In recent as product management has emerged as an essential discipline in the enterprise, the need for product management software has grown accordingly.
Today, every company is a “tech” company. In the spirit of being a technology-driven enterprise, companies of all sizes are establishing product management discipline to drive the conception to launch and, after that, manage the lifecycle of products.
In an enterprise context, product management includes products and solutions that are customer-facing and internal tools and enablers. Most enterprises are transitioning from a project management culture to a product-centric culture, particularly in the digital and cognitive era.
Product Management Definition:
Product Management involves the comprehensive lifecycle management of products encompassing:
- Ideation and conceptualization
- Market Research
- Product Definition
- Developing a business case
- Product Market Fit
- Product design
- Building iterations of product from MVP (Minimum Viable Product), Alpha, Beta, and General Availability
- Release Management
- Product Marketing
- Product Roadmap
- Team Management
- Crowdsourcing of ideas
- Product Portfolio Management
As one can see, product management is the art, craft, and science of looking after products from the cradle to the grave.
Product Management Software:
Considering the expansive scope of product management and the mission-critical nature of the discipline, there is a compelling need for product management software and tools.
Product Management Software is a set of tools that enables product lifecycle management from product ideation, documentation of features and functions, design of modules and functional specifications, creation of product roadmaps, managing various releases, and enables team collaboration, dashboards, and analytics and reporting.
Frequently, product management tools integrate with other software for creating design/UX, project management, engineering and development, bug fixing, and release management. The product management software ecosystem is a foundation for enterprise transformation and success. Hence the product management tech stack must be planned and implemented methodically.
Product Management Software – Features and Functionality:
Product management software includes numerous features, functions, and capabilities. An enterprise may implement an end-to-end product management platform or assemble and integrate a set of best-of-breed product management tools and solutions in a cohesive offering.
A best-in-class product management software tool must include the following features and capabilities:
- Creation of a portfolio of products
- Capturing of business requirements
- Categorization of requirements into ideas, themes, modules, features, requirements, and user stories
- Product and feature definition at various levels of granularity
- Development (or uploading) of wireframes
- Functional specifications
- Decomposition of features into lower-level building blocks such as user stories
- Flexible product release management structure and schedule
- Product Roadmap development at various levels of granularity and grouping
- A/B Testing
- Backlog management
- Crowdsourcing of ideas
- Internal idea generation
- Incorporation of the voice of the customer
- Polling and surveys for ranking ideas, features, and functionality
- Team structure planning
- Resource loading and allocation
- Test cases management
- Multi-factor feature prioritization
- Product workflow management
- Milestone tracking
- Approvals Management and Tracking
- Feedback management (customers, UAT, testers, other stakeholders)
- Product management team collaboration
- Discussions and comments at various levels of granularity (features, themes, modules, ideas, requirements)
- Versioning and audit trail
- Collaborative editing
- Integration with other systems in the product life cycle management
- Analytics and Reporting
Product Management Software Vendor Evaluation Criteria:
The maturity of product management discipline, the type of products and services your company develops, and the footprint of the product ecosystem should drive the tool selection decision. Here are a few pointers for selecting a product management software platform.
- Product management Use Cases the tool will be supporting
- Skill level of product management teams in the company
- The maturity of the product management discipline
- Product management software features and functions
- User onboarding
- Partnering and support models
- Deployment models – cloud, on-premises, hybrid
- Integrations and APIs with other systems in the product life cycle management ecosystem
- Performance, extensibility, scalability, reliability, and availability
- Application security and information security
- Cost – particularly total cost of ownership
- Vendor viability
Here is a definitive listing of popular product management software tools for product managers.