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All About Product Operations

QUESTIONS

Questions from Alexis:

  • What is product operations?
  • What differentiates ‘Product Operations Role’ from more of a traditional ‘Operations Manager’ role?
  • What are the key day-to-day activities / responsibilities you would have as a Product Ops manager?
  • Do you need to have a background in Product to move into Product Ops?
  • What are the key skills / traits you need to have to be successful in Product Ops?
  • If your business has a Product Ops function, what are they responsible for?
  • If you work in Product Operations, what’s a challenge you might have faced and how have you overcome this?
  • Are there any specific softwares that are more tailored to Product Ops (e.g. familiarity with JIRA / roadmunk)

It would be great to hear practical examples from those who currently work in Product Ops. The kinds of projects / tasks they support and lessons learned etc.

NOTES

Product Operations will likely  be different company to company, just like any operations role is.

What is Product Operations? How does it differentiate from a standard Operations role?

  • Product Manager covers product operations at a startup stage, and a separate role comes up as the company and the product team grows.
  • Ensuring that all the ideas that come from product managers are sorted and reflect company’s priorities and help achieve company’s goals.
  • Backlog and roadmap prioritisation naturally falls under product managers...but where’s the line drawn? Is there conflict between product managers and product ops? Perhaps it’s when you have multiple product managers as the priorities start competing.
  • Roadmap is decided by a product manager, but the process around how it’s communicated sits with the equivalent to product operations (or project/programme management).
  • In the early stages of the company, a product manager would do everything. As you scale, product operations jump in to evaluate and decide what’s the biggest bang for the buck and help to prioritise and allocate resources.
  • Product operations is quite nebulous - can mean different things in different industries/companies.
  • Two core things / the essence for product operations: data analysis and process. The grease for getting stuff going. Lots of combining of the teams to get things done.
  • Giving context to product managers! “Only when we started product operations going we discovered that the product managers are doing nothing” :)
  • As with operations - it’s doing everything to keep the company/team running.
  • It could be presumed as a complete admin role. But it should be about looking at a bigger picture and improving things at scale.
  • Risk of the role: trying to make other people happy, but it’s super important to have clear goals and boundaries that are respected.

Background, skills and experience to go to product ops?

  • Understanding and awareness of product management is probably beneficial.
  • Technical product development process at a company.
  • Commercial outlook and awareness on commercial implications. Thinking about whether the things that we’re doing are having a positive commercial impact on the company.
  • If you’ve managed processes, created processes, or managed teams who’ve done those things, you’re on a good path.
  • Data analysis, metrics, insights. You don’t need to be a data scientist, enough to read dashboards and have an understanding :)
  • Have an example where you’ve analysed / assessed some data, took action, and had a positive outcome (e.g. automating something). Anything that it’s possible to put a number to and tell a story about it. We’re all tracking the progress of our processes and improving efficiencies so it shouldn’t be hard. Focus on what impact it had; what it drove.
  • From experience of interviewing in larger companies for Product Operations roles:
    • Prioritisation of products in terms of client requirements
    • Commercial mindset. Not salesy, but someone who can prioritise revenue streams and think strategically what certain products/features mean for the clients
    • In addition to data mining, ability to negotiate with external stakeholders (clients) and internal stakeholders (e.g. product teams)
  • Stakeholder management is extremely important so you can achieve alignment.
  • Two components to data analysis: analytical skills and communication. Equally as important, one is nothing without the other. Important to contextualise the data to surroundings and disseminate the information effectively, thinking about your audience and their background and requirements. “Facts don’t persuade people, feelings do. And stories are the best way to get those feelings across.”
  • Ability to pick out the most important, key metric to get the most positive outcomes, and not get lost in the sea of data and the never ending opportunities for data analytics. Don’t go the rabbit hole! If you know what you’re looking for from the data, that’s your biggest asset.
  • Product Operations are making the product work. It has to sit very much in the middle of the business.

What systems, tools, software do you use day to day?

  • Jira and Confluence
  • Salesforce
  • Spreadsheets
  • Asana for project management
  • Looker (BI tool)
  • Roadmunk
  • Miro
  • Wouldn’t worry about the tools; every company uses them in a different way.
  • Focus more on the concepts as opposed to all the tools and make sure you relate to a business impact
  • Tendency to overthink what tool we’re gonna use but it’s always means to an end.

RESOURCES

Please contribute and jot down any resources here :)