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Acquiring PDLC Proficiency for Better Business Outcomes

Have you ever had a great product idea, but struggled to turn it into a successful outcome? Product development is a complex process that involves many stages, from ideation to launch and beyond. It’s not just about designing and building a product. It’s about creating something that meets the needs of your target audience, is delivered on time and within budget, and generates results for your company. That’s where the Product Development Life Cycle (PDLC) comes in. In this blog post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about PDLC and how it can help you turn your product ideas into successful outcomes.

Whether you call it out or not, your product teams are following a PDLC – a structured approach to bringing new products to market. From ideation and prioritization to design, development, testing, release, A/B testing, support, and measurement, each team member follows a defined workflow and collaboration pattern. By recognizing and optimizing this process, you can help ensure a more efficient and effective product development process.

What is the Product Development Life Cycle (PDLC) and what is oPDLC?

The Product Development Life Cycle (PDLC) is a process of how your company builds products and brings them to life to achieve customer and business outcomes. For most companies, it is structured around the product and development part of a “real” lifecycle. Whereas an oPDLC is a complete outcome-focused product development life cycle product development process from ideation to design, build, release, go to market, drive adoption, measure outcome, and iterate and improve. Like iPhone to a phone – oPDLC is a new generation, much more powerful PDLC to help outcome-focused organizations ensure that it meets customer needs and is successful in the market.

Why is implementing the right Product Development Cycle essential?

An effective organization runs on effective processes. An outcome-focused product organization needs to run an outcome-focused PDLC. 

Implementing the right product development life cycle is crucial for effective team collaboration, ensuring that critical elements and deliverables are not missing, and reducing confusion between handoffs from one team to another, e.g. from research to design to product to engineering – there are many cross-functional collaborations. 

Additionally, following the PDLC provides consistency for the executive team. It ensures that everyone is aligned and on the same page, from product managers to the chief product officer, including the development team, product marketers, and other relevant partners. Finally, it creates a positive team dynamic by focusing on solving problems rather than blaming individuals or teams. 

Overall, implementing the product development life cycle results in a streamlined and outcome-focused product development process, reducing the risk of costly mistakes, improving product quality, and increasing customer satisfaction.

The 7 Cycles of oPDLC (outcome-focused Product Development Life Cycle)

The traditional product development life cycle (PDLC) is a linear process of creating a new product from concept to market. It consists of different stages of the product with its own set of tasks and deliverables, and the PDLC framework helps teams stay organized and focused throughout the process. We have taken a step forward to also capture the pre-development process (goals setting, research, data analysis) and post-release (documentation, user education, product launch marketing initiatives) in what we call the Outcome Focused Product Development Life Cycle (oPDLC):

Diagram of oPDLC
  1. Goals/outcomes 

The first phase is setting the goals and outcomes for the project, where the team outlines the objectives they want to achieve with the new product.

  1. Allocation

The second phase is allocation, where the team assigns roles and responsibilities to each member involved in the project. This phase helps to ensure that everyone is clear on what is expected of them and helps to optimize resources. 

  1. Ideas

The third phase is generating ideas, where the team comes up with a pool of potential concepts for the new product. This can be done through brainstorming, market research, or user feedback.

  1. Prioritization

Once the team has generated a list of ideas, the next phase is prioritization. Here, the team evaluates each idea based on various criteria, such as market demand, feasibility, and profitability. They then select the ideas with the highest potential and prioritize them for further development.

  1. Planning

The planning phase comes next, where the team develops a detailed project plan outlining timelines, resources, and tasks required to execute the project successfully.

  1. Execution

The execution phase is where the actual development of the product takes place, and the team builds and tests the product. This phase requires close monitoring of progress to ensure that the project stays on track.

  1. Reporting

Finally, the reporting phase involves evaluating the project’s performance and documenting lessons learned to improve future projects. This phase also involves sharing project results and feedback with stakeholders to help inform future decisions.

Now that we’ve looked at the “why,” let’s take a look at the ‘how.” 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to ditching the feature factory and adopting Dragonboat’s outcome-driven approach.

How can Dragonboat help you run an effective PDLC?

As companies and teams evolve, they adjust their PDLC. But these process changes are hard to communicate and even harder to ensure adoption. Process change needs a system to support it, and Dragonboat is the perfect platform for product teams to design, roll out, adopt, and adjust oPDLC 

Every product team strives to follow a PDLC practice, but it’s hard to standardize it across the organization and different tools used for software development lifecycle vs. ideation and go-to-market readiness, which translates into inconsistent practices that require a lot of time, resources, spreadsheets, emails, team slacks, meetings.  

Dragonboat serves as a centralized hub for all product-related information, establishing a consistent practice across the organization and eliminating the need for scattered documents and spreadsheets. This streamlined approach enables the outcome-focused practice and provides transparency, and collaboration across teams, ultimately contributing to the organization’s success.

Hear what Dragonboat customers have to say about the importance of PDLC: 

“There’s many different phases you can use and flavors you can have with PDLC, but it’s always important to have only one understanding and single thread definition of what your product lifecycle is across the organization- and people can attach to that and create their own processes within those buckets”

Mark Kawczenski, Director of Product Operations, Procore.
Learn more from Talogy’s VP of Product Management, John Field

“Every organization produces something for their customers, and there must be a machine working to produce that product. From the initial idea, to the business requirements, QA’ing, to final product going Live to Site (LTS)- the development of product is a delicately choreographed dance with the product organization and the Engineering / Development organization. This process is called the Product Development Lifecycle (PDLC). AND there needs to be a picture so that the entire organization has a picture of the machine that produces the product and the rhythm of the organization.”

