What is a Product Operating Model?

How to Operationalize Your Product Operating Model: Part 1

In this first installment of the multi-part “How to Operationalize Your Product Operating Model” blog series, we’ll unpack the concept of a product operating model, detail the key elements in a typical operating model, and provide a brief overview of the steps you should take to overcome the challenges you face in running your operating model the way you intended.

What is a Product Operating Model?

A product operating model is the underlying infrastructure for how a Chief Product Officer drives the success of a product organization and, in turn, their company. 

To help bring further clarity to the topic, let’s hear from these industry voices and how they describe it:

“How we codify the way we translate the business and product strategies into the work getting done.”

Melissa Perri and Denise Tilles, “Product Operations: How successful companies build better products at scale.”

“3 dimensions… product strategy, product discovery, product delivery.”

– Marty Cagan, “Transformed: Moving to the Product Operating Model (Silicon Valley Product Group)”

”Empowers cross-functional teams from the business or product, engineering, operations, and other functions to work autonomously to create and deliver solutions.”

– Eric Lamarre, “Rewired: The Mckinsey Guide to Outcompeting in the Age of Digital and AI”

As you can see, there are many ways to unpack this concept. Adding to its mystique is the fact that just as dynamic as a business itself or the market it plays in, a company’s product operating model is in a constant state of evolution. 

So, let’s pull back the layers on this topic further to understand the key elements of a typical operating model in hopes that you can start taking the appropriate steps to operationalize it effectively.

Key Elements in a Typical Product Operating Model

Regardless of how it manifests in your mind, every model encompasses how the product organization plans, executes, adapts, and contributes to business outcomes, as measured by various goals and metrics. In other words, how an organization aligns its strategy to its product execution to drive business outcomes. 

Take this diagram detailing the key elements of a typical model for example.

Typical Product Operating Model

No matter how your operating model manifests today, it’s what underpins it that is of critical importance: people, interactions, and data. 

  1. People: The human element within an operating model. This includes roles spanning from the CPO to Product Managers, Executive Stakeholders and your Board, the Go-to-Market Team, and other individuals that have inputs or influences on your product strategy e.g. Legal, Compliance, Security, Operations, etc. 
  2. Interactions: The rhythms of business that exist at different operating planes. This involves the methods by which an organization establishes goals, sets strategy, allocates resources, measures performance, and continually inspects and adapts to optimize outcomes. 
  3. Data: The foundation of every operating model. By integrating data from strategies, investment options, business goals, roadmaps, requests, delivery, and product performance, a business can inform decision-making, measure impact, and continuously improve. Most importantly, it can keep all stakeholders on the same page at every step of a product’s journey from idea to impact.

When disconnects emerge between these components of your operating model it can hamper your company’s ability to achieve its desired outcomes. What’s more, it threatens your very livelihood as a product leader. The only way to solve these challenges is to operationalize your operating model.

Run Things the Way You Intended

To effectively operationalize your product operating model is to ensure it enables frictionless collaboration amongst all participants (people), supports the ways they work at different operating planes (interactions), and places data at the foundation of everything.

In order to accomplish this we recommend you ditch the spreadsheets and point solutions and centralize your operating model on a single platform. Doing so will help you operate more effectively, measure performance, and improve over time. 

Not sure where to start? Look no further than Dragonboat.

How Dragonboat Can Help

Dragonboat is the only product operations platform purpose-built to help you operationalize your product operating model. With a flexible solution and hands-on help provided by our in-house product operations experts, we can meet you where you are today and help you evolve your approach over time. 

Ready to get started? Book a demo today!

If you enjoyed this blog, stay tuned for the next installment in the series where we’ll expand on the challenges that are driving companies to change their ways and adopt a product operations platform. You won’t want to miss it!

Ready to accelerate product outcomes?

Josh Berman

With over a decade of experience working alongside product leaders in the IT, strategic portfolio management, and collaboration space, Josh serves as Head of Product Marketing for Dragonboat.
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