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Management Collaboration Tools To Drive Your Team Forward

Collaborative teams are essential in today’s dynamic work environment, but the need for effective management collaboration continues to be overlooked. Remote workforce, decentralized decision-making, and agile madness have only exasperated this issue.

Now more than ever, fast-growing global companies need a better way to connect all the moving pieces of building products in one collaborative tool for their distributed teams.

Managers that win are able to effectively connect silos by collaborating up, down, and sideways. Managers must collaborate upwards with the executive teams to align objectives and strategies, horizontally with each other to identify and address dependencies, and downwards with their teams to ensure strategic clarity and alignment.

2/3 of Inc 5000 companies fail to scale due to leadership failure.

To the disservice of managers and the company overall, the focus has been skewed heavily to executive and individual contributor level, but less so at the manager level. However, managers are the bridge between company goals and tactical execution. While leaders may drive company strategy and objectives, that goes nowhere without a strong management team to bring the vision to life.


Managers connect the dots between executives and teams, annual and weekly planning cadences, as well as strategy and execution. Creating autonomy, yet empowerment at all levels.

80% of teams struggle with competing priorities

Creating collaboration between all stakeholders is critical to success at modern companies. Successful managers don’t just manage up or down, they responsively adapt and adjust based on changing priorities.

Responsive Reallocation

Today’s World Demands Responsive Organizations

Responsive organizations rely on collaborative leaders to align, empower, and enable agile teams.

“Dragonboat automates mundane work and facilitates the best practice for responsive portfolio management connecting Agile and OKRs.  Not only does it save hours every week for every PM, but it also created unprecedented alignment across all our teams and offices”

Mauro Martins, Director of TPM

Collaborative leaders rely on Responsive Product Portfolio Management (“Responsive PPM”). Responsive PPM dynamically connects objectives, customer needs, products, and resources with execution to accelerate business results.

Dragonboat is a responsive PPM platform that connects OKRs, customer needs, and product with Agile execution to achieve alignment and visibility across the entire company.

Program Manager vs Product Manager – The Definitive Guide

The Role of The Product Manager & Program Manager

Ever wondered what the key differences are between a program manager vs product manager and how the two roles interface with one another?

Product management focuses on the why and what. Product Managers look at the problems that need to be solved (why) and the product features that can solve them (what). The skills around generating product ideas and prioritizing them are key to product management success. 

To communicate their vision, product managers often create product roadmaps, a visual “wish-list” of the desired sequence of product features. 

Program management focuses on the when and how. They look at the planning, resourcing, and trade-off of competing product features given the limited resources (when). Then they also look at the sequencing of the suite of product features given priority, dependencies, and changes/ interruptions (how). 

Product managers focus on the why and the what of building products while program managers focus on the when and the how.

There are also additional elements of “the how”, such as user experience, engineering solutions, and go-to-market approaches. These “hows” are incorporated into the program plan, (aka Execution Roadmap). This serves as a substantiated product roadmap that includes all the essential elements for a successful delivery.

Most product managers work with a dedicated team, whereas a program manager may work across multiple product teams and product managers and is often aligned with a Director or VP of Product. In companies without a dedicated program manager, a product manager will often program manage her own product and programs. In some companies, there are individuals or teams that serve the product operations role which covers some program management responsibilities.

program manager vs product manager

The Role of The Product Portfolio Manager

Portfolio management focuses on orchestrating product management plus program management across multiple areas to define and achieve the best outcomes as agreed upon by the portfolio stakeholders. 

Portfolio management starts with defining and aligning goals and strategies facing the portfolio participants. Next, they identify allocations to help guide and inform the product and program planning.

product portfolio management and program manager vs product manager

The Difference Between Traditional and Responsive Product Portfolio Management

Responsive product portfolio management is one step further than product portfolio management because it adds goals and outcomes into the portfolio process. So goals are based on the results from the previous iteration to guide subsequent rounds of allocation prioritization and execution. Thus, it creates a closed-loop product portfolio cycle where outcomes and results influence future strategy, priority, and roadmaps.

roles of program manager vs product manager in responsive ppm

It’s easy to understand the portfolio management skills needed when running a budget consisting of millions of dollars in large enterprises for multiple product lines. But it’s also crucial for small companies to treat their product as a portfolio.