Avin Arumugam, Chief Product officer, One inc

If you want to learn more about how Dragonboat can help you implement an outcome-focused practice, set up some time, and we’ll be happy to show you our solutions and ask any questions that you may have.

Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) Using Outcome-Focused Portfolio Roadmapping

Executive Summary

A BHAG (pronounced “bee hag”) stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It’s a simple yet powerful phrase that teams immediately connect with. Consider the following examples:

  • Starbucks: Become the most recognized & respected consumer brand in the world
  • NASA: Land humans on the moon
  • Amazon: Every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds (Amazon)
  • Microsoft: A computer on every desk in every home (Microsoft)
  • Stanford University: Become the Harvard of the west (Stanford University)

Despite the above examples having unique long-term visions, one aspect is consistent: the journey to success was not a straight line. 

So, what does this mean for today’s modern product teams?

If a strategy reflects the hypothesis on the best way to achieve a BHAG based on the current state of your product, team, available resources, and market conditions, how do you lead your team to achieve something grand? 

In this post, I explain why product leaders must evaluate, align, and adjust their strategies along the journey to achieve their BHAG. I also recommend ways to navigate the constant changes, uncertainty, and constraints you likely face. Let’s get started!

The Need for Portfolio Roadmaps

The former head of product at Asana, Jackie Bavaro, posed a great question on Twitter: How do I create a Product Strategy when all the CEO gives me is a revenue target? You can read the entire thread here, but here’s my favorite part:

A good product strategy has 3 parts: Vision (inspiring picture of the future), Framework (target market and what it takes to win, including pillars, principals, etc.), Roadmap (not a commitment, a wake-up call to see what it takes to achieve the vision in N years)

I’ll summarize the rest, but Jackie explains how a product leader needs to drive the conversations to connect the dots between the business goals and the product work while considering the top customer problems to solve. For each issue, brainstorm ways that solving the problem might achieve the business goal. Which one gets you closer to your BHAG?

Identifying the problem to solve is only the first step. Next, you have to decide how to implement it. How do you have a feature-based roadmap where everyone knows what’s coming and an outcome-based roadmap to illustrate the framework and outcomes? 

Feature Roadmap vs. Outcome Roadmaps

Here are a few great examples of hypothetical roadmaps by Gibson Biddle, former head of product at Netflix/Chegg.

Feature Roadmap

Outcome Roadmap

Hopefully, these example roadmaps give you a sense of the critical differences between a feature roadmap and an outcome roadmap. But keep in mind that these are only two examples. A roadmap has even more flavors based on the lens you look through and who your audience is.

Because of the need for multiple roadmaps, companies created multiple slide decks to represent vision, strategy, and BHAG in various ways to illustrate and communicate their plans. 

With Dragonboat, you can create and communicate real-time portfolio roadmaps and switch your lens with a few clicks to get a different new perspective—all using the same data. It’s one integrated platform that helps build product roadmaps that accelerate portfolio outcomes. 

Our customers call this unique ability “slice and dice” portfolio roadmapping. 

Building Outcome-Focused Roadmaps in Dragonboat

If you want to try this framework with your own data, start a free trial and play around! Here is what to do first:

  • Consider how your executives talk about strategies, goals, and BHAGs.
  • What terms do you use? (swimlanes, value stream, horizon, goals, themes, OKRs)

These are the anchors you will use to organize your portfolio in Dragonboat. They are open-ended by design. Often you may have company or portfolio-wide goals with team-level goals nested underneath. You can use this hierarchy to set up your product portfolio—giving you a dynamic ability to switch “lenses” and quickly view your plans from different perspectives.

Note: If you have multiple independent products with individual goals or themes, send a message to your Dragonboat CSM and ask them to turn on the “portfolio marker” feature, where you may mark whether a goal or theme applies to the entire portfolio or one product area. 

Next, let’s talk about the timeframes.

  • Do you use a quarterly horizon for the next 4 quarters? 
  • Or do you take a “lean roadmap” approach with Now/Next/ Later? 

Having both is also okay!

Here is a template of Rolling Quarterly Roadmap based on the Netflix example above.

Here is a template for fuzzy timeframes like Now Next or Later based on the Outcome Roadmap Template of the Netflix example.

With timeframes established, you’ll want to focus on your next level of leaders: Directors and Managers.

How can they translate the goals, strategies, or outcomes to their day-to-day work? The work is often referred to as features, initiatives, or bets, and they:

  • Map to specific goals and strategies
  • Defined with a high-level scope and duration
  • Contain an owner who is responsible for driving the work forward

A feature represents an Epic that’s typically done by a team in a few sprints. And an initiative typically represents a basket of features that have a tangible impact on specific outcomes. Initiatives involve multiple teams and last for a quarter or more.

In larger organizations, you may have strategic bets that last half a year or longer with significant resources devoted across many teams. 

Another element for consideration is how your product team is structured. Some teams call these different lenses Roadmap and Sub-Roadmap. Others call it Product Group and Product. At the same time, others may have Pods and Squads. 

No matter what you call it, you can define your portfolio through the lens that makes the most sense to your product team while giving everyone a space to focus and coordinate their plans. 


As no product is built by a single team, having a source of truth with a consistent and holistic view enables effective communication, planning, executing, and ultimately, achieving your BHAG! 

