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.

Boosting Outcomes: The Role of Product Operations in Streamlining Your Company’s Processes

This blog post was created in partnership with “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 business, and organizations are discovering its benefits. In this interview series, we explore best practices from Responsive Product Portfolio (RPPM) advocates. RPPM is a framework for product-led organizations that connects objectives, customer needs, products, and resources for faster outcomes. Join us to learn key insights and tips for success in Product Operations.

Interview with Hugo Froes

Welcome to our exclusive interview with Hugo Froes, the mastermind behind OLX Motor’s product operations. With over two decades of experience in the product and design industry, Hugo has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share. He’s explored user-centered methodologies, team topologies, and change management, all with the goal of creating scalable and sustainable product teams. His passion lies in helping teams unlock their full potential to create better products that exceed expectations.

Hugo is also an accomplished teacher and mentor, having taught at various institutions and co-founding UXDiscuss. As a former board member of the Global ResearchOps community, he’s always eager to give back to the community and help shape the next generation of designers with his user-centered methodologies.

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

Just prior to moving into Product Operations, I was part of the design Practice team at Farfetch, which is similar to Design Operations.

I’ve been working in the world of Product Ops for 3 years and I’ve been in my current role for just over a year.

What are the biggest challenges facing your product teams?

There are challenges that I’ve seen consistently through most of the product organizations I’ve worked with over the past few years.

  1. How to be outcome-focused, and yet show that you are delivering updates, improvements, or innovation
  2. How to measure effort versus the impact of the work
  3. How to have clearer connectivity between the various levels of strategies, objectives, and initiatives
  4. How to be truly collaborative and with the new reality, how to be either remote or hybrid and do it well
  5. How to clearly measure the impact of the product organization
  6. How to prioritize the right things to work on
  7. How to have smoother/simpler planning cycles
  8. How to show the advantages of being product-led
  9. How to streamline practices to reduce effort and waste

And then on a maybe lower scale, but equally important for the teams:

  1. How to do just the right amount of documentation
  2. How to organize everything
  3. Defining the right structure for your teams and organization
  4. Working with stakeholders
  5. Working with other disciplines efficiently
  6. How to mature the people and the organization well

I think I could keep going on. There’s just so much that needs attention. And the bigger the organization, the messier and more complex each of these can be.

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

I think this is a point that most Ops teams struggle with and I’m not the exception. But as a baseline, I look for operational measurements of efficiency related to the topics that the organization feels are important at that moment.

For example: If we have to grow the team, then I’ll look at hiring metrics together with the hiring team. Things like applicants that enter the hiring final vs. those that actually get hired, or even how many get to the first interview. That gives me an idea of whether we’re attracting the right talent or if our hiring process is efficient.

Right now, a lot of my results are measured by where improvements are seen in efficiency or effectiveness. For example, with vendor management, if I am able to streamline the processes, reduce costs or improve how we make decisions on whether we’re working with the right solution to decrease the number of bad choices.

But in general, I get measured along with the rest of the leadership group on how our product organization is improving. How much it’s maturing and how that is impacting our revenue and growth.

Learn more about how to guarantee Product Operations effectiveness here.

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

I think one of the simplest forms is connected to the fact that product operations is often connected to planning and reporting practices/processes.

We can help move the narrative towards the results of the way we’re working rather than just what we are delivering because those results show our growth and impact as an organization.

But more than that, we could potentially do a comparison using data sources of how much we delivered versus the impact on the results. This is often sugar-coated, and by showcasing that, we are at least able to argue that we aren’t being efficient. If all the operational costs of the organization are too much higher than the return, then we’re clearly not being efficient.

Challenging the organization to look at what we are going to attempt to achieve, whether through setting OKRs, NSM, or just simple goals, we move them to focus on driving results. The initiatives that are created are focused on achieving those results.

I’m a big fan of the North Star Metric Framework and have seen it working well when done properly. OKRs, equally, when done well, can yield great results. Both together work well too.

Learn more about OKR templates for Product Operations here.

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

I work closely with Design, Research and Data, depending on the topic. 

I also work with Procurement, Legal, Finance, HR and externally with vendors we work with.

In this role, I feel I have to connect to as many people as possible to uncover potential connections or areas of improvement.

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?

That’s a good question. I would say that depending on the industry we’re working in, our resources for market trends may vary and from Farfetch to OLX, the resources changed from Fashion tech trends to motors marketplace trends.

But in general, in terms of industry of product and product operations, I like the Product-led Alliance community, Mind the Product, Operations Nation, and more recently, ProductOpsHQ.

In terms of professionals, I’m always going to suggest John Cutler, Marty Cagan, and Melissa Perri. But I’ve also enjoyed following Denise Tilles, Antonia Landi, and Michelle Merrill.

