Product management, which deals with the planning, forecasting, production, and marketing of products, has always been an important function within an organization. This is especially true in the case of software product based companies, big or small, who continuously face challenges to produce new features first and be the top player in the market. In such a scenario, it becomes a big challenge for a product manager, often known called the CEO of a product, to manage everything with traditional tools like a pencil and paper. Therefore, in this blog post, I am going to discuss some of the best product management tools that a product manager should have.
Product managers provide the deep product expertise needed to lead the organization and make strategic product decisions. They often analyze the market and competitive conditions, laying out a product vision that is differentiated and delivers unique value based on customer demands. Their role spans many activities from strategic to tactical and provides important cross-functional leadership usually between engineering, marketing, sales, and support teams.
The toolkit below includes everything a product manager would need, starting from outlining your product roadmap to the tactical side of making your wireframes/prototypes, to successfully delivering a product to the customers. The tools are divided into the following five areas:
Planning & Roadmap Planning and Roadmapping help PMs in deciding what they would be doing with the product over the course of months or even years. It’s important to keep an organized roadmap so you can get a high-level view of what features need to be implementing and when they would be implemented.
Communication and Presentation Product managers spend the majority of their time communicating ideas, plans, designs, and tasks to their teams and stakeholders. This includes everything from emails communicating decisions, to presentations communicating product roadmaps, to specs communicating product designs, to bug tickets communicating errors in the product.
Project and Task Management A product manager needs a platform to monitor project progress and to manage the list of tasks and issues that the team is working on throughout the sprint. Task management tools can save quite some time providing up-to-date information on product development.
Prototyping and Wireframing Prototyping and wireframing are essential to validate the product or its features before they go into production. Moreover, it is much easier to communicate the product requirements to the development team by providing a sketch or prototype which look and behave like the real product.
Customer feedback One of the important responsibilities of a product manager is to effectively manage feedback. Feedback can provide you with critical data that will ultimately drive your product strategy. It’s also essential for measuring customer satisfaction among your current customers.
Data & Analytics As a product manager, it is always important to know your customers and how they are using your product so that you can make it better. This information can easily be obtained by using analytics tools in your web or mobile application.
Planning & Roadmap
Aha! With more than 250,000 users worldwide, Aha! is a popular tool to set brilliant strategy, create visual roadmaps, and manage breakthrough marketing programs. It helps PMs to build projects with goals and objectives to keep the team focused on the most important features. It allows PMs to collect crowd-source ideas from employees and customers, and it also easily integrates with development tools like JIRA, Azure DevOps, Rally etc. so engineers can build what matters most for the team.
Communication and Presentation
Slack Slack is definitely one of the best communications tools for PMs especially when your team is spread out all over the country or some members are traveling or working from home. In Alpha’s 2018 Product Management Insights Report, Slack was voted as the 2nd most used communication tool only behind email. Apart from the ability to quickly create public and private channels and direct individual messages, Slack also offers voice and video call for easy project collaboration.
Zoom Zoom is a scalable, cloud-based video conferencing and web conferencing platform enabling online meetings, webinars, file sharing, instant messaging, group messaging and more. It is capable of running conferences with up to 500 people, which is not only great for bigger teams but also helpful in conducting webinars to demonstrate your product to your clients or end users. This tool has everything you’d expect from a conferencing tool with screen sharing, chat, integrated scheduling and ability to record the meetings for later use.
Project and Task Management
Trello Trello is one of the leading project management tools available in the market. Its visual interface makes it super intuitive to use and provides a quick way to get an up-to-date overview of the various operations. Their format of using boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a very flexible manner. You can add comments, attachments, and links directly to cards in Trello, which makes it easy to follow one card (or product feature) from start to finish.
JIRA Jira is a flexible and scalable agile project management tool from Atlassian that lets you easily plan, track, and manage all of your software development projects. It also provides bug and issue tracking functionality, and allows product managers to get a complete overview of project activity. Another advantage in Jira is that the project members can easily log their hours for each task. This can later be used to manage time and budget for the projects.
Prototyping and Wireframing
Balsamiq Balsamiq is one of the most popular wireframing tools for small to medium-sized businesses. Before you begin with development, it is important to validate the design idea with stakeholders. Balsamiq helps product managers to quickly create mockups and easily produce multiple versions of it for testing and user feedback.
Invision Invision is a great prototyping tool that enables product managers to quickly turn ideas into powerful screen designs, animated transitions and add micro-interactions that turn static screens into working prototypes. It also has features that make it easy to collaborate with teammates and gather feedback. Invision also has a cool iPhone app that lets you capture recordings and interactions with your prototypes while seeing users’ faces and hearing their voice which is pretty cool.
SurveyMonkey SurveyMonkey is one of the best survey services out there on the market. It helps you to create and send sophisticated surveys to your target audience. You can choose from nearly 200 free templates to build cloud-based surveys on any topic. You can also use SurveyMonkey’s enterprise services for brand management, data analysis, and consumer marketing. Their main advantages are a neat analysis system and the friendly backend for survey design.
Data & Analytics
Google Analytics Google Analytics is one of the most popular and highly recommended tools that provide insight and analytics across your web or mobile based application. It provides you with data that helps you make informed decisions about what users are looking for, popular pages, conversions, and many more. Recently they have added a feature which allows you to see the analytics in real-time.
Mixpanel Mixpanel is a user behavior analytics tool for product, marketing, and data teams. It takes all the difficult tasks such as building custom database engines and gives you simple drag and drop tools to create performance measuring tools. It enables you to understand your user’s journey, learn which features increase KPIs, and test ways to improve them.
Do you use any other product management tools that you consider essential or exceptionally helpful? If you need any help in deciding what tools are best for your team or organization, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org