Dragonboat supports high-level strategic planning but gives you the flexibility in timeframe and team-specific planning to make things work for all teams. And it does it all in one product roadmapping and portfolio management platform. 

Why Dragonboat CTA

What is Outcome-Driven Product Management, Exactly?

If you are reading this, congratulations! You are already way ahead of “customer-focused” product teams that are operating from a giant catalog consisting of product >> component >> master feature >> feature. So – what is outcome-driven product management? How do you “escape the build trap”?

In this post, we explain outcome-driven product management, highlight four elements of being outcome-focused, review some of the benefits, and explain how individual roles in the product org can become more outcome-focused. 

What’s the Definition of Outcome-Driven Product Management?

Outcome-driven product management is an approach for product-centric companies to bring to market and manage a product or portfolio of products that emphasize outcomes instead of outputs while facilitating top-down alignment, bottom-up innovation, and cross-team collaboration.  

The baseline for outcome-driven organizations begins with setting clear goals. With established goals, you can then evaluate how to create the best solutions. Next, you can tie this strategy together and measure progress towards the desired outcomes. 

Outputs vs. Outcomes

One of the common misconceptions about outcome-driven product management is that you either produce outcomes or outputs. However, it can’t be either or. Outputs are still a necessary means to an end for achieving outcomes. 

This tweet by Jabe Bloom explains the relationship of outcomes vs. outputs perfectly: without successfully laying 10,000 bricks (output), you won’t end up with a house that becomes a home (outcome).

When it comes to outputs, outcome-driven teams distinguish between good and great ideas, delivering the right outputs or features that will create the most significant impact and ultimately lead to the greatest outcomes. They scrupulously prioritize and re-prioritize to prevent scope creep and stay focused. 

Because outcome-driven teams focus on delivering the right thing, they measure success differently. As a result, celebrating outputs for their own sake becomes a thing of the past.  

“Good teams celebrate when they achieve a significant impact to the business KPIs. Bad teams celebrate when they finally release something.”

Marty Cagan

What Sets Outcome-Driven Product Teams Apart?

Many teams strive to be outcome-focused, but how do you know if they are? 

Here are 3 key elements that outcome-driven teams have in common:

1. Work to Achieve Three Types of Outcomes

Both feature-focused and outcome-focused teams work toward the desired customer and business outcome, but the latter works toward a third, the product portfolio outcome. This outcome is the holistic view for the entire product organization, between the near-term focus and long-term vision. 

Outcome-driven product organizations take a portfolio approach even with a single product because it may serve multiple user groups, contribute to numerous goals, and require various teams to build it. Product teams must allocate resources responsively across multiple dimensions to drive the best portfolio outcomes. (More on that below!)

2. Tie Product Strategies to Company Goals

Alignment must occur vertically and horizontally across teams and functions in an outcome-driven organization. The executive team should set the company vision and goals due to its strategic planning. Outcome-driven product leaders then assess and define product strategies that achieve these goals. These strategies become their product goals and initiatives

3. Allocate Resources to Goals

If you set a personal goal to run a marathon but don’t prioritize it by allocating time in your week to train, it becomes more like wishful thinking than a realistic objective. The same is true for organizational goals. Outcome-driven organizations understand the importance of allocating resources to goals to ensure progress will be made toward them. 

Industry-leading companies that endure for decades make sure to balance their resource allocation between multiple dimensions, outcomes and timeframes. They apply the rock, pebble, and sand prioritization technique to best manage their product portfolio. In doing so, they can also move forward with their big, strategic bets that will allow them to continue to innovate and transform.

4. Continuously Evaluate Progress Towards Goals and Adjust Product Focus and Priority

Are you tracking “roadmap progress” and thinking it’s outcome progress? 

If you are over-achieving in one goal and underperforming in another, shouldn’t your product priority adjust? Yes, indeed this is what outcome-driven product teams do!

Benefits of Outcome-Driven Product Management

Here are just 5 benefits of having a culture of outcome-driven thinking:

  1. Rally teams behind a company goal and shared vision instead of features that don’t explain “why.”
  2. Create clarity and incentivize effective cross-team collaboration.
  3. Escape the build trap/feature factory.
  4. Empower data-driven decision-making and iteration.
  5. Stay competitive and avoid being blindsided by new entrants who are disrupting the market. 

How Can Each Role in the Product Org Be Outcome-Focused?

Chief Product Officer (CPO)

Outcome-driven Chief Product Officers take a responsive product portfolio management (Responsive PPM) approach to connect strategy and execution to define goals, align strategies, evaluate allocation based on what’s working, what’s not, and what needs to be adjusted. Using a responsive PPM platform like Dragonboat, they can easily guide teams and have visibility into what multiple product teams are working on, how everything ties back to the company goals, and see all the progress in real-time. 

To truly empower teams, an outcome-driven CPO should set the strategic direction and product vision, orchestrate collaboration and goal sharing amongst teams and allow teams to contribute to their goals. 

Dragonboat snapshot view for outcome-driven product management
Dragonboat’s snapshot view allows you to easily see both outcome and roadmap progress.

Product Operations

An outcome-driven product ops manager makes sure to play a highly strategic role for the benefit of the entire company. Product operations’ areas of responsibility enable a successful, outcome-focused product organization. 

Since product ops aim to accelerate portfolio outcomes, this role should naturally help lead the transition from feature-focused to outcome-focused where needed. Product ops should gain the support of a change agent, such as the CPO, plan an agile rollout, and configure the right tool to create visibility and enable the cross-functional team.

