RSVP FOR FREE | How Carpe Data Supercharges Roadmap Planning to Deliver Outcomes | Oct 3 @ 9 AM PT


Unlocking Product’s Business Impact with Product Operations

This blog post was created in partnership with the Product Ops HQ community, the fastest-growing community where product operations professionals gather to connect, share knowledge, and learn.

Product Operations is gaining importance in businesses, and its benefits are being discovered. In this interview series, we dive into best practices from Product Operations Leaders and Responsive Product Portfolio (RPPM) advocates. RPPM is a framework that helps product-led organizations compete better, connecting goals, customer needs, products, and resources for faster value delivery and increased product returns. Join us to learn valuable insights and tips for success in Product Operations.

Interview with Ashley Fong

Welcome to our exclusive interview with Ashley Fong, the visionary Vice President of Product Operations at Carpe Data and a Dragonboat customer. Ashley is responsible for orchestrating engineering, data science, and project management to deliver maximum impact for Carpe Data’s carrier customers. Her unwavering dedication and fearless approach to challenges set her apart as an outstanding leader in Product Operations.

With a decade-long journey at her current company, Ashley’s versatility shines as she’s worn multiple hats in different roles – a testament to the dynamic nature of the startup environment. These experiences have been instrumental in shaping her growth, providing invaluable insights from multiple angles within the business.

Ashley’s insatiable curiosity and love for exploring the world’s diverse cultures have not only enriched her life but also molded her resilient attitude.

What was your role before you became a Product Operations professional? How long have you been in the Product Ops role?

I helped establish Product Operations at Carpe Data starting at the beginning of this year. Before I was in Product Operations, I held positions throughout our company: Analyst (both product and data), Finance, Quality Assurance, Project Management, Product Management, Sales/ Customer Success, and Technology.
Most recently, I was in Technical Operations, working alongside our CTO to create a roadmap and create/maintain support for our robust APIs.

What are the biggest challenges facing your product teams?

As a company we’ve made the push to become more product-led, and that itself comes with some initial challenges. While we’re moving away from that being a challenge now, here are some of the biggest challenges we’ve run into that we haven’t quite solved:

  1. Creating structure and discipline in the planning process that provides the context and value for an initiative, ensuring it has clear and complete requirements on what work needs to be done
  2. Balancing priorities to make sure we’re focused on the right things based on all feedback across the organization
  3. Establishing meaningful KPIs and OKRs that make sense across the organization and product lines.
  4. Having enough experience in the industry. We’re starting to bring more folks into the team with knowledge in our industry, which will be majorly impactful in understanding our customers’ pain points.

Learn more about common challenges faced by product teams during the planning process.

How does your team/management measure your success as Product Ops?

This is a changing target based on where we’re at as a company. Initially, the product ops goal was to implement the new planning process changes, help build the metrics, and identify the information we should be tracking. As we establish more ways we’d like to track information across our products, our success will be tied to those metrics.

In general, though, my success is measured alongside our team in how well we execute and deliver on our roadmap.

In your experience, how can Product Ops help establish an outcome-focused practice?

Being so closely tied to creating and supporting the roadmap– but also a cross-functional role across the company– one of the things that has helped is bringing definition and focus toward what are we trying to do, why we want to do it, and what value does it have for our customers or our team.

Another major helpful factor is not only looking at the initiative level but also finding where the initiatives meet the execution of the work, and comparing those metrics. Finding the common thread has driven a lot of helpful conversations about how we can better execute on the work we’d like to achieve and ultimately reach our company goals.

Other than product and engineering teams, what other groups (in the company and externally) do you work closely with?

In our organization, the project managers report through product operations to help facilitate one team to push forward the goals and missions of the company and keep the best practices aligned across the entire organization. In my discussions with other product operations managers, this doesn’t appear to be the norm.

I work closely with all parts of the organization, especially regarding launching new products and ensuring alignment for a smooth and successful rollout. This gives me a unique perspective, but also, given my history, allows me to be the most supportive.

Learn more about optimizing the roadmap process and making responsive adjustments based on goals, performance, and the market.

Keeping up with industry trends and changes in customer needs is a never-ending task, what methods do you use to stay informed? Is there a particular source (website, book, podcast, expert…) you recommend?

Specific to product operations, I’ve recently joined the Product-Led Alliance community and there’s a multitude of different resources available that I’ve found insightful. I’ve learned a lot from videos and discussions on popular social media platforms.

Generally, I’ve been trying to connect more with folks in the Product Operations HQ Community, specifically our industry. I find the more I dialogue about our product and processes, and sharing our struggles or even solutions brings new light and perspective where otherwise limited.

However, I’m always on the hunt for new books, podcasts, or resources. If you’re reading this and you’d like to talk about any and all things Product Operations, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

We hope you found this interview with Ashley Fong informative and insightful. Want to learn more? Connect with her on Linkedin.

Ready to elevate your organization’s Product Operations to the next level, just like Ashley? Explore the capabilities of Dragonboat, the industry leader in Responsive Product Portfolio Management. Streamline processes, achieve better results, and stay ahead of the competition with Dragonboat’s all-in-one centralized source of truth connecting OKRs, customer needs, product strategies, and resources with Agile execution. Schedule a live demo today to propel your organization’s success to new heights.

Knowledge Sharing in War Times

In both times of peace and times of turmoil, the context in which we operate evolves. It’s not a matter of whether these contexts exist, but rather how well-prepared you and your team are to navigate them.

As astutely stated by Becky Flint in her Peacetime CPO vs Wartime CPO article, the synergy between product and business success is undeniable, with people at the forefront. Your team’s ability to thrive amidst ever-changing circumstances hinges on their context and how you enable them. Beyond the tangible skills needed to weather change, there lies an intangible, unspoken element: the knowledge each individual possesses about the product, the team, the company, and the broader environment.

The Essence of Knowledge

Defining knowledge is a task that could extend beyond the scope of a single blog post. However, within our context, we can at least acknowledge that it encompasses more than just product expertise. It includes the ability to interpret company strategies, the acquisition of traits and behaviours necessary to be part of the team, and more. The sheer breadth of this knowledge is staggering.

Why Does It Matter?

Knowledge, as well as our unique interpretation of it, forms the core of our individuality. It’s what, coupled with our personalities, sets apart the contributions we make within our teams and, by extension, our business landscape. It’s akin to our mental model of the real world.

Considering that most endeavours involve a team, and each team member harbours their own mental models and experiences, the collective strength of a team rests on the expertise and contributions of its individual members.

The Challenge During Turbulence

In times of upheaval, pausing or dedicating time to share expertise with others can be an arduous undertaking. A study that Dragonboat conducted revealed that over half of Product Ops professionals identify “aligning cross-functional teams” as a significant challenge during quarterly planning, a hurdle that impedes business progress.

Suggestion: Watch on demand our CPO Series webinar “Aligning Around the Right Success Metrics”.

Navigating the Terrain

Among the myriad qualities of a wartime Chief Product Officer (CPO), one stands out: information mastery. Yet, there’s one aspect even more critical: speed. In an era where we demand rapid syncs, swift response mechanisms, and instant actions, decelerating seems implausible. But it’s crucial to remember that crashing at 120MPH is far harder (and potentially more disastrous) than slowing down.

If knowledge empowers us and defines our uniqueness, then having the right information at the right time equips us to be agile and efficient. When it comes to knowledge, here’s your immediate action plan:

1. Streamline Your Approach

Invest in well-documented, targeted rituals that can be anticipated. An agenda and the right audience are excellent starting points. Already documenting? Even better. When your documentation replaces a meeting, you’re a true efficiency champion.

2. Centralize Information

Strive to create a centralised repository where team members can easily access new knowledge. This includes ongoing tasks, holiday schedules, best practices, and past lessons learned. Imagine this repository as an extension of your brain — an autonomous resource that empowers your team while liberating you.

3. Construct for the Future

Invest time in crafting a robust information architecture that becomes your digital brain’s foundation. While the content within it evolves, the structure should remain steadfast. Think of it like the pods in a beehive: unchanging in size, yet accommodating the dynamic production of knowledge. Examples of these pods could be “Our Workflow,” “Strategic Direction,” “Collaboration Guidelines,” and more.

4. Promote the Culture

In the midst of challenges, evangelism becomes a vital skill. Convincing others that sharing knowledge is pivotal won’t happen overnight. But it won’t happen at all without investment. Understand that it takes time, and lead by example. Kickstart the movement by documenting your knowledge and showcasing its value to others. Remember, this is a divide-and-conquer strategy — win people over, one by one.

A Platform for Progress

Certainly, you’ll need a platform to facilitate this seamless exchange of knowledge. While jotting down every morsel of insight on paper sheets might sound tempting, there are better options. Enter Dragonboat — a tool designed to structure your team’s portfolio and foster real-time collaboration.

With Dragonboat, you can:

  • Enhance roadmap visibility
  • Optimize resource management
  • Monitor portfolio delivery
  • Align business goals with roadmaps

To discover how Dragonboat empowers product leaders and product operations teams across the globe to thrive amidst challenges, schedule a call with our experts.

How to Choose a Roadmap Tool

People often associate the word “roadmap” with “product”, but the reality is that everybody needs to create roadmaps. At the end of the day, a roadmap is a plan of action that defines what are the goals that we are trying to achieve, and how to achieve them.

