Product Operations

The general goal of any business is to make a product, sell it, and improve it over time to simplify the sales process. But exactly how this process happens is considerably more complicated.

You have to look at industry trends, gather feedback from customers, drive actionable insights from collected data, update business goals, and adjust the product accordingly. 

All these steps are a constant source of inefficiencies, especially as a company grows and continues to develop new products and features over time.

How can companies solve this challenge? The answer is product operations. In fact, 90% of organizations say they have already implemented product ops internally.

But what is it? And why does it matter so much for product-led companies?

What Is Product Operations?

Product operations, or product ops, is a business role that focuses on helping out product managers with “low-level” tasks, such as gathering and analyzing data, enabling collaboration across teams, building efficient workflows, and discovering best practices. By outsourcing these responsibilities, product managers can focus more on designing, launching, and improving the product itself.

“Low-level” tasks aren’t necessarily easy either. They can be time-consuming and multifaceted, requiring expertise in multiple fields. The product operations role is cross-functional, as it involves engineering, research and development, and customer success. It essentially acts as the glue holding everything together by facilitating communication and workflows revolving around the product.

Sales ops, marketing ops, RevOps, and DevOps take on essential functions for sales, marketing, revenue, and development teams, respectively. Product ops likewise contributes to a more potent product development lifecycle. The role doesn’t have a precise definition in every organization, and the exact responsibilities can differ from company to company. But it always involves improving the product, making customers happier, and increasing revenue.

Why Should Businesses Have Product Operations Teams?

Product operations management makes sense in any medium or large organization that focuses on products and the customer journey. Product ops optimizes everything in the product development lifecycle and customer relationship management, from onboarding new clients to encouraging referrals.

Gathering product usage data is one of the most impactful responsibilities of a product ops team. With the right information, product management can make more informed business decisions regarding product design.

For example, software developers can collect usage statistics to check which features customers are using the most. These embedded analytics will become more necessary in the future, with 75% of software companies relying on them.

Product ops is also invaluable to improving communication and operational efficiency among multiple teams. The data it collects becomes available to everybody across the company.

What Are Typical Responsibilities of Product Operations Teams?

Product ops involves a diverse set of skills and roles in an organization. Product operations responsibilities include:

  • Managing the technical stack: Product ops teams manage the tools companies use and develop internal best practices for using them. For example, software training helps employees get the most out of internal software suites.
  • Working with data: Product ops collects a variety of data and extracts insights that lead to more informed business decisions. Examples of data points include customer feedback, product usage analytics, and the Net Promoter Score; the latter of which determines the quality of the customer experience. Product data operations helps product managers determine what features are working best and which ones need tweaks. The data is also useful for creating more impactful customer training programs.
  • Aligning teams: A product operations group works closely with and provides data for various departments. For example, marketing and sales can increase conversions more effectively when they understand the product better. Customer service teams can resolve issues more quickly when they understand common pain points. And research and development teams can receive guidance on how the product should evolve with consumer demand.
  • Experimenting with the product: Experimentation is necessary for researching new product designs. By looking at customers’ most common pain points, product ops utilizes feedback and market research to improve the product experience. It helps product managers streamline the experimentation process.
  • Developing strategies: Product strategy and operations go hand-in-hand. Product ops teams are responsible for streamlining otherwise time-consuming workflows, such as product research and testing. They facilitate collaboration across departments by providing a centralized knowledge base of product data for the entire company to reference. Product ops even assists with change management, updating documentation whenever business goals or product technologies evolve.

A dedicated product operations team takes much of the hard work from product managers, who can then focus on customer satisfaction and product design. The role becomes exponentially more important as a business scales and grows its product lineup.

Product Ops vs. Product Management

While product operations and product managers work closely together, their responsibilities have subtle but important differences.

  • The technical stack: Product operations manages the technical stack a company uses internally, while product managers may provide feedback on how to improve the tools they use.
  • Data insights: Product operations handles data collection and organization. Product management extracts actionable insights from the data and guides product development.
  • Communicating with other teams: Product ops communicates any changes product management makes to the rest of the company.
  • Experimentation: Product ops facilitates most of the product experimentation, while product management analyzes the results and tailors new development initiatives accordingly.

Next Steps: Embracing Product-Led Marketing

You can generally think of product operations as a role for short-term tasks, while product managers look at long-term product development. 

While operations provides relevant data and tweaks internal processes, management guides the overall design initiative by looking at long-term business objectives.

You now understand the importance of product operations. What’s next? Read our blog post: Why Product-Led Growth is Here to Stay to learn actionable tips and strategies you can deploy right now to ensure you’re focused on building a winning product-led growth strategy. This blog will explore the differences between sales-led and marketing-led growth, top benefits of product-led strategies, key elements of an effective product-driven strategy, and more.

Ready to See the Power of CloudShare’s Cloud-Based Labs In Action?