Product Managers

Product managers looking to become more outcome-focused should focus on the “why” instead of the “what.” 

Instead of finding solutions that solely meet the customer’s needs, outcome-driven product managers make sure what they build will also contribute to the business and portfolio outcomes. Fortunately, by doing so, they will be more likely to get the resources they need to deliver their roadmap. 

To communicate how their roadmap will contribute to the company goals, product managers should switch from feature-based roadmaps to OKR roadmaps and then adopt an outcome-driven product workflow

What does being outcome-focused mean to you? What are some other ways that product organizations could become more outcome-focused? Let us know on Twitter or follow us on LinkedIn for a steady stream of product-centric goodness.

How to Follow an Outcome-Driven Product Management Workflow?

A product management workflow is how a product idea is pushed through its process and often refers to a number of things such as creating a product, updating a product, adding a new product feature, and even removing a product. Though the process for each of these things will always look different, the steps you need to maximize your time and effort should always be the same. 

A product team can only be as effective as its workflow. A great product management workflow will push your organization towards its goals, streamline the product development process, and enable effective cross-team collaboration. But what defines a winning product management workflow? This article will take you through the steps of an outcome-driven product management workflow.

Why Focus on Outcomes?

We’re all familiar with a product management workflow, but what are the advantages of an outcome-driven product management workflow?

Many teams without a well-defined product management workflow experience the following:

  1. Wasted time and energy just getting up to date
  2. Reacting to roadblocks after they occur rather than adjusting to avoid roadblocks before
  3. Getting lost/overwhelmed when things go wrong
  4. Easily getting disconnected from the big picture

All of these pain points add unnecessary steps to the product management workflow. An outcome-driven product management workflow will avoid all of the above by allowing you to do 3 main things:

  1. Align every step of your product development to your overall objectives
  2. Empower data-driven decision making and iteration
  3. Create clarity and enable effective cross-team collaboration

By adding an outcome-driven mindset to your product management workflow, teams can push their organization forward with every step. The power is in the fact that the process emphasizes organizational visibility and clearly defined objectives. That way even when things veer off-plan (and they always seem to) your team can feel secure knowing that product leaders can easily adapt and adjust.

Now let’s jump into what you should keep in mind for an outcome-driven product management workflow. 

Steps to Follow an Outcome-Driven Product Management Workflow

This guide covers how to use Dragonboat for the best practice outcome-focused product management workflow.

The best practice product management workflow can be represented in 3 timeframes. 

  1. Before Product 
    1. Collect and evaluate feedback / requests
    2. Define and prioritize objectives / focuses
    3. Evaluate and prioritize initiatives best to achieve these objectives
  2. Before Scrum
    1. Organize and prioritize product ideas by objectives, themes, or other dimensions
    2. Estimate to understand / adjust resources required for each Idea
    3. Push to engineering tool for execution
  3. During Scrum
    1. See progress automatically rolled up
    2. Keep stakeholders and teams up to date  
  4. After Scrum
    1. Evaluate product outcomes continuously to help evaluate and prioritize future roadmaps

Now let’s take a look at how to execute each of these outcome-driven product management workflow steps. 

Before Product

Think of the timeframe before you push your product through as your opportunity to strategize and align. This will set your product up for success in the long run by giving you a reference point to return to, allowing you to adjust for the inevitable changes along the way. 

1. Collect and Evaluate Feedback and Requests

You can’t build everything at once and even if you could, doing so would stick you in a build trap. That being said, you want a place to put all the ideas, requests, and feedback so you can centrally manage and prioritize as you go.

Dragonboat’s request module allows you to collect, organize, and prioritize feedback before linking any of them to new or existing product features or initiatives (which you can do at any time).

Dragonboat Request Portal
Pictured: Dragonboat’s Request Portal to collect, organize, and prioritize feedback.

2. Define and Prioritize Objectives / Focuses

Ask yourself 3 main questions:

  1. “What are we building?”
  2. “How will this help us achieve our outcomes”
  3. “What are the metrics we can use to measure success?” 

Answering these questions before starting any process will allow you to be mindful of the objective in every task you do. Keep in mind that these goals only need to be specific in scope and direction but can remain general in objective. Also be cognizant of your resources, because resources will determine whether your objective is actionable or a wishlist.

You should seek to answer these questions with your team and although you do not need to agree on every answer, you do need to be aligned on the conclusion.

Once you’ve tackled these first, you can begin to narrow your scope as you get deeper into your workflow with the comfort of knowing that everything connects to a broader objective.

In Dragonboat, create your objectives using Settings > Objectives
Pictured: In Dragonboat, create your objectives using Settings > Objectives

3. Evaluate and Prioritize Initiatives Best to Achieve these Objectives

An Initiative represents a big undertaking that may have multiple Ideas. In a Responsive PPM framework, Initiative may be at the top or middle level of an organization’s strategy and execution horizon. An initiative, also sometimes called a program, spans a few months or quarters (whereas an idea would span a few weeks), could involve multiple teams, have multiple releases and could have its own estimates, timeframe, roadmap and/ or objective.

Once your initiatives are added, you can begin easily dragging and dropping Ideas into the related Initiatives. Now for the fun part – prioritization!

Before Scrum

Now that you’ve squared away the important basics of what your product will look like, you can begin to flesh out the aspects of your plan. Create a clear, visible, and actionable roadmap with the following steps:

1. Organize and Prioritize Ideas 

The first step before scrum is organization and prioritization. To best prioritize your backlog, you need to have all your ideas clearly laid out. We recommend organizing your ideas by their objective, themes, and product as seen in the example below.