A roadmap tool helps users create, manage and share roadmaps. There are many options available in the market, but how do you effectively choose a roadmap tool for your specific needs? Ultimately, the process of selecting a roadmap tool is really important because that tool will influence how you think, plan, communicate and work, and it should also help you maximize your business outcomes.

If you are trying to choose a great roadmap tool but don’t know how to do a proper evaluation, this quick guide will come in handy. So, what does the best product roadmapping tool deliver?  We’ve narrowed it down to 4 key areas and broken down a checklist for each:

1. Transforms Your Workflow to Outcome-Focused

  • Connects strategy to product delivery.
  • Creates, builds, and shares visual roadmaps based on data, allowing product managers to defend their plans easily.
  • Goes beyond planning by providing portfolio allocation that is seamlessly integrated.
  • Connects to execution tools (Jira, GitHub, Clubhouse, Asana), so you know where you are and whether you can deliver your roadmap.

2. Flexibility

  • Enables various roadmapping styles, such as OKR or outcome-based roadmaps.
  • Easy to use across all levels of the product org —  individual PMs, group managers, Chief Product Officers, and their stakeholders
  • Integrates with engineering, development, and communication tools.
  • Allows you to build various roadmaps in minutes — changing formats in a few clicks while using the same data.

3. Creates Visibility into Your Organization

  • Maintains tight alignment that’s loosely coupled for cross-functional teams.
  • Gains insights and analytics around requests.
  • Delivers one-click roadmap sharing in various formats, only showing the data you want and multiple levels of granularity depending on the audience.
  • Views roadmap roll-ups across multiple levels and hierarchies, giving your entire product team multiple lenses to view their efforts.
  • Goes beyond planning by providing automatic tracking and alerts with roll-up progress and predictive schedules.

4. Empowers Teams

  • Receives best practices and pre-set workflows designed specifically by former product leaders.
  • Provides best practice education, free product management, and product-ops webinars, and a community of product professionals willing to help you make better decisions that accelerate business outcomes.
  • Connects with a team of world-class team product consultants as your customer success manager.

Good vs. Great Product Roadmap Tools

Now that you know what to look for when choosing a product roadmap tool, let’s look at what sets a great tool apart from the rest.

OK Roadmap ToolGREAT Roadmap Tool
VisualizationVariety of formats such as board, list, and GanttVariety of formats while also laying in multiple perspectives: Goals or work, themes, strategies, time horizon
PlanningTimeline basedChoose the style that works for your team —timeline-based, lean roadmap, strategic plan — while connecting multiple horizons across various teams and dependency plans.
Prioritizing Supports RICE, MoSCoW, or simple scoring models Support RICE, MoSCow, simple scoring ROI-based prioritization, and target allocation models, in addition to dynamic prioritization models that connect shifting goals or strategies via MoAR
Portfolio Can group multiple teams for roll-upCan roadmap across multiple teams, and at individual team levels to support both top-down roadmaps and bottom-up roll-ups

A basic roadmap tool illustrates a wish list. A great roadmap tool should support a portfolio approach to building products while collaborating with product operations, engineering, go-to-market teams, customers, and external parties. And it should, ultimately, help you maximize your business outcomes. 

At Dragonboat we help teams practice outcome-focused and customer-obsessed product management.  Dragonboat is a complete roadmap tool for your outcome-focused product teams. Check it out via Dragonboat’s free trial today or schedule a demo with one of our product expert consultants. We’re here to help and get you on your way to accelerate outcomes.

Why Dragonboat CTA

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

The 90-Day Success Plan for New Chief Product Officers

Executive Summary

When embarking on a new challenge with a new company, the most successful Chief Product Officers (CPOs) do an incredible job making an impact within their first 90 days. They don’t worry about massive, overarching changes. Instead, they focus on:

  1. Using curiosity to assess the current situation
  2. Building deep relationships while aligning goals
  3. Introducing new internal structures but not sweeping changes
  4. Providing a source of truth that brings org-wide visibility

Start slow. Accomplishing the above in your first 90 days ensures you’ll establish credibility. You don’t want to be the new Chief Product Officer that comes in too hot—quickly making overhauls and rapidly changing everything without the proper context. You’ll likely step on people’s toes and have difficulty building the trust you need for your long-term vision if you do. 

In this post, I dive deeper into the four areas of focus. I also outline tangible examples for quick wins. These are key takeaways that you can use to guide your 90-day success plan. 

New CPOs Wanted

Search for “Chief Product Officer jobs” and see how many listings appear. 14,797. That’s the number you’ll see on various job boards (at least at the time of this writing). There’s good reason so many companies are waking up to the need for this pivotal role. 

The Chief Product Officer oversees an organization’s entire product portfolio while:

  • Tying product work to company strategy
  • Making the best investment decisions that drive outcomes
  • Keeping their teams motivated and focused
  • Helping navigate internal stakeholders to keep the product org viewed as a strategic partner, not an order taker or feature farm.  

Chief Product Officers balance multiple dimensions, including customer needs, business goals, and engineering resources. They set the top-down strategy and empower their teams to create the bottom-up plan.

After talking with dozens of CPOs, I’ve found that there are two trends:

  • CPOs are the newest role in the C-Suite 
  • The most significant skill gap for new CPOs is portfolio management

These trends don’t surprise me. The CPO role is very fresh and new to many organizations. It requires a mentality change from delivering features to driving outcomes. It also means taking a broader perspective, from one product to the entire portfolio. 

But the Chief Product Officer cannot do it alone. They must communicate effectively and collaborate with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for budget, the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) to drive revenue, and the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) to retain customers. 

The responsibilities of a Chief Product Officer come with pressure and an expectation to implement meaningful change with significant results. This is precisely why I’m writing this blog post—to give you a 90-day success plan so you can lead your product organization with confidence. 

Here are the most critical areas to focus on in your first 90 days as Chief Product Officer:

Assess the Situation With Curiosity

Before you do anything with the product, you first need to understand what’s working and what’s not. Prior to implementing changes, go on a listening tour. 

  • Spend time with direct reports and cross-functional peers
  • Find out everything you can about the immediate problems and uncover unknowns
  • Validate your assumptions and start to create a short-term roadmap

The goal is to look for quick wins and alignment with the new team. You want to discover areas of opportunity and identify things you can put into place fast to establish trust. Fix inefficiencies to create more bandwidth with the existing resources. This isn’t the time to think about who you’re going to hire or how to implement a brand new strategy—it’s all about understanding what’s been done to date, what works, what doesn’t, and how you can drive immediate impact with the existing team. 

You’ll now have a set of assumptions to validate with your stakeholders as you build your plan and create your roadmaps.

Build Deep Relationships and Align Goals

This may sound counterintuitive, but your peers are more important than your boss outside of direct reports. Why? Because delivering real product innovation requires a true partnership from your cross-functional cohort, the Chief Revenue Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Financial Officer (just to name a few). This group must maintain alignment to ensure product development initiatives don’t fall into the build-trap—building features without having visibility into their impact on company goals.  

When collaborating with your peers, you want to find a balance between everyone’s needs. There will inevitably be competition and contention for resources and prioritization considerations. Use metrics and numbers as your friend to effectively communicate why the roadmap decisions you make will significantly impact the broader organization. Visibility is key to alignment and buy-in.

  • Understand the challenges and desires of each functional area
  • Map these areas back to your roadmap and keep everyone aligned on the outcomes you’re trying to achieve
  • Prevent one group from overpowering the product direction
  • Help everyone understand the trade-offs of prioritization and how requests fit into the higher-level strategy

Another important stakeholder is your boss’s boss. As CPO, you should have visibility with the board, partners, and customers. Ensure you’re validating your plan and creating alignment with all key stakeholders at every level. 

Create a New Structure

Now it is time to create a new structure, but not an organizational structure, a new communication, operations, and delivery structure. You can’t completely overhaul corporate operations in 90 days, but you can evolve this layer within the product org. Start by making the shift from building features to becoming outcome-focused. 

In tackling this now, you’ll create a culture from the beginning around how your work connects to company goals. You’ll also set your department up for success by showing how it is a strategic driver of the organization’s ability to succeed and stay competitive.

To accomplish this, Chief Product Officers need someone who can become their right hand. 

  • Bring on a product operations role or up-level someone to fill this gap
  • Product Ops will help you run the strategic operations of your org to enable an influential, outcome-focused group
  • Think of Product Ops as the COO of the product org

Putting a good ops structure in place from the start ensures you facilitate a healthy rhythm of alignment across goals, strategies, and prioritization. It also forces compelling product delivery cadences and stakeholder engagements, which are crucial to your success.

Deliver Quick Wins and Provide a Source of Truth

Today’s most successful businesses and product leaders realize that spreadsheets and docs are no way to run a real business. Wins don’t always have to be shiny new features. Sometimes the most impactful wins are around:

  • Providing visibility into roadmap strategy and plan
  • Stakeholder reporting to understand objectives and progress
  • Communicating the why behind prioritization decisions

To provide this level of detail, you’ll need to create a strategic framework that guides product decisions across all levels. You’ll need a portfolio management tool to help. 

