If product management is the cake, then product ops is the sauce on it.
This is one analogy to describe how important product ops is.
Product ops is that one friend who has everything you need. They help product management in various ways, such as reaching to necessary data and bridging other teams like customer success, engineering, and product.
In this article, you will learn about the great, mystique, and thrilling world of product operations. What do they do? What are their responsibilities? All these questions will be answered here, so let’s start.
What is Product Operations?
Product Operations, also known as Product Ops, refers to the goal of supporting the product team and making their process more efficient with the help of data and the technology available. This assistance may include enhancing communication within the team and with the other parts of the company, standardizing planning, and enhancing the practices and the knowledge of the team by scheduling training programs and finding resources.
Who is a Product Operations Manager?
A product operations manager is, obviously, a person who undertakes the responsibilities of product operations. However, their characteristics make them stand out. They have to be a person who uses data extensively, cares about efficiency, and is customer-centric.
They can also be required to do extensive analysis on the product and the impact of the product on the industry. This way, they help other departments understand the product better, resulting in better marketing strategies and more personalized campaigns.
Product Operations vs Product Management
The first difference is which problems they try to come up with solutions to. Typically, product management elaborates on the problems that the users of the product might face – this encapsulates new features or functionalities that might help their users.
On the other hand, product operations’ job is to solve problems within the production process – that means they have to deal with stakeholders. They prepare documents about the versions and the shortcomings of the product. They also train people who are in marketing, sales, and customer success teams in order to show the functionality of the product.
The second difference concerns which people they work with. The product management process highly involves partnering with engineers and customers to bring out new ideas to life and experiment on them.
However, the product ops process involves partnering with stakeholders and teams to connect based on trust and providing them with up-to-date information to strengthen them.
The final difference is based on how they both see value as a term. For product management, value is centered around the features and the functionality of the product, whereas, product ops build value on what product management has provided. In other words, the term value refers to training resources, communication, etc., to reach what product management has put forward effectively.
Why is Product Ops so important?
You might start to wonder why product ops are so important. Then, it is only logical to list the reasons why product ops are beneficial for your company.
1- Onboarding Support
If new people are joining your teams, you should not desire a loss of pace due to the training of the newcomers. Product ops help you here with an onboarding plan that is defined and outlined beforehand. This plan encapsulates every stage of being a productive team member and what you have to do to get there.
2- Catching up with the Practices
Competition has always been here, and industry practices are changing more rapidly than ever. So, you would want your product team to have the most current knowledge in an environment like this. That’s where product ops become handy. A product ops manager will heavily invest their time in following these changes.
In other words, their duty will be getting information from inside and outside of the team, searching for the best practices, methodologies, and tools. Then, they will convert the things they learn into knowledge points for the team.
3- Effective Management of the Tools
Nowadays, companies use more technology and tools than ever before, and the need for more tools is increasing rapidly. Almost every team uses at least 1 or 2 tools to get their job done in a company. That’s why people can see a mess while using the tools. It is somewhat unavoidable.
However, a good product operator can administer these tools and maximize the efficiency of these tools by creating guides for best practices. This way, there will be harmony across your organization – not a cacophony.
4- Handling Data
In the age of information, data is everything. To understand your customers, the industry, and the market, you will need data. Even if you don’t analyze it, you are still being bombarded by it. So, what can you do to handle this data effectively and have the best results for your company?
The answer is product ops. With the help of product ops, you will have good management of the data at your hand. This will result in better product decisions for your products, and you will thrive in the industry.
5- Training and Educational Materials
No company wants to be out-of-date. You may wish to be born in the 60s, but your company has no choice but to adapt to the new technologies and circumstances of the business. Otherwise, you will just lose the competition, and other companies will excel while you make no progress.
A product operations expert comes to your aid with training and education. The materials or necessary points they make will be one of the most crucial factors of your company’s adjustment to the new technologies, business standards, etc.
Also, it is among the duties of a product ops expert to create an education program that has compelling materials for your employees to have a better learning experience and is convenient to schedule and access to the training.
In almost every business, there are some tasks that are procedural – meaning that these tasks have to be done quite often. Although they seem not of high importance, they might take lots of time for your team. A product ops expert will identify these tasks and try to find opportunities to make them more “automatized” and less time taking. This way, you will save time and energy for your company.
7- Manage the Customer Feedbacks
More and more companies switch to a tone that is centered around their customers. If you are one such company, you know how important your customers are. They pay for your product, refer your product to their coworkers, friends, etc., and obviously use it. So, in your case, user experience becomes highly important.
A product ops expert can enhance the user experience with the help of analysis, testing, and experimentation. Plus, they have to ensure that user feedbacks are managed in an effective way.
As your company, product, and teams grow, the experimentation process keeps getting more and more complex. Different people might have different experiment designs, and their designs might not be the best when trying to see the real results. Moreover, some people can exaggerate the effects of one factor or underrate their effects.
In this regard, product ops come up with a methodology that shows the real reasons why people act in a certain way. The methodologies and experimental designs they create can be used by all product managers across your company.
9- Being a Support to Product Management
Above, you have read some of the differences between product operations and product management, and there it is pointed out that they are actually the different sides of the same coin.
Product ops, generally, are hired when there is a demand regarding problems of product management.
Since product ops solve problems regarding the issues of teams and make them more efficient, they can save valuable time for product management. Moreover, the analysis and the research they do on the market and the product result in product management understanding the product at hand better. So, they can run their customer relations better.
After this quite explanatory blog post, you should know almost everything about the product operations. They are some of the most underrated people in the industry, and most of the time, you will need them to be on your side. When production ops are paired with production management, your company will be on the next level you aim to be at.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is a product operations specialist?
Although requirements and job descriptions change from company to company, in general, a production operations specialist is a person who mainly enhances communication, data sharing, and production processes within the production team. This role sometimes can extend to be in communication with other departments, as well.
Who is a product operations analyst?
Similar to product operations specialists, a product operations analyst deals with the product. The product operations analyst refers to a person within the company that analyzes products, solutions, and features of the product. Their responsibilities may include an impact analysis regarding the industry and client.