Dragonboat Board View to organize and prioritize backlog
Pictured: Ideas organized and prioritized by Goals in Dragonboat.

When deciding how to prioritize, there are many scoring models you can use like RICE to determine what idea will have the most impact towards your goal. Ideally, the model you choose will also allow you to remain responsive and iterative to changes in product development.

Dragonboat Portfolio List to sort and group ideas and score them to match your prioritization method
Pictured: Sort and group ideas and score them to match your prioritization method in Dragonboat. The scoring methods used here are RICE and MoAR for a quantitative prioritization approach.

2. Estimate Resources

This next step serves as a vital indicator of your product investments. Create high-level estimates or T-shirt sizing to get an idea of where you need to allocate more resources and identify any bottlenecks.

Lastly, adjust the resources required to balance allocation across your portfolio.

Dragonboat Forecast module to check current allocation against the target
Pictured: Dragonboat’s Forecast module to check current allocation against the target.

3. Team Execution

Now that your planning is done, it’s time to get the work done. Share your plan with your team for visibility and context. Then push your data set to Jira, Github issues, Shortcut or whatever DevOps tool you use so your team can begin carrying out your product plan.

During Scrum

From the start of ideation, your product management workflow has considered the big picture. Now to complete your outcome-driven process start to finish, you will need real-time visibility during and after scrum.

1. Check Progress from Engineering Tools like Jira, Github, or Shortcut

Stay ahead of potential roadblocks with progress roll up and visibility. Tools like Dragonboat can do this automatically so teams can easily do check-ins and focus on the areas that need attention. 

Dragonboat’s two-way integration with Jira for automated roll-up progress tracking, allowing quick adjustments to the plan.
Pictured: Dragonboat’s two-way integration with Jira for automated roll-up progress tracking, allowing quick adjustments to the plan.

2. Keep Stakeholders and Teams Up to Date

Embed in wiki/ Confluence and create customized reports for various stakeholders to create clarity and visibility around the roadmap plan and progress.  

Create customized reports in Dragonboat for various stakeholders and teams in a variety of formats so they can get the relevant information that they need.
Pictured: Create customized reports in Dragonboat for various stakeholders and teams in a variety of formats so they can get the relevant information that they need.

After Scrum

Outcome-driven product teams evaluate product outcomes continuously to help evaluate and prioritize future roadmaps. Creating a snapshot view for your execs to easily see both outcome and roadmap progress is a great way to connect the strategy and execution to understand what’s working, what’s not and what needs to be adjusted.

Dragonboat Outcome Focused Summary

Outcome-driven product management is all about sticking to the big picture while remaining iterative to change. Having an effective outcome-driven product management workflow empowers you to manage setbacks because you can confidently return to your plan knowing that you can adapt.

3 Reports Every Product Manager Needs to Share

As a product manager, you’ve incorporated stakeholder requests, prioritized your roadmap, and created a perfect product plan. The hard stuff is done and now it’s time for tracking and sharing. Whether you’re still building reports in spreadsheets or using a tool like Dragonboat to automate the process, providing visibility and real-time progress updates is an important part of every product manager’s job. 

Across the thousands of teams using the Dragonboat platform, we’ve seen three reports that high-growth, outcome-focused senior product managers consistently save and share as evergreen slide decks


Share with Customer-Facing Teams: Features Requested by Customer Report

Keep your customer-facing teams up-to-date with features that specific customers have requested, their progress, and expected delivery. This report should show customer feature requests in the rows and the expected release dates in the column. 

product manager reports requests by customer

Some benefits of this report include:

  • Keep track of customer needs while providing an overview for clarity and alignment. 
  • Inform the marketing team so they can create the collateral needed for new product and feature launches. 
  • Inform the sales team so they can accelerate existing deals and generate new pipeline. 
  • Keep customer success in the loop to build support materials and process documentation.   

Providing insights and updates in real-time keeps customer-facing teams on the same page to create the biggest impact.


Share with Engineering Teams: Features Aligned with OKRs Report

Keep your engineering team motivated by showing how the work they’re doing contributes to the greater company goals and objectives. This report should show product teams in the rows and company objectives in the columns.

product manager reports 2 features by okr example

Why is this report useful?

Showing how the work being done across teams ties to the company-level objectives helps create a portfolio-level view of how the product organization as a whole is moving the company forward. 

This is a great report that product managers can use to show for company-wide alignment to keep everyone up-to-date on the status of products. 


Share with Executives: Product Team Focus by Quarter Report

Create a high-level view of what each product team is delivering by quarter. This report should show product teams in the rows and timeframe in the columns. 

team focus by quarter product manager reports example

Why should product managers create this report?

Executives need high-level visibility across the portfolio. This report provides the necessary information for executives to understand what’s being built, by which team, and when product launches may occur.

In Dragonboat, any product manager can create various evergreen “slide decks,” updates, presentations, or reports (however you might call them) so they are always available automatically in real-time. Now, engaging and collaborating with stakeholders becomes a strategic conversation focused on outcomes and results.

The Role of Product Operations – Enabling an Outcome Focused Product Organization

As product-centric companies scale, misalignment, lack of visibility, dependency management, and communication overhead challenges rise exponentially. 

This is precisely why in 2011, PayPal onboarded someone in the role of product operations for its Global Product and Experience organization. This newly invented role aimed to enable an effective product organization as it scaled. It has since invigorated and transformed the 400+ member product organization. 