With a modern tool in place, you’ll be able to:

  • Define your strategic drivers
  • Standardize your prioritization framework
  • Set resource allocation towards objectives (OKRs) and initiatives

Now your team can make the best product decisions across the portfolio to deliver customer delight and business outcomes.

Lastly, share away! 

You’ll want to view and share roadmap progress roll-ups at all levels by dimension and in real-time. This requires specific roadmaps for each unique audience. A portfolio platform will allow you to quickly create and share these views in a few clicks, using the same real-time data. 

Can’t decide what type of tool you need? We have a guide for you: How to Choose Between a Roadmap and Product Portfolio Management Tool

Congratulations! With this level of visibility, you have created one central source of truth—all within your first 90 days. That in and of itself is an accomplishment worth celebrating. 


Here’s what I think the next wave of great Chief Product Officers will focus on to be successful:

  • Applying a portfolio approach to balance the needs of customers, business goals (OKRs), and engineering capabilities to achieve the best product outcome
  • Taking a responsive approach to planning, strategizing, allocating, and dynamically re-adjusting
  • Achieving near-term results and long-term vision within limited time and resources
  • Continuously promoting progress and sharing the source of truth, believing that transparency creates trust

Final thought: As a new Chief Product Officer, you have the opportunity to shape what greatness looks like for this role. There’s never been a better time to lean in, learn new product frameworks built for portfolio leaders, and adapt and adjust in real time.  

Wyatt Jenkins Dragonboat Testimonial

Product Ops – Good or Bad

Is product ops a force for good or bad when developing a product-led organization? Recently, Dragonboat CEO Becky Flint sat down with Simon Hilton of the ‘Product Ops People’ podcast to discuss this in detail. As it turns out, product ops can help not only product managers but also product leaders to make decisions at all levels of the business through a shared process, using relevant data. But it’s not always this simple.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the podcast: 

  • Product ops started where there were product managers – you really can’t do product without the ops bit.
  • Some of the companies that put product ops on the map did so during market expansions.
  • Product ops evolves as the company evolves and has three primary pillars.
  • There is good and bad in every function, not just product. Check out the Good Product Ops vs Bad Product ops.
  • Product ops’ mission is about enabling the product organization and product-centric company.

Listen to the Episode Here

The Evolution of Product Ops

There is a growing understanding of what product ops is, when product ops is good, and when product ops can sometimes be not helpful and create more process and waste within an organization. Becky quotes a CPO in saying, “product ops started where there were product managers – you really can’t do product without the ops bit.”

The product ops “hat” was always there; it may have been worn by a single PM in the early days and moved to a Product Director or VP of Product later on. It is just one of the many hats they have to wear to run product. 

As product portfolio manager, Becky led PayPal’s global expansion in the early 2000s, and her introduction to product ops came among her first tasks, which was working with a country launch book. Launching PayPal in a new country required more than typical product management effort – not only to orchestrate multiple product teams but also to work with legal, finance, operations, new banking partners, country teams, government relations, marketing, PR, and all sorts of roles. 

The companies that put product ops on the map, such as Airbnb and Uber, formed their product ops to start market expansion in different cities and countries. 

The Misunderstood Product Ops Role

Most “ops” roles are generalist roles meant to fill the gaps left between specialists. Therefore it’s natural that the focus and scope evolve as the ecosystem changes. The state of the business, company, team taxonomy, product go-to-market, etc., all impact the needs of the product org. Hence, the actual focus of product ops naturally evolves as the company grows.

You can divide product operations into three pillars: 

  1. Enabling teams
  2. Facilitating vertical alignment
  3. Orchestrating cross-team collaboration

When we talk about product management, it often has a narrow definition of software or some physical product. However, processes exist to solve a problem and are used by people – hence they are products by definition. Product ops are often the product managers of these process products used within the product teams and often across the company. Their mission isn’t to simply create processes but to accelerate revenue and thus, the organization’s collective success. 

The Good and Bad In Every Function

Similar to how agile is forced in some situations where it isn’t necessary, causing many to doubt its effectiveness, the same can be said of product ops. Agile is a way of working where product ops is a role. Agile trainers could be compared to product ops.  

The best way to determine the effectiveness of product operations is by measuring outcomes – and there is never one metric. A few key questions to measure are:

  • Did we ship the right product? Did we actually ship it? At what cost? Where did it move business metrics? Did customers love it? There is always an opportunity cost. A good car at a $10k price tag could be a terrible car if it costs $20k.
  • Did we grow our team? Have we addressed preventable mistakes? Did we cause burnout? Did we hire and ramp well?
  • Have we enabled our cross-functional teams to achieve their goals and, ultimately, our company goals? Or are they are left churning trying to figure out what, when and who? 

The Purpose of Product Ops

Product ops’ mission is to enable the product organization and product-centric company. They facilitate the connection between execs and teams and across groups and functions while enabling teams. 

If you’ve ever heard of the story of the six blind men and an elephant, all of them thought they were right. They were not wrong, but they decided based on what they knew or were given. They didn’t have the full context. 

The same thing happens with product organizations. Not everyone has the full context; that’s why it is so critical to have product ops connect teams and leaders across the functions. Product ops can enable the proper context in real-time or near real-time for the right decision-making and best result.

product ops roadmap to success webinar

The 5 Best Product Management Courses

We often get asked what the best courses for product managers are and what product management courses aid in career development? Whether you are an entry-level product manager or a senior product manager, there are always more ways to improve product strategy and hone your product management skills. That’s why we put together our top 5 course recommendations for product professionals.

Responsive Product Portfolio Management

responsive product portfolio management

Course: Best outcome-driven product strategy course 

Who is it for? Established product professionals

Price: $300, or free for RPPM Community and Dragonboat Customers

When: 1st Friday of every month (sign up to the RPPM Community)

Structure: 60-min course/15-min quiz | Remote | Online

Description: This quick and efficient online course is necessary for your growth in product management. In 60 minutes, you can become Level 1 certified and master the basics of Responsive Product Portfolio Management (“Responsive PPM”). 

Responsive PPM is the framework outcome-driven organizations use to dynamically connect objectives, customer needs, and resources with execution. Responsive PPM helps product professionals accelerate outcomes responsive to the state of the organization as well as the market.

You’ll learn how to make the switch from traditional Project Portfolio Management, which focuses on a basket of projects and centralized governance, to Responsive PPM, which focuses on continuously evolving products. You will also learn how to apply Responsive PPM to your day-to-day, allowing portfolio leaders to adapt and adjust in real-time to best deliver customer delight and business outcomes.

Benefits/What you will learn:

  1. An introduction to Responsive Product Portfolio Management.
  2. The 5 pillars of Responsive PPM – multidimensional portfolio management, 3 operating horizons, double diamond strategy, MoAR prioritization, responsive allocation.
  3. The difference between traditional product management and Responsive Product Portfolio Management.
  4. How to effectively apply Responsive PPM to your organization.
  5. Earn membership to the Responsive PPM, outcome-driven community.
  6. Earn your Responsive PPM credentials you can add to your LinkedIn and resume.

Instructor: Becky Flint is the CEO and founder of Dragonboat, a SaaS company with the mission of empowering outcome-driven product teams with a modern PPM tool. ​​Becky scaled product operations and built a responsive product portfolio framework for a number of tech companies like PayPal, BigCommerce, Shutterfly, and Feedzai prior to starting Dragonboat to solve the challenges she experienced firsthand at scale. 

As a product leader, she has built and grown an outcome-focused community around product operations and responsive PPM and has also attracted thousands of active and engaged product leaders. 

As a thought leader in tech leadership and product portfolio management, she is a frequent public speaker and mentors through prestigious platforms such as Insight Partners, Product School, Pearson, Plato, and Stanford.

Produx Labs Product Operations 101 Workshop

produx labs

Course: Best Introduction to Product Operations course

Who is it for? Those looking to break into Product Operations or bring the function to their company.

Price: $495

When: Monthly, see upcoming schedule

Structure: 9:00am ET – 1:00pm ET | Remote | Online | Max of 20 attendees

Description: Product Operations enable outcome-oriented decision-making at scale. This function surrounds the product and development teams so they have the support needed to make the best decisions.  This high-level course is for those looking to break into Product Operations, as well as those looking to introduce Product Operations to their company. In addition to taking you through getting started, the course answers questions like “how do you know your product strategy is working? How do your product teams get the data they need to set success metrics or know if they are on the right path?” 

The course focuses on the three major areas of Product Operations: Data and Insights, Customer Feedback and Market Research, and Processes and Governance. If you’re interested in learning more about product operations, this is the workshop for you. 

Benefits/What you will learn:

  1. An introduction to Product Operations as well as why it’s essential for scale-up companies.
  2. An overview of the three pillars of Product Operations and how they contribute to informing outcome-oriented product strategies.
  3. Implementing Product Operations at your company – best practices as well as potential watch-outs.
  4. Most commonly used tools and techniques.
  5. The roles on Product Operations teams and how to hire well (or redeploy current staffers).

Instructor: Denise Tilles has 10+ years of product experience working with growth stage and enterprise organizations. Her expertise also includes product strategy in SaaS businesses, pricing/packaging, org design, and P&L management. 

She previously created the product strategy and built the product team at Understood and led product management at Cision, a B2B enterprise SaaS company. Denise is also a mentor at Built by Girls, supporting young women to explore tech career possibilities and build their first network.

