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Product Ops: A Missed Opportunity?

What is Product Ops and Product Ops Management? 

You’ve probably heard of DevOps, and Product Operations is built upon the same principles. It is an operational function that facilitates effective communication and resource and data sharing between different departments, enabling cross-functional product teams to work effectively and efficiently. It optimizes the intersection of product, engineering, and customer success supports the R&D team improves the alignment, communications, and processes around the product. 

Depending on the size of the team, a Product Operations Manager, or a Product Operations Team in a larger company, will be utilised in different ways. They tend to have great critical thinking skills and are effective at problem-solving to create a smooth delivery process for products. Typical jobs owned by Product Operations Managers can include:  

  • Deciding on, and managing tools (communication, road mapping, prototyping, user-onboarding, etc) 
  • Developing and refining business processes 
  • Facilitating market research 
  • Setting goals for teams and individual contributors 
  • Owning and developing strategies for the teams’ priorities 
  • Analysing data, feedback and NPS scores 
  • Social media sentiment mining 

Product Managers and Product Operations Managers will work very closely together but on different tasks with slightly different focuses. A Product Manager owns the development of the product whilst a Product Operations Manager handles the day to day tasks involved with development.  

Do I need Product Ops and Why is it Beneficial? 

Product Operations teams are not required in every business. Smaller Product Teams with very few people, should be able to multitask and communicate with each other well, but larger teams tend to benefit from the additional support. To help decide whether you do need to invest in a Product Ops function, you can ask yourself the following questions: 

  1. Are your product managers spending more time with administrative tasks than they are with their core responsibilities? 
  2. Does your product experimentation culture feel out of control? 
  3. Are we a large company with many different product teams operating at the same time? 
  4. Is scale one of our priorities as a business, and is it something we are struggling with? 
  5. Do you not trust the data that your team is making decisions with, and do you not see a clear path to fixings that problem? 

If you are experiencing issues like these, it’s perhaps time to consider recruiting a Product Operations Manager or building your Product Ops team. 

Having a product ops function takes operational (and time-consuming) tasks off of product managers’ plates, so they can focus on building exceptional products and keeping customers happy. You will also have improved cross-department communication and resource sharing, creating a more collaborative, harmonised product process and function. Product Ops professionals will also help the Product Manager make more informed and reliable decisions, by providing them with the correct data. A summary of the three top benefits include: 

  • Gathering, analysing, and sharing accurate data for more informed, accurate and reliable decision making across the business 
  • Choosing and using the right tools within the Product teams to ensure smooth, consistent, and effective product delivery with fewer delays, issues, and errors 
  • Supporting the Project Manager, by primarily giving PMs their time back, by taking ownership of micro-level tasks, so that PMs are free to work on a macro-level. 

The Desirable Skill-Set 

If you are considering taking the step into Product Operations, or if you are looking to recruit for a Product Operations role or team, below you will find the most desirable skill-sets for Product Ops employees so you either know what to look for, or know which of your own skills to focus on and refine. 

  1. Exceptional problem-solving, critical thinking, and analytical abilities 
  2. Experience in direct people management within a product environment 
  3. Track record of making and enabling accurate data-driven decisions 
  4. Experience of delivering complex, cross-functional projects, involving multiple stakeholders 
  5. Exceptional organisation and multi-tasking skills in a product/project environment 
  6. Ability to create and refine processes, including the ability to enable quick course correction 

Conclusion 

At its core, a Product Ops team is about supporting the product team and making it easier to develop and deliver great products through great communication and resource sharing, and effective and efficient workload distribution. It seems like a great way to improve the speed, quality, and effectiveness of the product delivery cycle, yet few people seem to know about it! 

To find out more about Product Operations, or job/ hiring opportunities in the sector, please get in touch today to learn how I can help out. 

Sources: 

https://www.productplan.com/the-rise-of-product-ops/ 

https://productschool.com/blog/product-management-2/product-ops-operations-manager/ 

https://www.pendo.io/glossary/product-operations/