“(The role of product operations) drove cultural transformation for the ~400 person global Product organization to become a more disciplined, data driven team.”

Angela Song, VP Product Operations, PayPal

What’s the Mission of Product Operations? 

The role of product operations (or product ops) or its mission is to enable an effective, outcome focused product organization, and broadly speaking, a product led company, to achieve the best portfolio outcomes.

What Does an Effective Product Organization Look Like? 

  1. Clarity on strategy across all levels 
  2. Responsive execution that delivers commitments 
  3. Ability to scale without the business-damaging chaos
  4. Adoption of data informed decision making
  5. Balance of long term vision and short term outcomes to win in the current and future market

Why Should Product Ops Not Only Care About Product Outcomes, But Portfolio Outcomes?

As a company scales, there will be more product teams whose product managers will focus primarily on the goals and outcomes of their own areas. However, they often have to juggle between several goals, some from other teams. Product ops is the one who will shepherd team collaboration and planning so that these multiple product teams can work together effectively for the overall success of the company. 

The best portfolio outcome is larger than the sum of individual team outcomes. 

What Does Product Operations Do? 

Product ops runs the strategic operations of a product organization and its responsibilities all tie directly to enabling an effective, outcome-focused product organization. You may think of Product Operations as the COO of a product org.

The responsibilities can be categorized in the following eight areas:

1. Evolve Product and Portfolio Processes and Tooling

The entire product organization runs on a product portfolio process, both for the product teams and for all stakeholders interacting with them. Setting the right foundation and adapting it responsively to changes is one of the most impactful areas of product operations. 

This includes portfolio level planning and tracking, as well as product management and agile development process and tooling optimization, integration and best practices. 

Therefore part of the role of product operations is to evaluate, own, and manage portfolio tooling to enable a single source of truth which can then be accessible to the entire company as appropriate. They’re the guardian of product portfolio management best practices for the entire product organization. 

2. Lead Strategic and Portfolio Planning

Strategic Planning 

Strategic operations start with aligning strategies at the executive level, along with relevant headcount, budget and allocation. This often is carried out as strategic planning. To facilitate this, product ops lead strategic offsites, quarterly planning, and OKR alignment with both product executives and product teams.

Portfolio Planning

In addition, product ops is proficient at applying product portfolio management best practices so that product leaders and teams can navigate and balance:

  1. Multiple goals
  2. Competing stakeholder and customer requests
  3. Prioritization best practices 
  4. Short term OKRs and the long term product vision

One of the most important keys to product ops’ success in portfolio planning is managing dependencies since they stall 90% of product teams at some point. Product ops plays a key role in portfolio planning and collaboration to help identify, plan and track cross-team prioritization and dependencies. This often takes place during quarterly planning and sets up the portfolio for success.  

90% of product teams have been stalled by dependencies.

3. Portfolio Visibility and Stakeholder Engagement

One of the most common challenges that product leaders face is effective stakeholder engagement. The role of product operations is pivotal in defining effective interaction and communication cadences through all levels of the organization, including with executive leadership, within product organizations, and with cross-functional teams e.g. sales, marketing, etc. 

Product ops can strengthen visibility by implementing a PPM solution that serves as the single source of truth (for both planning and tracking), resulting in greater trust and transparency across the organization. 

Read more about how to choose between a roadmap and PPM tool.

4. Customer and User Engagement

For individual product managers, it is often time consuming to collect user insights, correlate different data points, or try to recruit various customers/ target users for interviews and feedback sessions. Product operations helps to form processes around users and customer engagement, allowing product teams to be customer centric.

Product ops also helps define and evolve the engagement model and communication cadences between product and other teams that are customer facing such as support, sales, marketing, etc. 

If a product org doesn’t have a user research team, product ops often takes on the task of helping product teams to recruit, manage user interviews or manage vendors for user research. 

5. Product Analytics, Experimentation and Launch Planning


In organizations where data may be scattered across various platforms or there is a need to work with dedicated data teams for reporting, product operations may help to standardize data definition. This way, they help ensure apple-to-apple consistency for values across systems. Product operations may aid in building and improving the data, access and definition processes for product teams. 


Product ops may own the experimentation calendar to coordinate various product experiments and A/B tests. They can manage the planning holistically to ensure the quality of data and prevent conflicts. 

Launch Planning

Product operations often acts as product’s liaison with the go-to-market team to define the timing and scope of various GTM plans and activities reflecting product delivery scope and schedule. 

6. Financial / Headcount Planning and Tracking

In partnership with product leaders, finance teams, and vendors, many product ops teams are tasked with owning the product org’s budget, headcount, and financial planning and tracking. 

Not only that but product ops executives often play a key role in advising product leaders on organizational design, career roadmapping, mentorship, training and other “people related” topics.  

7. Product Tools and Vendor Management

As product-led companies grow and new product teams are added into the mix, it’s important that they build with the same toolset. When different teams all have their own tools for various tasks, it becomes increasingly complex to manage dependencies across the product portfolio. By standardizing the use of and processes related to tools team-wide, product teams can align easily. This, in turn, enables the successful execution of larger, cross-team initiatives that drastically move the needle. 

Product operations coordinates tool evaluation for the product organization, collaborating with different users in the product teams, from understanding their needs to rolling out the solution. Common team tools include product portfolio management, design, user research, survey, analytics, collaboration tools, etc. Product operations reduces the burden of vendor evaluation, management, and pricing across the organization. 