Product Maestro – Storytelling for Product Leaders

product maestro

Course: Best Product Storytelling course

Who is it for? Product professionals and general leaders who want to increase their influence

Price: 6-week course ($995) or self-study option ($550)

When: Cohorts 2x per year (see upcoming schedule) / or anytime with self-study

Structure: 6-weeks of video lectures with 1 live session/week | Remote | Online

Description: This course is designed for those in a product whose success hinges on effectively working with people. Have you ever done all the research, walked into a meeting with all the facts, but still failed to get your executives on board? It’s likely the product storytelling that missed the mark. 

Product Maestro’s storytelling course teaches you how to influence like never before. The course breaks down the different personalities that you’re pitching to, so you can bring every executive on board.

This program will not only teach you how to get execs on board with your vision, but also how to get customer buy-in. It will also teach you how to manage every high-stakes interaction, and use storytelling methodology to get your point across with crystal clarity. Learn how to better convey your message in both your personal and professional life.

Interested? Take this quiz to see what storyteller type you are.

Benefits/What you will learn:

  1. An introduction to storytelling- the structure of a great story and the basic techniques to effective storytelling.
  2. How to leverage your newfound storytelling basics so you can be more influential in the workplace.
  3. How to craft stories like Hollywood – capture attention with your stories and remain engaging in any environment.
  4. Everyone is a different storyteller type, learn how to best utilize yours and adapt to other people’s storyteller type.
  5. Learn how to best express yourself in any medium whether it be Zoom, powerpoint, on stage, or in a simple meeting.

Instructor: In her 15 years spanning enterprise and consumer, SaaS, health, energy, and semiconductor, Connie Kwan has crafted and delivered thousands of stories in her roles as Chief Product Officer and CEO. Whether it’s presenting to executives, motivating teams, or convincing candidates to join a company, storytelling is at the heart of her work. 

Her storytelling experience engaging different audiences through powerful narratives has consequently led to talking on countless public stages. She has told stories at Google Tech Talk, Health 2.0, Keynote for eCornell, Product Management Festival, and Atlassian’s annual conference. Additionally, she has been on panels for Women in Product and Product Pub and was interviewed for a podcast for Practical Product. Her passions led her to collaborate with actor and theatre director Max Koknar to create the Storyteller Method to turn the art of storytelling into a science. This is the method she continues to teach in her class.

Product School Product Management Courses

product school

Course: Best general product management skills course 

Who is it for? For product professionals looking to make a change in their career

Price: 1 certificate ($4,499) or 3 certificates ($13,499)

When: Courses start every month (sign up at Product School)

Structure: Choose full-time courses (5-days) or part-time courses (2-months on weeknights or weekends) | Remote | Online | 20 students/class

Description:  Product School is the global leader in Product Management training with a community of over one million product professionals. Their certificates are industry-recognized credentials by employers hiring product managers. Furthermore, you can choose the certificate that fits your career goals.

Their certificates include:

  • Entry- The product manager certificate helps you land your first product management job.
  • Professional – The product leader certificate helps you move up the product management ladder.
  • Executive – The product executive certificate is the first step to joining the c-suite.

Benefits/What you will learn:

  1. The Product School’s certificate program is highly relevant for the next generation of software product leaders.
  2. Product School is flexible so you can choose the course that lines up best with your schedule.
  3. Get taught by real accredited product professionals for a fraction of the cost of a traditional MBA.
  4. Upon course completion, you’ll receive industry-recognized certifications you can add to your LinkedIn and resume.
  5. You’ll also earn access into their Product School community and slack with 100,000+ product professionals. 

Instructor: All Product School instructors are real-world Product Leaders working at top Silicon Valley companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix, Airbnb, PayPal, Uber, and Amazon.

Product Management Certification Course 

product manager

Course: Best Introduction to Product Management Course

Who is it for? Those looking to break into Product Management or who want a return to the fundamentals.

Price: $350

When: You choose (sign up at Product Manager HQ)

Structure: Self-paced 7-day online course | Remote | Online

Description: The Product Management Certification Course will arm you with real-world skills you need to know about product management from learning the essential fundamentals of product management, creating your own product management project, to dominating your product management interviews. 

This course is also great for those who have been struggling to find their footing in their role or who are looking to land a great product management role. 

Benefits/What you will learn:

  1. Learn about the day-in-the-life of a product management – the ideal skill-sets to develop, the process of working with cross-functional teams, the product lifecycle and development cycle, popular development methodologies, and product ideation.
  2. How to structure and conduct proper user research and user interviews.
  3. Key fundamentals of landing a product management job and how to stand out as a candidate.
  4. How to apply product management fundamentals into your own projects.
  5. Access to PMHQ Product Management community with over 10k+ professionals. 

Instructor: Dhaval Bhatt is a Product Management Leader who has spent 16 years as an engineer, founder, and product management leader. He previously founded an artificial intelligence company that won the IBM Global Entrepreneur Award, Google Spark Award, NVIDIA AI Inception Award, Strata-Hadoop Featured Data Startup, and Orielly Intel Featured AI startup. Furthermore, he was a Senior Product Owner for Data Analytics and Growth / Acquisition at Lifelock and is currently a Product Management Leader for Artificial Intelligence at Wells Fargo. He’s also an Instructor at UC Berkeley leading their immersive Data Science program.

Why Make the Switch From Feature Roadmapping to Outcome-Driven OKR Roadmaps?

Imagine this… You’re a new product operations manager joining a company that’s reached product-market fit, has a few product managers, and a brand new Chief Product Officer who wants to move away from feature-based roadmapping to outcome-driven roadmaps. You’ve read Marty Cagan’s books, “Inspired” and “Empowered” and are now trying to figure out how to make the switch from product management to portfolio management. Your goal is to empower your product organization to become truly outcome-focused. Sound familiar?

At Dragonboat, we’ve first handedly led the scaling of multiple startups into unicorns and have been working with many teams to support their journey from feature-focused roadmapping to outcome-driven OKR roadmapping, an important aspect of responsive product portfolio management

In this post, we’ll share a summarized version of a recent conversation between Dragonboat CEO, Becky Flint, and a new product operations manager and product manager (both work in a new scaling company like the one mentioned above). Read on for Becky’s practical advice on getting started with outcome-driven roadmaps.

How Do Outcome-Driven Roadmaps Differ from Feature Roadmaps? 

Typically, product managers have a product backlog of ways they think a product could improve based on customer feedback, market insights, and so on. This practice is okay. At some point, Product Managers were taught that you should always have a well-groomed, prioritized backlog. Sounds good, but that’s the opposite of an outcome-focused approach. The reason is that when you groom the list of features you want to build, you’ve already decided on some sort of priority. However, as the business, customer, and market evolve, the way you define priority should also evolve, right? 

Feature roadmapping adopts a predefined prioritization method, not responsive to the goals and needs of the company or market. Outcome-based OKR roadmapping adjusts priority and focus based on the business and market needs. 

For example, let’s say you’re a company whose first product is doing really well and people are adopting it in droves. Great! In this case, you’re going to naturally gather a lot of feedback from your customers. You start to collect this feedback and create a roadmap based on it, according to how many people mentioned certain challenges and issues, etc. This all seems great, right? At first, yes, but I’d argue this is not the best way to define your roadmap. 

A roadmap based primarily on customer requests is an example of a feature roadmap because it often leads to focusing on the superficial level of customer needs and wants and you create features to solve them on an incremental level.

Whereas, outcome-driven roadmaps differ because they originate from a higher level of needs (goals). To explain, first, let’s take a step back. For example, an executive will look at the product focus in a different time horizon than a director or product manager. 

So from the perspective of the company, you might say, “Okay, if we’re starting fresh this year, what’s the area we’re going to focus on?” The board, investors, and the finance team will come in and propose a business goal such as, “We need to grow 100% YoY.” The next question is then, “How do we achieve that growth?” The outcome-driven roadmap will be the product team’s answer to that question, throughout the year or quarter.

At the highest level, outcome-driven roadmaps derive from a strategy that’s in alignment with the overarching goals of the company. 

Product-led organizations are abandoning feature-based roadmaps because they can result in teams delivering a faster horse. Instead, they want to achieve market-leading innovation via outcome-focused roadmaps that follow the responsive product portfolio management framework. 

It’s not to say that customer insight isn’t important. It’s critical to create products that solve customer needs, but be careful when collecting feedback. There can be a self-selection bias in the feedback because only some of the customers like to give feedback. We learned to let customers show us what they are doing instead of what some are telling, by analyzing user behavior in a variety of qualitative and quantitative ways.

What Are the Steps to Build an Outcome-Driven Roadmap?

In an outcome-focused company, the executive team will conduct periodic strategic product planning sessions, resulting in company-wide OKRs. In these sessions, the leaders  may ask, “If we’re going to grow revenue 80% YoY, what are the key buckets we need to fill?”

Then, the team sets key results to help reach that objective. For example:

  1. Grow new customer revenue by X% 
  2. Expand existing customer revenue by Y% 
  3. Launch a new service 

In a strategic planning session, you take the business goals (objectives) and turn them into strategic goals (key results), which provide more detail on how you plan to achieve them. This level of alignment must begin at the executive level.  