A product manager in a software startup with three engineers also plays the portfolio manager role. How so? A digital product, as the end-user knows it, is often multiple products from the company’s point of view because it serves multiple personas and use cases. Take a mobile game app, for example, it’s a completely different product for a consumer, advertiser, and admin.

The Future of The Product Organization

A product manager’s job is more than building products that customers love. A product manager’s job is to build the right product, for the right customers, at the right cost and time, so that the company can achieve its business goals.

program manager vs product manager equation

This requires the responsive product portfolio management framework – the ability to connect business goals, customer needs, product strategies, resources, and execution with outcomes. 

As every product organization needs to juggle many business goals, customer needs, and so on, portfolio management is needed by every product organization.

Traditional product portfolio management (PPM) relies on expensive tools that take months to implement, an army of people to maintain, and months to make changes. 

Dragonboat democratizes product portfolio management – it’s lightweight, economical, and quick to implement. The Dragonboat platform seamlessly integrates with popular agile tools like Jira, Github, Asana and Shortcut. It requires no process or tooling changes to existing engineering practices.

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Effective Feature Prioritization with Product Portfolio Management

A product manager recently posted on a community group that she is looking to change her career as she feels exhausted from constant fire fighting in managing competing priorities and stakeholder demands. When I recommended Dragonboat, she was puzzled: “But we only have one product. Isn’t portfolio management only for large companies with many product lines?”

Not necessarily! According to Investopedia portfolio management boils down to three things:

  1. Determining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the current market
  2. Selecting investments and allocate appropriately to a set of parameters
  3. Rebalancing periodically

You can see that it is not so much about managing the size of your portfolio, but managing your choices. This is not too different from what a product manager does — you are constantly thinking about the product investment mix to maximize your desired outcomes.

This is exactly what responsive portfolio management is. Applying portfolio management principles, allows us to reframe how we think about product roadmaps. Every product, even if it is the only one in the company, is essentially a multi-dimensional portfolio of priorities and demands.

A Product Manager’s Portfolio

Like the finance industry, we often use SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to chart our market and product plans. 

However, that is where the comparison ends. While financial advisors work with clear monetary values — such as profit, revenue, or market share — product managers have a wider set of variables and a broader definition of “the best outcome”.

That means we can derive multiple types of portfolios depending on how we view the roadmap. For some broad examples:

  • Objectives
    These can be long- or short-term objectives such as acquiring or retaining customers, reducing operational costs, or expanding into new markets.
  • Customer Segments
    New, existing, enterprise, or partners.
  • Investment Categories
    Such as deciding between product innovation and tech platform refactoring.
  • Stakeholder Needs
    Both internal and external such as customer feature requests, realigning the product for the market, or addressing tech upgrades and debts.

Why Would You Want a Multi-Dimensional View?

A multi-dimensional view lets you:

  1. Address multiple elements of “product success”; and
  2. Make the right allocation decisions faster (i.e. focus vs. support).

Imagine you have a new product. The sign-up numbers look good but, after a week, these users stop coming back. As a result, the team must shift their focus on how to improve retention. Once that is under control, you can shift back to user acquisition, efficiency improvements, and so on.

Many conventional prioritization frameworks are based on a fixed formula such as scores or ROI, and do not reflect the changing needs of the customer or market.  Over time, it may lead you into a “peanut butter” situation where the product simply fails from the company’s resources being spread too thin.

By looking at it from a portfolio perspective, product managers are empowered to understand the current state of the product and market to decide on a responsive prioritization method for identifying areas that truly need your limited resources.

Think of it as trying to fight a forest fire — you look at it from the ground and the top, analyze the situation, and then prioritize, allocate, and deploy. That is what it takes to be a forward-thinking product leader. 

Responsive PPM CTA

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