8. Operational Excellence

People Management

Product operations partners with product leadership and HR to create and maintain the product organization’s interview process, onboarding process, and product management training and coaching. 


To increase consistency and efficiency, product operations partners with product leadership and product managers to create templates for product requirements, training, feedback collection, etc. 

Where Does Product Operations Sit in a Product Organization? 

Depending on the size of a product org, this role may be carried out as a shared responsibility by a product leader, a dedicated person or even a dedicated team. 

Most often, the product ops team reports to the head of product. If there are several product operations team members, each might report to a different VP of Product who oversees a number of product managers. 

In some larger organizations with hundreds of product managers, a VP of Product Ops may report to the CPO and own more comprehensive responsibilities such as: 

  • Strategic and portfolio planning
  • Product analytics
  • Experimentation
  • Product GTM enablement

And in other cases, product operations reports to the CPTO (Chief Product and Technology Officer). In this reporting structure, they may also be more involved in the SDLC process and the respective tooling, including agile practices. 

What Are the Top Wins of a Newly Created Product Operations Team?

Having read this far, you’ve seen by now just how broad the scope of product operations can be. With so much to do, it’s natural to wonder what a newly formed product ops team should focus on. The role is not yet mature and may look different from company to company, according to each one’s unique context. 

However, for any growing, outcome focused product organization, product operations’ early efforts and quick wins should always correspond to its most pressing product challenges first:  

Ensure Alignment on Goals (OKRs), Strategies, and Prioritization 

  1. Implement a quarterly planning and portfolio roadmapping process 
  2. Connect OKRs with product initiatives
  3. Facilitate healthy discussions about cross team allocation and tradeoffs 
  4. Create and manage ongoing bi/weekly rhythm to review OKR and roadmap progress across product teams

Ensure Product Delivery to Commitment 

  1. Create a source of truth planning and tracking system that introduces trust and transparency across the organization
  2. Establish a quarterly planning/ bi-weekly check in rhythm 

Ensure Effective Stakeholder Engagement  

  1. Incorporate feedback and requests in the product planning and communication process
  2. Build a scalable stakeholder engagement process with both meetings (real time) and tooling (async) interaction

Process is a product. Product Ops is the chief enabler of product teams where she leads and evolves the best practices of a product organization with her product management skills and operational chops

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The Roadmap to Success for Product Ops

As you continue the journey of building product ops, here is a roadmap to success which is centered around the three core pillars of the function: enabling teams, vertical alignment, and cross-functional collaboration.  

Product Ops Roadmap to Success

Are you a product operations professional or thinking about becoming one? Share your tips and join the conversation in our product ops community.

Takeaways from “Escaping the Build Trap” by Melissa Perri

If you’re serious about building an outcome-focused organization, Escaping the Build Trap by Melissa Perri is a great read. In this post, we share a few key takeaways from the book. We’ll share common product management practices and deliverables we’ve observed as examples of the “build trap”. And we’ll show how a great portfolio tool like Dragonboat enables product leaders, from Chief Product Officers (CPOs) to their teams, effectively run an outcome-focused product organization.

“A product led organization is characterized by a culture that organizes outcomes over outputs, including a company cadence that revolves around evaluating strategies in accordance with meeting outcomes.”

The Strategic Framework

The context of a strategic framework is more functional than theoretical.

The terminology of the strategic framework Melissa uses is “Vision, Strategic Intent, Product Initiatives, and Options.”

In some companies, terms like Vision/ Mission, Strategic Intent/ Bets/ Big Rocks, Product Initiatives/ Programs are interchangeable. Check out the “Rock, Pebble, Sand product management” piece covering a similar concept.

An outcome-focused product leader does not mandate initiatives but instead provides strategic intents. The strategic intent points to the outcome the business wants the team to achieve.

One example of output-based product management is the product roadmap. A product roadmap is not the best way to describe the strategy and direction of the product team, as it is often output-based with a list of features and associated dates. On the other hand, you can construct a multidimensional board based on the outcome.

Brainstorm, align, and prioritize product features by Goals

The 3 Horizon Strategic Deployment

Similar to what we observed in high-performing product organizations, leaders at the right level make the right sized decision, which provides the guidepost for the subsequent level.

  • “Different levels of strategies are stories at different time scales… Executives may be thinking of 5-year strategies, middle management is thinking of smaller strategies like yearly or quarterly strategies, bounding their teams to make decisions on a monthly or weekly basis.”
  • “When teams are not sufficiently constrained, they feel stuck because there are too many options.”

The interconnection between the 3 levels of an organization is critical to the success of a product-led organization. Here, the middle management could be product managers or directors. They play a critical role in connecting strategies and execution.

The Dragonboat product module supports Bets, Initiatives, and Features, each representing the long-term, mid-term, and near-term focus at the 3 levels of the organization, connecting the context throughout the levels of the organization.

3 horizon strategy and execution

The Communication Strategy

Having a strategic framework and carrying it through all levels of an organization is an important foundation of a product-led organization. To keep it alive, the organization also needs to ensure consistent communication of the progress in the format of outcomes, across various cadences. Here are the 3 review cadences, according to Melissa.