During your own strategic planning, look at all your goals and conduct a SWOT analysis wherein you identify your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the market; what opportunities and threats exist today. 

Based on that analysis, seeing where the company currently stands and where it wants to be in one year, let’s say, in terms of growing revenue, the next step would be to generate a list of BIG initiatives or “big rocks” to potentially undertake. 

Remaining at the executive level, it’s time to then narrow it down to no more than five to six “big rocks.” Even giant companies like eBay limit themselves to no more than six because the whole organization is going to be moved by them. 

These five or six “big rocks” are the strategic goals aka outcomes that your organization must produce. 

Ultimately, being outcome-focused implies starting with top-level strategic goals which become a set of actions that translate to strategic goals for the level below.

Read more about the rock, pebble, and sand product management approach.

Should Features in Our Product Backlog Link Back to a Specific Outcome?

Features can come from your known backlog, when they tie to known pain points to solve.

So you can take a problem area, for example, feature adoption, and your goal could be to increase the adoption rate by 30%.

And you say, “Okay, where are the problems related to feature adoption?” Then you prioritize your backlog items into that. Today, teams that use feature roadmaps very rarely state the desired outcome of a new feature explicitly, yet this is important to communicate with stakeholders. 

Essentially, you have to ask, “Which are the things we want to solve first? What is the worst pain point or the most valuable improvement we could make?” and then prioritize your backlog items towards the answers to those questions. 

Your prioritization method or framework needs to be highly related to the goals that matter for that specific roadmap.

If your main pain point is feature adoption speed, then you know not to focus on customer referrals at this point because users need to adopt the feature quickly and be happy with it before they refer it to others. 

Therefore, looking towards the next quarter, if your aim is to drive feature adoption, you can look at all the things that the team could do, including the things that have already come up. Move those items up on the roadmap, ship them, then measure their impact on feature adoption. 

If those changes moved the needle enough and drove those metrics, then the team can focus on driving referrals next. While you don’t have to do just one or the other, it’s important to be primarily focused on one. 

That way, from a product operations perspective, you have a dashboard and you can work across multiple teams because all outcome-driven roadmaps depend on cross-team collaboration.

How Often Should We Communicate Our OKR-Roadmaps to Stakeholders?

In an outcome-focused product team, the communication, or rather, engagement, with stakeholders should be bi-directional and frequent. There are different types of engagement. For example at semi-annual strategic alignment, the engagement and communication are around goals and strategies at the executive level. 

And then on a quarterly or bi-monthly basis, sort of the mid-range for alignment, the communication and engagement is around reviewing their annual or semi-annual goals, and then adjusting the quarterly focus. 

And then there are also bi-weekly or weekly product operations reviews or roadmap updates, which are mostly around the product team itself. They look at their metrics, KPIs, goals, progress against the roadmap, etc. 

The product team may also have a bi-weekly read-out interaction with other cross-functional teams like sales and customer success. This does not need to be a meeting. It can be just a refresher of the point in time state of the product portfolio. A tool like Dragonboat can help with stakeholder engagement by creating a central source of truth for data to be accessible and referred to in real-time.

If the function exists, product operations designs and orchestrates the product rhythm, from annual/ semi-annual strategic planning to quarterly alignment, and bi-weekly or weekly ops reviews and stakeholder engagement. 

How Can Outcome-Driven OKR Roadmaps Make Our Product Managers’ Lives Easier?

Outcome-driven roadmaps make it easy for non-product managers to understand why one feature is prioritized higher than another. 

When communicating with stakeholders, product managers may use scores like RICE (reach, impact, confidence and effort) or other scoring systems. But these terms and numbers in the scores are hard to understand.

When speaking about the roadmap in terms of business objectives, it becomes more tangible, everyone can understand the same language. Product managers will say, “We’re going to aim towards greater feature adoption because that will help us to grow faster,” rather than something like, “Feature A will have a 25% larger button.”

There are often multiple teams involved to drive a desired business outcome. With an outcome-focused OKR roadmapping practice, not only do you build an outcome-focused product organization, you build a collaborative organization. 

How Often Do You Suggest Refocusing Across Team Roadmaps?

Outcome-focused OKR roadmapping by definition needs to be adjusted periodically. How often depends on how often you can measure the impact of your new product releases. 

Speaking generally, there are three types of outcome velocity:

Fast to result, for example, a growth roadmap is often filled with quick experiments like A/B tests. This type of roadmap obviously changes very fast, because as soon as you release something to production, you can measure the outcome. You can then use that information to inform the next decision.

Slow to measure, for example, platform work, refactors, etc. It takes a long time to build and may or may not be immediately measurable in a meaningful way.

And then the third type of roadmap is somewhere in the middle. You might ship something in a month or two, but it doesn’t immediately hit customers. This happens especially if you’re in B2B where you need to get users to adopt it and then get relevant metrics. So, in this case, it will take longer.

The frequency with which you refocus your roadmap depends on how quickly you can measure the change in the outcome metrics. 

That’s why, for most B2B companies, quarterly roadmap alignment becomes more common because they release something maybe once or twice a month, and then it takes a couple of months to really see the impact.

Do You Have Any Tips on Making the Change to Being Outcome-Focused Stick? 

There are three things that teams need in order to pull off the transition to being outcome-focused. 

  1. Find someone to act as a change agent – in many cases, that could be the Chief Product Officer. They were most likely brought on to scale and take the product org to the next level. This is often when the Product Ops role is introduced to help product teams scale effectively. 
  2. Plan an agile rollout – make outcome-focused roadmapping part of a responsive product portfolio practice. Product is a product. Have a vision, roll out gradually, and update as needed. A common path is to start with mapping initiative to OKRs, then expand to cross-portfolio dependency mapping, then portfolio allocations, and then closing the loop with outcomes fed back to planning. 
  3. Use the right tool to complement the process – rather than starting with homegrown spreadsheets, find a tool that has the process and framework baked in.

Adopt the right outcome-focused OKR roadmapping / ppm tool along with your process change because the tool will facilitate and reinforce the change and provide visibility on improvements needed. 

For example, imagine you want to transition your team from waterfall to agile by using sticky notes or spreadsheets. It would be very hard. But if you say, “Hey, here is agile and scrum 101, and here’s Jira. Let’s use it as we transition to agile development.” Then, you’ve already made some progress in the right direction just by starting to use Jira with its structure built for agile development.

Are you making the switch from feature roadmaps to outcome-driven roadmaps? What other advice would you give? Let us know, tweet us at @dragonboat_io!

Top 12 Product Operations Tools

Rapidly growing companies around the globe are looking to scale without hampering their ability to deliver winning products to market. Operations roles are key here and the need for them in the product org is no exception. One of the biggest reasons behind the growing demand for product operations tools and professionals is the increased scope of responsibilities for modern product managers and the emergence of the product-led movement.

Product teams are now a key catalyst for growth and responsible for driving business outcomes.

Product operations (aka product ops) gives product teams the tools they need to move from being feature focused to outcome focused, connecting product teams, customers and stakeholders to achieve the best outcomes across the entire portfolio. Additionally, product ops plays a critical role in owning and evolving the processes and tools for individual product teams and the entire product portfolio.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the different tools that product operations might use or should be familiar with in order to empower their product teams. 

Recommended Product Operations Tools to Get the Job Done Right

Here are 12 main categories for product management tools and product operations tools:

  • Product portfolio management (PPM) and roadmapping
  • Agile development
  • Usage analytics
  • Product experience
  • Data analysis and visualization
  • Heat mapping
  • User testing
  • A/B testing
  • Collaboration
  • Knowledge management 
  • Collecting feedback
  • Prototyping / wireframing

Below, we’ll touch on some of the most recommended tools by product operations managers for each category. 

Disclaimer: Having 1 of each of these 12 types of tools isn’t necessary to deliver a winning product! With just a handful, it’s possible to deliver better quality products that move the needle faster.  

1. Dragonboat

Main uses: Product portfolio management, outcome focused roadmapping

Dragonboat is the fastest growing product portfolio management platform for outcome-driven leaders to strategize, prioritize, plan and deliver industry-leading products. With Dragonboat, product operations is equipped with the tools it needs to help product leaders connect OKRs with initiatives, build data-driven roadmaps, integrate with engineering tools for execution, and inform future iterations with past results all in one place. 

Product ops leaders are quickly finding value in Dragonboat because it’s been designed to help teams follow best practices stemming from the responsive product portfolio management framework (Responsive PPM). Leading companies like Miro, Chime and F5 employ Responsive PPM to adapt and adjust in real-time to best deliver customer delight and business outcomes.

product operations tools dragonboat screen

Dragonboat is the only ppm and roadmapping tool for: 

  • Connecting OKRs, Customer needs and building outcome-focused roadmaps using data-driven prioritization and allocation modeling
  • Enabling a strategic framework to guide product decision making across all levels
  • Effective planning and tracking of portfolio dependencies
  • Creating holistic plans, gaining real time visibility, and creating forecast schedules that prevent delays
  • Building customized reports and sharing roadmap updates automatically to the right stakeholders
  • Allocating resources and adjusting responsively, in real-time, by any dimension (OKR, themes, teams) and level (bet, initiative, feature) with scenarios
  • Centralizing customer insights and requests and linking them to product features dynamically, organizing them multi-dimensionally
  • Seamless integration with dev tools like Jira, Azure Devops, Clubhouse

Learn more about Dragonboat for product ops

Alternative tools that could be used for OKR portfolio roadmapping are Google Sheets and Google Slides.

