Product Success | 8 MIN READ

The Beginner’s Guide to Product Operations

Product operation is a key aspect of product management. Learn what is product operations, the need for Prod Ops, and more. The beginner’s guide.

Anshi Bhadoria
Aug 5, 2021

The-Beginners-Guide-to-Product-Operations

Product Operations

Needless to say, in a market filled with cloud-based SaaS solutions, the demand for product operation becomes apparent. Product operation is a key aspect of product management. It is a specialized discipline that combines technical expertise with business acumen. The Product Operations team takes responsibility for all aspects of product launch operations by combining their expertise in operations, communications, supply chain, and product management.

A recent study published by Pendo reveals 29.9% of product operations professionals belong to companies with more than 10,000 employees, such as Google and Apple. Clearly, this shows how large enterprises are placing a great deal of importance on product operations. In today’s market, having a competitive product is key to success. Organizations are realizing that operations are becoming an essential and foundational part of their business. It has become so important that businesses are willing to invest millions of dollars in developing one.

If you are curious about product operations but unsure where to begin, this guide can help.

What is Product Operations (Prod Ops)?

Product Operations is a strategic function that aims to streamline communication processes among product managers and engineers by integrating data and technology. In recent years, Product Operations roles have evolved to include: Operations, Technical Ownership, Product Strategy, Project Management, Customer Success, and Professional Services. Products can be software, hardware, or even services. Using product data and statistics, these professionals share best practices, tools, and tips in a collaborative environment, improving PMs’ daily responsibilities.

Product Managers and Product Marketers have traditionally been responsible for the overall success of a product, in terms of sales, revenue, and external market factors. Ops brings a more technical perspective to product delivery, focusing on Lean methodologies or Agile software development practices. Through its early involvement in the development process, Ops ensures high-quality products are delivered ahead of market demand.

Understanding the Need for Product Operations

Having a strong product operations team can help a company’s leadership and management teams make better-prioritized decisions. That too in a product-based firm where the customer experience has a direct impact on revenue, optimizing the customer journey becomes essential. It will also help identify wherein the software development lifecycle companies improve their products as well as where they can execute those improvements. Additionally, Product Operations assists business leaders with budgeting by providing information on how long an application will cost to build, where their most important features are and how extensive it needs to be, and when they need their applications.

Product Operations Roles and Responsibilities

In the software industry, product operation represents one of many cross-functional aspects of managing products. However, unlike other roles associated with product management, product marketing, customer support, or technology, it isn’t always obvious how product operations fit into an organization. It is the process of optimizing your process (the execution) in order to deliver a high-quality product consistently. It includes the tools, people, and information required to design, build, operate, support, and continuously improve a product, as well as the measurement of its performance. Let’s take a look at the common product operations roles and responsibilities. It is imperative that each on your product team knows what they are doing and also knows what their role is and how they contribute to the success of your product.

The responsibilities of product operations roles include,

  1. Collaborate with Design, Engineering, Sales, and Marketing teams
  2. Track and manage customer feedback lifecycle
  3. Data extraction and easy access to product information
  4. Implement and manage product management tool stack
  5. Create a backup of templates, reference guides, etc.
  6. Making routine operational tasks like sprint planning more efficient
  7. Make continuing education a priority
  8. Providing support for Onboarding processes
  9. Establishing best practices for product operations and management
  10. Support business leaders to make informed market-driven decisions

Benefits of Product operations

With the above-mentioned roles and responsibilities, Product operations are used in a number of ways. Two of which include protecting the customer’s identities of those who are listed in call and data logs, as well as preventing future third-party damages against a business. It is imperative that businesses take advantage of these aspects for overall security and prosperity.

Product operations isn’t a new idea, but in the digital age – it can be applied in a myriad of ways. It’s all about how you think through your strategy and execute how you want product operations to positively affect your company while remaining focused on the customer experience. Product operations is a process that allows you to see the big picture while still being flexible enough to adapt to changes in the marketplace.

The reality is that Product Operations shouldn’t really be looked at as a single function or buzzword, but rather as a strategy within your business model to help you build strong customer relationships and build the best possible solution for your customers.

Product Management Vs Product Operations Vs Product Marketing

Product manager (Product Owner), product ops, and product marketer are often used interchangeably. Particularly in small and medium businesses, the functions overlap quite a bit. Nevertheless, each of these roles plays a fundamentally different role in the product development process, each touching on different aspects of it. At first, the differences between these roles may seem confusing, but understanding how each influences a product can make it much easier for product managers to develop successful products.

As the name implies, product management is about making your product a reality. But what does that mean? In some companies, this person will actually manage the team that works on the product. Other times, they’re part of a team (designers, coders, marketers) that is building a product. Product Management is mainly responsible for developing a comprehensive vision for the product. It forms a communication channel between customers, executives, engineers, and team members. The key objective of product management is to create value for customers by understanding their needs, market position, and suggesting solutions to meet those demands.

Product Operations, on the other end of the spectrum, involve bringing together multiple products and processes to create revenue-generating products. In addition to that, it develops new products that grow a business’s revenue and clientele. It focuses on reducing costs and achieving company goals on time by improving operational efficiency. An organization’s success depends on its product operations. Evidently, it’s the process of taking raw materials and turning them into a finished product. This is where we take concepts and make them a reality by creating production lines. ProductOps teams are now a staple within every modern enterprise. Product operations also refer to the operational changes and service enhancements that are necessary for companies to stay competitive. As business models change, so does the need to improve production management.

A product marketing strategy bridges the gap between online marketing and offline marketing. The objective is to gain insight into consumers’ behavior and demands through every channel of communication.

Implementing Product Strategy with Product Operations

Product Strategy is a critical part of any company, especially startups. To succeed in any market, a successful product requires effective management. It’s not just about conceiving the idea and designing products, but about actually building and shipping them.

However, there is often a disconnect between the way strategy is planned and executed. Product Strategy sets the road map and the vision, but it is Product Operations that take this vision and applies it to the daily work routine.

Product Operations is responsible for overseeing the tactical activities that’s necessary to make sure the product and service are meeting their intended objectives. Effective product strategy, combined with the right execution model can help your organization reach new levels of performance.

Product operations are not about building a business, it’s about scaling your business and company. It’s about taking you from 1 to 100.

The role of product operations within the product organization is to operate and maintain the product. It consists of gathering, analyzing, and communicating metrics related to a product business. As a result, product operations help teams focus on building great products by highlighting potential problems or risks before they become major issues.

The functions in a Product Operations organization are derived from the value chain, specifically the activities that bring a product to market and sustain its performance during its life cycle.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of what industry you’re in, creating a product is an exciting and challenging task. Having a documented strategy for your product’s lifecycle will help you get through the process with ease. Product operations management is a challenge for most software companies. With growth comes a burgeoning product backlog, which requires a different approach to making sure development is focused on high-value features. With more members on your team, you’ll need new tools and processes to ensure they’re on the same page.

In addition to Product Development and Production, Product Operations have their own dynamics. The development of new products depends heavily on collaboration and teamwork – communication is the key to effective feedback and progress – whether you restructure or revise your operations.

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Originally Published August 5th, 2021, Updated August 6th, 2021

Anshi Bhadoria

Anshi has over 12 years of experience in demand generation, digital marketing, and managing global teams. In her prior role as head of marketing operations for a high growth US healthcare tech organization she transformed marketing from cost to revenue center.

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