  • Quarterly business reviews “progress towards strategic intents and outcomes in financial nature. CPOs and product VPs will explain how product initiatives have furthered the strategic intent.. and new strategic intents may be introduced in this format.”
  • Product initiative reviews – also quarterly – ‘staggered from the quarterly business review… focus on the product development part of the house with CTO, VP engineering, design, and product managers to discuss how options towards product initiatives have progressed and adjusted strategies accordingly. New product initiatives may be introduced during this cadence with buy-ins from the development lead.”
  • Release reviews – “often monthly, for teams to show off the hard work they’ve done and to talk about success metrics. Also, a forum to share the product with marketing, sales teams on what’s about to be released.”

In our observation, both Chief Product Officers and their teams need to communicate up and down and across the organization. Most CPOs and their team rely on meetings, spreadsheets, decks, and emails to connect the long-term strategy with team actions. However, the context will often end up lost and along the way, a list of deliverables takes place. Furthermore, an organization can easily slip back from outcome-focused to output-focused during the shuffle between different cadences and meetings.

Dragonboat is a perfect platform both for quarterly product reviews and release reviews, taking into account inputs (strategic intents, goals) from business reviews and passing them down to the team for execution.

Stakeholder updates Exec Summary

Budgeting and Portfolio Allocation

Budgeting and allocation are a key part of product operations. Here Melissa shared a few best practices

  • “Product-led organizations budget for and allocate to work based on their distribution and the stage of their work.”
  • “Invest in known knowns, and also set aside money for discovering new opportunities to propel the business model forward. And add more and more funds to grow the opportunities as they become validated.”

Traditional product organizations allocate budgets and headcounts on an annual basis with lists of predetermined initiatives. This does not allow responsiveness to the changing business environment. Outcome-based organizations continuously assess outcomes against goals and adjust where allocation to product should be applied. This is the genesis of Responsive PPM.

Dragonboat enables multi-dimensional, multi-level product allocation in real-time during planning.

Responsive Portfolio Allocation

Key Learnings as a PM – from Escaping the Build Trap

PM – PMs are not idea generators, but bad idea terminators
Senior PM – the strategic framework makes or breaks a company
Consultant – the understanding of getting buy-in and what motivates people

Are You in a Product-Led Organization?

Here are the 6 questions Melissa leaves to you in Escaping the Build Trap:

  1. Who came up with the last feature you built?
  2. What was the last product you decided to kill?
  3. When was the last time you talked to your customers?
  4. What is your goal?
  5. What are you currently working on? (hint: the problem first, before solutions)
  6. What are your project managers like? (hint: are product managers treated as project managers with a delivery/ output focus?)

Product managers are the most collaborative role in an organization. They need to focus on both solving customer problems and achieving business outcomes. The success of product management is largely dependent on the process and culture of the company. But don’t be discouraged – every company wants to be product-led and outcome-focused. Visibility and context help to build trust in product management.

A source of truth system connecting the moving pieces from the executive level to the feature level, tying work with goals and outcomes, may help with this.

Buy Escaping the Build Trap.

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Why Agile Organizations Need Responsive Portfolio Management

An agile coach asked me recently – I’ve been hearing this Responsive Portfolio Management a lot lately. What is it? Why should agile organizations adopt responsive portfolio management?

Let’s take a step back to see how your organization adopted Agile in the first place? For most, it was about enabling rapid, iterative change in a world that was itself rapidly changing. Better productivity, faster delivery, and increased profitability for the benefit of employees and customers.

So why are we hearing stories of internal failures or subpar products? Of misaligned teams that, months earlier, had all agreed on a common set of goals. Why are Agile companies losing their agility?

agile madness
from Henrik Kniberg/ Crisp

The problem doesn’t lie in methodology but in what we call “Agile madness”. Siloed teams with competing priorities or circular dependencies cannot practice scrum effectively. Strategic and tactical leaders cannot make informed decisions without clarity and alignment. And when these companies scale, these problems scale too.

The traditional solution was to integrate project portfolio management to bridge strategy and execution. However, it’s a linear top down command and control type of framework that often risk stymying team innovation that the Agile methodology brings.

So, we updated it.

After managing more than 10 million hours of portfolio roadmaps from PayPal, Shutterfly, Bigcommerce and other fast-growing startups, and interviewing product and technology executives from leading innovative companies such as Netflix, Amazon and Shopify, we designed “Responsive PPM” to help companies of any size to achieve holistic responsiveness.

What is Responsive PPM?

Responsive PPM (Responsive Product Portfolio Management) replaces fixed-scope projects with a portfolio containing outcome-focused initiatives that connect with objectives and are iteratively built, tested, and learned from/ validated before the next iteration.

Additionally, responsive PPM for agile adds a bottom-up workflow that empowers teams and their leaders to make iterative and holistic decisions towards achieving their OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) — ones that align with long-term strategy and quarterly milestones.

3 Horizon strategy and execution in responsive PPM

In turn, executives can better adjust and reprioritize in response to the changes in execution, available resources, and external factors. Part of this lies in adopting MoAR (Metrics on Available Resources) over ROI as a more holistic evaluation tool. In most instances, looking beyond dollar-based costs and benefits can provide intuitive and immediately measurable values to plan with.

Importantly, this entire process is continuous regardless of organizational level. Executives, leaders, and teams must all assess and adjust for the next year, quarter, or week.

By tying the strategic and execution cycles to this rhythm of Align, Allocate, and Adjust, everyone moves in the right direction at the right speed. Rather than planning only once a year and blindly hoping everything works out in the end, Responsive PPM is the rallying drumbeat for an entire organization to move quickly and efficiently.

In other words, Responsive PPM lets Agile organizations regain their agility regardless of its size and scale.

Responsive PPM

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