2. Jira

Main uses: Agile development management, bug tracking

Jira is one of those tools that, for professionals in software development, needs no introduction. Jira is the #1 software development tool used by agile teams to manage their workflow from sprint planning to code releasing. Teams use Jira to manage software development activities with its out-of-the-box workflow templates (like Scrum and Kanban). One of its major advantages is that it integrates with other leading tools, e.g. product portfolio tools (Dragonboat), DevOps tools (e.g. Bitbucket, Jenkins, Github, Gitlab) and knowledge management tools (e.g. Confluence). 

Jira screenshot product operations tools

Jira is best one of the best tools for:

  • Agile development using Scrum or Kanban 
  • Bug tracking 
  • Organizing and prioritizing tasks 
  • Backlog and issue management 
  • Integrating with CI/CD tools

Check out the Jira website.

Other tools for agile development management include Clubhouse and Azure DevOps

3. Pendo

Main uses: Usage Analytics, in-app messaging 

As with any ops role, one of the primary focuses of product ops is collecting, organizing, analyzing and sharing data with teams across the company. Therefore, a good Product ops Manager or team will have to rely on the right tools that provide them the right data. When it comes to obtaining insights on product usage and analytics, Pendo is one of the leading options for product teams, implementation teams, and product ops managers. Pendo captures product usage patterns and user feedback while also enabling in-app communication to onboard, educate and guide users to value.

pendo dashboard screenshot product analytics tool

Pendo is one of the best tools for: 

  • Getting insights on where and how users engage with your site 
  • Tracking user behavior 
  • Onboarding resources and facilitation 
  • Analyzing the impact of a release

Learn more on the Pendo website

Other tools for usage analytics include Google Analytics,Amplitude, Heap, and Adobe Analytics

4. Gainsight CS, PX

Main uses: Product experience, customer success

The category creator and leader among customer success tools, Gainsight aggregates and turns disparate customer data from multiple sources into a single source of truth. Review customer data-driven insights and deploy actions that drive business outcomes for your clients. This tool allows you to get a comprehensive view of your customers, understand trends and risks, and empower your team to scale with proven actions that deliver outcomes. A thought leader and early mover in customer success, Gainsight built its tool around best practices to help SaaS companies retain customers. Product Ops teams can benefit from pulling data from Gainsight to give critical feedback to product teams and deliver information for executives to make business decisions. 

Gainsight screenshot

Gainsight is one of the best tools for: 

  • Teams working with Salesforce
  • Processing data from different sources, and displaying it in an easy-to-consume manner
  • Sorting customer accounts by various health factors
  • Understanding account health to be alerted to accounts that are most at risk of churn

Visit to learn more.  

Other product experience tools include Churnzero, Totango, and Vitally

5. Tableau

Main uses: Data analysis and visualization

Tableau is a market-leading tool for creating interactive graphics to visualize data from almost any source, with multiple format options. With Tableau, you can quickly perform ad hoc analyses that reveal hidden opportunities and ask questions in natural language. It has a drag and drop functionality to create interactive dashboards with advanced visual analytics. With product ops focusing heavily on data, Tableau is an essential solution to help them easily ask and answer questions in real-time, informing stakeholders who can make smarter product and business decisions. So, it’s not surprising that when we analyzed dozens of product operations job descriptions, Tableau was one of the most cited tool skills to have. 

Tableau screenshot

Tableau is one of the best tools for:

  • Ad-hoc reporting
  • Business intelligence standard reporting
  • Behavioral analytics
  • Report output and scheduling
  • Data discovery and visualization
  • Trend / problem indicators
  • User research analysis
  • Predictive analytics

Visit the Tableau website.

Other tools for data analysis and visualization include Looker, Qlik Sense, and Zoho Analytics

6. Hotjar

Main uses: Heat mapping, CRO

Hotjar offers a fast and visual way to understand your users. The tool enables your team to get instant visual feedback, see how people are really using your site, and uncover insights to make the right changes. Hotjar equips teams with product experience insights, showing them how users behave and what they feel strongly about, so they can deliver real value. Hotjar is a great tool for discovering product opportunities, consolidating qualitative and quantitative data, and communicating user needs. 

Hotjar screenshot

Hotjar is one of the best tools for: 

  • Getting real customer insight and data and to understand pain points and find out how to eliminate friction
  • Gathering insights used to define roadmaps and A/B testing strategy
  • Visual session recording
  • Conversion funnel analytics
  • Usability testing

Visit the Hotjar website.

Other tools used for heatmapping include ContentSquare and VWO.

7. UserTesting

Main uses: Real user testing, usability testing

UserTesting enables organizations to deliver the best customer experience powered by human insights. With UserTesting’s on-demand human insights platform, companies across industries make accurate customer-first decisions at every level, at the speed business demands. Several product teams, marketers, digital and customer experience executives use it to confidently and quickly create the right experiences for all target audiences, increasing brand loyalty and revenue.

User Testing screenshot

UserTesting is one of the best tools for: 

  • Usability testing on product prototypes in iterative development
  • Obtaining fast feedback (often same day) from users 
  • Obtaining qualitative data from your target audience and understanding the “why” behind users’ actions through recorded video sessions and interviews

Check out the UserTesting website.

Other tools for user testing include PlaybookUX, dscout, and UserZoom.

8. Optimizely

Main uses: A/B Testing, experimentation

Product ops teams are often tasked with owning experimentation so that product managers can focus on solving customer problems. Product ops teams use tools like Optimizely to run A/B tests to obtain data for product teams to optimize the user experience. With, Optimizely, businesses deliver continuous experimentation and personalization across websites, mobile apps and connected devices.

Optimizely screenshot

Optimizely is one of the best tools for:

  • Running experiments without the need to write code
  • Testing small UI changes and functionality to increase adoption
  • Running tests on a small percentage of your user base 
  • Running multiple experiments simultaneously

Learn more at 

Other tools for A/B testing include Split and AB Tasty.

9. Miro

Main uses: Collaboration, ideation, digital whiteboard

We recently overheard a Product Operations Manager who said, “I live inside of Miro! I love it.” Miro is a Dragonboat customer and we have to admit that we’re huge fans. Miro is one of the rising tools that has helped teams continue to brainstorm and collaborate despite not being together in the same physical location. Teams use its online, collaborative whiteboard platform for many things such as brainstorming with digital sticky notes and managing agile workflows. The tool boasts deep integrations with the Microsoft ecosystem, Atlassian ecosystem, Slack, Box, DropBox, Sketch, with over 60 templates to jumpstart collaboration. 

Screenshot of a Miro board

Miro is one of the best tools for: 

  • Overcoming challenges to remote brainstorming and interactive group activities
  • Allowing ideas and visualizations to be shared freely across teams 
  • Mind mapping and collaborative, complex problem solving

Learn more at

Other tools for collaboration include Trello, Google Docs, Slack, and Threads.

10. Typeform

Main uses: Feedback Forms & Surveys

Since every product team needs a way to collect feedback, both external and internal, product ops can help them manage or select the right tool for feedback collection and processing the data. A breakout tool for this very purpose is Typeform. You may have seen a Typeform survey before; they’re the ones that are so sleek that you don’t even mind the fact that you’re filling out a survey. Typeform makes sharing information fun and easy on any device and it integrates with just about any application.

Typeform survey screenshot

Typeform is one of the best tools for:

  • Customizable forms/surveys with multiple question types
  • Feedback management, NPS surveys
  • Building engaging and beautiful product feedback forms with templates
  • Third party integrations

Learn more at 

Other survey tools include SurveyMonkey, FormStack, and Google Forms.

11. Confluence

Main uses: Knowledge Management 

An established market player, Confluence by Atlassian is a team workspace ideal for not only product operations, but all functions. Confluence keeps everyone organized and aligned with everything from meeting notes to strategy docs and IT documentation so they can make better decisions faster and be more responsive to change. Another benefit of Confluence is that it integrates seamlessly with the Atlassian suite of products like Jira and other tools like Dragonboat to show reports and dashboard updates in real-time. 

As product ops are often tasked with the onboarding of new product team members, guarding product knowledge, and communicating it across the organization, Confluence is a great tool to add to the product operations tools list. 

confluence screenshot

Confluence is one of the best tools for: 

  • A repository or wiki for housing meeting notes, status updates, how-to documentation, product processes, etc
  • Enterprise-level document collaboration, allowing multiple users to edit a page in real-time at the same time 
  • Integrations

Learn more at

Other tools for knowledge management include Notion, Coda, Zendesk and Google Sites.

12. Figma

Main uses: Prototyping

Last but not least, every product organization relies on at least one good tool for prototyping. Figma is a cloud-based and on-premise platform that enables businesses to create custom designs and share prototypes among team members. Similar to Google Docs, Figma enables real-time sharing on the same file. 

figma screenshot

Figma is one of the best tools for: 

  • Sharing a design project with your stakeholders for their feedback and approval
  • Demoing features before coding them
  • Easy collaboration and information sharing between developers and designers 
  • When a team or group of designers want to work on a single project and leave one another comments on designs

Check out

Other prototyping tools include Balsamiq, InVision, and Sketch

The Right Tool for the Right Job

It takes the right tool to get the job done right. Modern product operations plays a strategic role in orchestrating both product teams and across the organization. This requires a new breed of PPM tool like Dragonboat. Isolated spreadsheets and “Gantt charts” no longer cut it.

