Product managers lead a product from conception to completion and this is no easy task. If you’re a product manager or are aspiring to become one, you would bear the responsibility of ensuring that the company’s products are functional, well-designed, and utilitarian.
As a product manager, you have a lot of activities on your plate. You need to devise the strategy, roadmap, and features along with all the information that will be shared in product releases. You need to gather product insight, track backlog, and review the product roadmap. You need to find opportunities for new products, create and launch them, supervise existing products, and eliminate any features that aren’t clicking on the market.
No product manager would want to miss out on a key component of their role because of a lack of technology and tools. In the past, PMs did not have access to several resources that helped them with their work. They used spreadsheets, presentation decks, paper, pens, and basic project management software to perform their responsibilities. However, in recent times, product apps have been developed keeping the product managers and their requirements in mind. This makes product management easier and more efficient.
The following list contains product management applications that will help you excel in your role. These applications have been categorized as per product manager related tasks and responsibilities:
Preparing a roadmap is one of the key responsibilities for any product manager. This makes a road mapping software a must-have. If you’ve used presentation decks or spreadsheets in the past, you would be aware of the drawbacks they bring. They are non-native roadmap applications and are less flexible. They create more work, are easy to share, and generally cause version-control issues hampering your progress.
Aha! is a popular product strategy and road mapping software. It allows you to create a visual product roadmap with your ideas, features, and strategies. ProductPlan is another tool enabling you to draft and share beautiful product roadmaps.
Design and wireframing
Product managers need to prepare wireframes and mockups to further define what customers need. While they can represent their requirements in long-form descriptions, it is always beneficial to supplement with prototypes, wireframes, annotated images, flowcharts, idea boards, and more. Several apps can help product managers do the same.
The wireframing apps allow you to easily create mockups and then share the same with your stakeholders. You can use design and wireframing software like Axure, Balsamiq, InVision, Moqups, Mockingbird, Sketch, UXPin to create prototypes of your website or app.
Project Management applications help you manage all your development, design and QA related work for your product releases and sprints.
Jira is an issue tracking software and offers deep integrations throughout the development and release workflow. With a tool like Jira, for instance, you can create and track feature items, improvements, bugs, and any other development-related tasks for your engineering, content and design teams. Some other project management apps that help you to track and record all activities in one place are Asana, CA Agile Central, PivotalTracker, Microsoft Project, etc.
Customer or Partner surveying
A few decades ago, companies had to hire executives who physically went around getting survey forms filled. This consumed a lot of time, energy, and financial resources. Web-based survey apps have made the task a lot easier. These apps have various kinds of pre-formatted questions allowing you to prepare the survey in just a few minutes. You can choose from comment-based questions, multiple-choice questions to drop-down lists or whatever you like.
This survey can be shared with customers via email or social media and the results can be tracked easily. These apps are very helpful when you need to gather data for market research. But, the important thing to keep in mind is that their ease of use, convenience, and cost-effectiveness can make you overuse them. You must use these survey apps carefully so that you don’t end up bothering or spamming your customers.
Some software that you can try to put together your next survey is Formstack, SurveyMonkey, Typeform, Google Forms, Spigit, Qualtrics, SurveyGizmo, Wootric, etc.
User tracking and analysis
A product manager needs to have data for how well their audience is engaging with the content on their software and website. User tracking and analysis tools are invaluable sources of insight and intelligence. Surveys and interviews were used earlier to understand customer response. However, these only recorded what customers shared. The advantage of product analytics tools is that they capture and help analyze customer behavior as well.
Any company can use tools like Amplitude, Geckoboard, Pendo, Domo, Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Segment, or HeapAnalytics to understand what resonates with the users and what doesn’t. These tools can be deployed on your software or website.
Collaboration and productivity
A product manager needs to work with several teams. For any cross-functional initiative, you need to assign the roles and responsibilities for a given set of tasks to required stakeholders. But how do you track the same? And how do you maintain a record of all your engagements?
Fortunately, you have cloud-based collaboration and productivity apps such as Trello which is just like a virtual whiteboard. It lets you share various items with relevant team members in a highly visual format using boards, cards, and lists. There are other such applications such as Confluence, G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, and Slack. These apps allow for easy and centralized team collaboration and tasks management.
Online Meeting & Voice Recording
When you get in touch with customers, even if it is just to answer one of their questions, it is a good idea to record the conversation. You don’t know when the customer can give you an incredible piece of insight or share something brilliant about your product that you haven’t been focusing on.
Similarly, when you have meetings with various departments like marketing, advertising, sales, research, designing, development, etc. you want everything to be recorded for future reference. Using apps like Skype, Zoom or GoToMeeting let you record all the important conversations and use them at a later date.
A product manager must have an ideal toolkit in place if he/she wants to perform his/her responsibilities effectively and efficiently. If you haven’t been using some of these applications already, it is time for you to try your hands on each of these. You will see a difference!