One key to success for product ops is to drive a customer and outcome focus, strategic alignment as well as enabling cross-team, cross-functional collaboration and visibility. So, ask your team, “What tech stack do we need to foster alignment, clarity, communication, and collaboration?” and go from there. 

More Resources on Product Operations Tools

What do you think? Did we miss any tools? Tweet your thoughts to @dragonboat_io

OKR Product Management: Aligning Product OKRs to Outcome-Focused Roadmaps

Product management goes beyond addressing customer needs. It is about balancing customer requests, product initiatives, and your company’s strategic vision. If your organization uses OKRs as a goal-setting framework, aligning product OKRs and initiatives is key to determining which features to prioritize. In this blog, we will show you how to use product OKRs to create outcome-focused roadmaps and build customer-loved products that drive business success.

What is an OKR?

OKR stands for “Objectives and Key Results” – a framework for companies to set and track measurable goals. Objectives outline what you want to achieve, while Key Results help you measure progress.

Here are some key terms in the OKR product management framework:

  • Goals: The high-level mission or vision of an organization.
    • Example: Become the top digital banking service in the country.
  • Objectives: Specific, measurable steps to achieve your goals.
    • Example: Increase the number of users on our mobile banking app by 15% within the next year by adding new features and expanding marketing efforts.
  • Initiatives: Specific projects that help you achieve your objectives.
    • Example: Create and launch an in-app international money transfer feature.
  • Key Results: Measurable outcomes showing progress towards objectives. These should be specific, quantifiable, and time-bound.
    • Example: Reach a 15% increase in monthly active users of the app within six months of launching the new international transfer feature.

Companies use OKRs at the organizational, team, and individual levels. So, product OKRs are simply your product team’s OKRs (objectives and key results). Setting OKRs for product managers helps to align efforts toward achieving product-related objectives, such as increasing product adoption, that support the company’s strategic goals. 

Product management OKRs are essential in driving product innovation and enabling data-driven prioritization decisions because they highlight the impact of each initiative on business outcomes. Then, once you establish product OKRs, you can maintain them throughout product roadmap planning, resource allocation, and progress tracking. 

How Do Companies Use OKRs?

Companies apply OKRs to establish clear goals with measurable results and align teams around shared objectives. OKRs are used throughout an organization to promote transparency, accountability, and a focus on achieving impactful outcomes.

An Example of Multi-Level OKRs

To illustrate, let’s look at an example of how companies can use the OKR process to translate high-level business goals into specific team OKRs.

  • Management Objective: Grow our business. Key Result: Increase annual revenue by 20%
  • Marketing Objective: Optimize customer acquisition. Key Result: Reduce Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) by 20% in Q3

This marketing OKR aims to optimize customer acquisition by reducing Customer Acquisition Costs. By lowering CAC, the marketing team can effectively acquire more customers with the same budget, ultimately contributing to the management OKR of growing the business. As a result, the company can allocate saved resources to other growth opportunities, further supporting the overall business expansion.

  • Product Objective: Improve the quality of our products. Key Result: Resolve customer-reported bugs within two weeks

This product OKR example aims to increase product quality. By quickly addressing and fixing these issues, the company can enhance customer satisfaction and the user experience. As a result, this can lead to increased customer retention, positive word-of-mouth, and potential new customers, all of which contribute to the management OKR of growing the business.

  • Customer Success Objective: Enhance enterprise customer satisfaction. Key Result: Increase satisfaction rate from 4.2 to 4.8 

This customer success OKR aims to enhance enterprise customer satisfaction. By improving customer satisfaction, the company can foster stronger relationships with its enterprise clients, leading to increased loyalty, higher retention rates, and potential upselling opportunities. These factors directly contribute to the management OKR of growing the business. 

Each team OKR is specific, measurable, and aligned with the overall strategic objective to increase annual revenue. So, the beauty of the OKR approach is that it allows you to measure progress at every level to ensure results.

  1. Define your product OKRs
  2. Prioritize product initiatives within OKRs
  3. Estimate the investment, then allocate resources
  4. Track progress in a product OKR dashboard
  5. Report results to stakeholders

So, let’s bring it back to product. An OKR Product Management approach improves outcomes by reducing the number of irrelevant roadmap features, streamlining release processes, and enabling better product-market fit. 

Product teams use various tools for product management ranging from humble spreadsheets to complex software solutions. But when adopting an OKR product management approach, we recommend using a purpose-built tool like Dragonboat to connect product OKRs to outcome-focused product roadmaps seamlessly. Below we will show you how step-by-step:

1. Define Product OKRs

To create focus and alignment with your product OKRs, consider these three tips:

  1. Set quantifiable key results to measure progress while being mindful of prior OKRs for continuity.
  2. Confirm that your product OKRs align with strategic company goals
  3. Allocate appropriate resources to ensure achievable outcomes.

Using Dragonboat makes setting and managing objectives easy. You can add new OKRs, including product team OKRs, from any portfolio page and manage them from the goal-setting page or outcome module. The screenshot below shows you how this looks. 

When defining OKRs, you can also allocate resources by percentage or absolute number, enabling you to track and monitor progress to keep teams and product roadmaps aligned. Once you define your product OKRs, they become the baseline for your entire product strategy.

Shreenshot of setting product OKRs using Dragonboat.

When using a tool, you should be able to easily manage your objectives. In Dragonboat, you can Add, Edit, Merge, Archive, or Delete Objectives on the Feature Board page. From there, you can add subgoals to your OKRs to clearly map out your goal setting.

You can also add allocation, either by percentage or by an absolute number, for each OKR. So your target can later be matched with your plan to keep your teams and roadmap aligned. 

You now have your OKRs clearly defined in your tool. Take your time with this step, as it will serve as the baseline for the rest of your product strategy.


2. Prioritize Product Initiatives Within OKRs

An outcome-driven organization prioritizes initiatives for the relevant OKRs based on how much they contribute to each objective vs. the effort required to deliver the benefit. The metric to measure this is called MoAR, or Metric Over Available Resources.  

When using a product management tool such as Dragonboat, you can add features or initiatives and map them to OKRs, as shown below. 

Screenshot of mapping OKRs to initiatives in Dragonboat.

If you also use MoAR to evaluate and prioritize your features quantitatively, you can add your benefit score to the Feature List page, as illustrated.


3. Estimate the Investment, Then Allocate Resources

Although estimating the investment required to reach each objective and prioritizing initiatives is important, you must also allocate resources across all OKRs. So, Dragonboat provides a high-level view of resource needs and current allocations (shown below). Reviewing your allocations from this perspective allows you to re-balance to maximize the impact of your product efforts and achieve target outcomes. 

Screenshot of a report in Dragonboat showing resource allocations across objectives.


4. Track Progress in a Product OKR Dashboard

To stay on track, monitoring the progress of your OKRs (outcomes) and product roadmaps (initiatives) is crucial. Dragonboat simplifies progress tracking by allowing you to easily view and update the status and health of your objectives and initiatives without any additional configurations.

Screenshot of a product OKR dashboard in Dragonboat.

The snapshot page above provides a convenient way for product teams and executives to view outcome and roadmap progress side-by-side, with all metrics displayed in a single pane. 

For additional insight, integrations with tools like Jira, Github, or Asana provide real-time trend data, making progress tracking and roll-up reporting seamless.


5. Report Results to Stakeholders

You have spent a lot of time defining how your product OKRs can benefit your company, managing initiatives, and guiding your team’s work. Your progress is integral to your company’s success, important toward driving organizational alignment, and helps you focus on achieving outcomes rather than just delivering outputs. 

A good tool will make sharing results with key stakeholders, executives, and team members easy. Below is a simple example of a report using Dragonboat.

Screenshot of a stakeholder report in Dragonboat.

Key Takeaways

Outcome-focused organizations often use the OKR framework to guide decisions and expect their product teams to do the same. When this is the case, aligning product OKRS to your product roadmaps can help you prioritize initiatives that will most impact business outcomes. That will enable you to make data-driven decisions and create transparency and accountability at all levels.

A purpose-built tool like Dragonboat can help you do this by guiding you through defining OKRs, prioritizing initiatives, allocating resources, and tracking and reporting results. Schedule a demo today or sign up for a free trial to see it yourself.


How to Choose Between a Roadmap vs. Product Portfolio (PPM) Tool

Before we answer this question, let’s take a look at the difference between a roadmap and a portfolio plan.

A roadmap is one output of a portfolio plan. A roadmap conveys what will be built and the desired sequence.

A portfolio plan conveys what outcomes the product team aims to produce via the underlying strategies, associated resource allocation, and the initial drawing of a set of roadmaps that each reflect one of a few key portfolio dimensions.

If you have to juggle competing goals, align multiple stakeholders, manage dependencies, track progress, and/or adjust product roadmaps from time to time, you need more than just a roadmap tool.

You need a Product Portfolio Management (PPM) tool – A PPM tool covers the full workflow of building products, the backbone for effective product operations.

There Are 3 Types of Activities Involved in Building Products

  1. Product management activities – define the WHY and WHAT
  2. Functionally focused activities – define the HOW
  3. Program management activities – plan and track WHO, WHEN, and WHAT-IF

First, some definitions:

  • HOW – as in how the same product feature could be implemented in multiple ways, by the same engineer or a different team altogether.
  • WHO – as in the resources needed – for frontend, or backend, or data engineering, or a different team.
  • WHEN – as in the sequence and schedule, considering the HOW, WHO, and Dependencies.
  • WHAT-IF – as in the multiple product feature scenarios that can be put together in a roadmap, during both the initial plan and subsequent changes.

All 3 types of activities are essential in connecting outcomes and strategies with product and resources. This is where the multi-dimensional, responsive product portfolio management framework comes in.

Product Portfolio Management = (Product Management + Program Management) * N Team

A Product Portfolio Management (“PPM”) tool covers the WHY, WHAT, HOW, WHEN, WHO, and WHAT-IF in creating product. It enables the collaboration between product, engineering, program, and other functions involved in bringing products to market.

There are 3 types of tools today attempting to address the needs of product portfolio management.

  1. Roadmap tools, e.g. Aha or productboard
  2. Embedded “PPM”, e.g. plugins like Big picture, Structure or Jira Roadmap
  3. Complete PPM tools, e.g. Dragonboat or Jira Align

#1 – The Roadmap Tools – Covering the WHY and WHAT

Roadmap tools, such as Aha and productboard, focus on product vision, strategy, idea capture, and feature prioritization. They work well for a top-down one-directional workflow, passing prioritized ideas from product to engineering. However, there are a few key gaps when it comes to PPM support.

  • Roadmap tools do not support iterative collaborations between product and engineering, or between product teams themselves. Each product manager often works out of their siloed workspace with their own strategy and focus.
  • Roadmap tools do not support portfolio allocation, essential in prioritizing across competing goals. For example – how do you prioritize a Feature for Retention against a Feature for New Account Acquisition?
  • Roadmap tools do not support portfolio tracking, as in various rollups and against plans. Planning a timeline and tracking progress are inherently program management activities, where roadmap tools do not focus.
  • Roadmap tools do not support multiple portfolio dimensions. While strategy is a key dimension of a portfolio, business goals (e.g. OKRs) and categories are additional dimensions that should be considered for product focus and allocation.
  • Roadmap tools are not program management or product ops tools. Hence they do not support resource and dependency planning, especially around different teams and skills which are often blockers in building products that require more than 1 scrum team.
  • Roadmap tools do not provide portfolio-level reporting and communication. Gathering progress, comparing to plan, and aggregating various updates to various stakeholders that each needs different sets of data in different dimensions can be a time-consuming activitiy.

#2 – The embedded “PPM” – covering the HOW and WHEN

Embedded “PPM” solutions such as Structure or Jira Advanced Roadmap, are plug-ins that are embedded in the execution tool. They provide good roll-up reports for a predefined hierarchy of the portfolio.

However, they rely on the data that already resides in the execution tool. Hence they are not natively built for the fuzziness of the product ideation/ portfolio discovery phase.

The upstream of the portfolio management, such as defining portfolio dimensions like goals, strategies, categories, and their respective allocation, as well as scoring or other prioritization activities, are not part of the workflow of these “embedded PPM” tools.

Often, the access to execution tools is not company-wide. Or different functions/ teams use different tools for their day-to-day work. This creates additional collaboration, visibility, and contextual challenges for the “embedded PPM” tools.

#3 Complete PPM tool – covering the WHY, WHAT, WHO, WHEN, WHAT-IF

Complete PPM tools offer top-down, bottoms up and horizontal interactions and workflows to bring winning product features (or initiatives) to market faster.

The top-down workflow includes defining, aligning, and allocating to strategic goals, themes, and other portfolio dimensions, along with idea capture and prioritization. Prioritization needs to be within the framework of allocation.

If you don’t have allocation, you can’t execute strategies.

The horizontal workflow refers to the collaboration across product teams and between product and tech leads. This is often seen during quarterly planning. Most products are not built by 1 team or used by 1 type of user. Horizontal collaboration identifies and addresses major dependencies or resource bottlenecks to prevent “Agile Madness”.

agile madness

The Bottoms up workflow refers to the tracking, reporting, and adjusting of product roadmaps based on progress vs plans. A PPM tool is often integrated with team tools, e.g. Jira or Asana, for team execution. The execution progress rolls up to various levels of the portfolio and is shared with portfolio participants for context and visibility. The delta in plan vs. predicted timeline enables tracking and measuring of outcome to start the next portfolio iteration. 

Final Thoughts

At any given time, in the same portfolio, there could be a strategic roadmap, a customer roadmap, a quarterly roadmap, and even an engineering roadmap.

A roadmap is a snapshot of a point in time in one dimension of a portfolio.

A portfolio is evolving and multi-dimensional. Every product manager needs to take a portfolio approach in building products while collaborating with each other, product operations, engineering, go-to-market teams, customers, and external parties.

Dragonboat is a responsive PPM solution supporting a responsive portfolio workflow before and after scrum. Dragonboat starts with aligning and allocating to strategic goals/ OKRs and themes, supporting idea capture and product prioritization, and enabling the collaborative planning between product and engineering teams to design the best portfolio roadmap. 

Choose Dragonboat Testimonial CTA

How to Provide Product Roadmap Status Updates

“How do you provide effective product roadmap status updates for your diverse stakeholders?”

A PM recently came to me on the verge of burnout from too many status meetings and never-ending decks for her globally distributed teams in different functions. 

As someone leading program and product management for companies big and small with teams in over 100 countries, I have also had my fair shares of status updates and meetings.

Here are a few tips to make it easier:

  1. Know your audience’s unique needs 
  2. Build a communication cadence with the right frequency and format
  3. Invest in a source of truth system 
  4. Automate multi-dimensional, multi-horizon, multi-channel updates

Let’s look at them in more detail.

First, it’s important to recognize that knowing where we are now and where we are going is essential for any organization. Ensuring the right type of product roadmap information for the right audience not only enables success for your organization, it actually elevates your role. 

How? The right information in the right format enables your audience to achieve their goals, which makes you invaluable to their success. 

1. Know Your Audience’s Unique Needs

Above all, we must understand the purpose of roadmap visibility. Everyone involved in suggesting, prioritizing, designing, building, shipping, selling, and supporting products needs to know the state of roadmap. They need to know what product teams are (and are not) building, when features will be available (at least from a technical perspective), how the product should be used and communicated, and so forth. So your stakeholders can make effective, outcome-driven adjustments to their work.

A product and engineering organization typically has various information needs from the following stakeholders:

what to communicate in a product roadmap status update to different stakeholders chart

2. Build a Communication Cadence with the Right Frequency and Format

Instead of having a default weekly or bi-weekly roadmap status update meeting,  set a meeting cadence more appropriate to the velocity of your product roadmaps – that is, do you have major features and marketing updates on a weekly, monthly or maybe even quarterly basis? This should help determine the frequency of stakeholder updates in a meeting format. 

What about between meetings? People can’t be in the dark for 2 week or even 2 months, right? 

That’s where a source of truth self-serviced format applies to your diverse stakeholders. 

3. Adopt a Source of Truth System

Product managers are often the connectors of both sides, but they can also quickly turn into bottlenecks. 

Single source of truth” is an information systems concept that ensures everyone in an organization uses the same data when making business decisions. Using it for roadmap visibility allows two things:

  1. Asynchronous access to the latest information
  2. Live status updates in dynamic formats

By automating updates directly from your team’s work, you not only streamline the PM’s day but eliminate both human error and information silos. 

Having a source of truth also facilitates top-down visibility that is crucial to teams (why A and not B). Knowing productstrategies and goals helps teams to maintain alignment. Instead of trying to find what’s buried in emails or PowerPoint decks, an always-on source of truth connecting Strategies and Execution empowers engineers to build with the right context. 

4. Automate Multi-Dimensional, Multi-Horizon, Multi-Channel Updates

While a source of truth provides bottom-up and top-down visibility, we don’t have to stop there. Applying portfolio management on top of that grants tech leaders an even wider view to spot opportunities or catch mistakes. Your product is your portfolio, which means you have more than just a list of features to work with— there are the goals dimension, the customer segments dimension, and many others that go into making outcome-based decisions.

Here’s an example: We had a Product Manager whose team was focused on retention features, everything seemed fine. It was only after she adopted a multi-dimensional view that she noticed “retention” was, in fact, last quarter’s focus!

Additionally, roadmap changes happen all the time. Your teams and stakeholders need up-to-date information to fully understand the impact of those changes to better plan their work, and minimizes disruption for both internal teams and customers.

The speed and quality of available information directly impacts the speed and quality of the decisions made so make your updates count!

3 reports every PM needs CTA

This site uses cookies. Some of these cookies are essential, while others help us to improve your experience by providing insights into how the site is being used. For more information, please check our Privacy Policy. You can disable or remove cookies in your browser settings at any time. By clicking "Accept" or continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies across the site.