In terms of Podcasts, I think the most interesting are The Product Ops Podcast and Melissa Perri’s podcast, but there are a few interesting episodes of podcasts out there worth listening to.

Beyond that, I love reading books on processes and ways of working. Especially those that challenge my way of thinking or my assumptions. But I also love reading books on behavior, leadership and group dynamics. Some of my favs? Thinking backwards, Switch, ReWork, Sprint, Empowered, The Culture Map, The Lean Product Playbook, Lean UX.

We hope you found this interview with Hugo Froes informative and insightful. Want to learn more? Follow him on Linkedin and subscribe to his newsletter.

Are you seeking to elevate your organization’s Product Operations to the next level? Dragonboat, the industry-leading platform for product portfolio management, can help you get there. Streamline processes, drive better outcomes, and stay ahead of the competition. Seamlessly connect your OKRs, customer insights, and product initiatives in one centralized source of truth. Book a demo today and see how Dragonboat can help take your organization’s success to the next level.

Cprime Joins Dragonboat’s New Partner Program

Introducing Cprime and Dragonboat’s New Partner Program

We are very excited to welcome Cprime as the first official partner of Dragonboat’s new Partner Program. Cprime is a global leader in product, agile, and cloud software services, with product agility solutions designed to help organizations build the right things to satisfy customers and impact the market.

For almost 20 years, Cprime has been a trusted strategic advisor to organizations undertaking Agile and Digital transformation. Their dynamic solutions converge to solve for enterprise agility, enterprise technology, and learning challenges, big or small. 

Cprime’s alliance with Dragonboat represents a commitment to helping teams connect work to outcomes to make the best product investment decisions that drive business value and customer delight. In fact, during the earliest stages of our relationship, we have discovered multiple mutual customers who are seeking to improve how they make product investment decisions; a clear signal of market needs.

Driving Outcome-Focused Product Journeys

Dragonboat is the clear choice for chief product officers and product operations teams that are responsible for delivering value to both customers and the company, at a time when legacy roadmapping software options perpetuate the build trap

Winning organizations choose Dragonboat to escape the build trap, and drive outcome-oriented product strategies.

Since our founding, we’ve worked with thousands of product teams to:

  • Transition to outcome-focused roadmapping
  • Solve for OKR misalignment
  • Bring calm to agile madness
  • Allocate resources to the highest-priority product initiatives
  • Effectively scale product operations 

As chief product officers gain prominence in the c-suite, they are leaning on Dragonboat to tell the story of how product is driving business outcomes with a new approach to product management.

This is where Cprime comes into play.

Cprime + Dragonboat To Accelerate Portfolio Outcomes

Dragonboat and Cprime share a common goal of improving how product organizations manage their product portfolios, not in siloed product teams, but more connected with the rest of the organization. 

“There is no better product out there that truly connects what product teams are working on with the high-priority objectives that our clients are focused on,” says Monte Montoya, VP of Partnerships at Cprime. “We chose to join the Dragonboat Partner Program to bring additional solutions to our clients’ product agility transformations.”

The combination of Cprime’s product agility solutions and Dragonboat’s product portfolio management tool will help organizations to manage their product portfolio investments in an entirely new way–focused on outcomes, not burndown rates. 

We’re thrilled for the start of this new partnership with Cprime, to empower product teams and leaders alike.

Contact us to learn more about how Dragonboat and Cprime together can help you on your outcome-focused product journey. 

Choose Dragonboat Testimonial CTA

The Top Reports Chief Product Officers Use to Lead Their Product Business

Executive Summary

As a key executive team member working closely with the CEO and Board, the Chief Product Officer (CPO) is focused on leading product to drive business results.

It’s no secret that every C-Suite executive creates go-to dashboards that become their mission control center. Chief Revenue Officers look at pipeline and forecast reports, Chief Marketing Officers have lead and funnel reports, and Chief Operating Officers review operational efficiencies.

This begs the question: What are the top reports CPOs use to lead their team?

Through working with thousands of Chief Product Officers, we found out a common theme. And they are quite consistent with recommendations from these 10 world-class CPOs

There are 5 categories of reports every Chief Product Officer should have:

  1. The state of the product business: Outcome progress and roadmap progress
  2. The state of investment: Portfolio allocations (target vs actual)
  3. The state of portfolio decisions: strategic and tactical roadmaps from multiple angles 
  4. The state of execution: Say:Do Ratio at the portfolio and team level
  5. A window into Risks and Bottlenecks

Let’s take a closer look at the top reports CPOs use.

The State of The Product Business

“Chief Product Officers need to have business talks, not just product talks. CPOs need to tie business Metrics With Roadmaps”

Shelley Perry Partner at Scalelogic, Former Chief Product Officer at NTT 

This means CPOs need to closely connect their product goals with business goals and track key business metrics and their progress. 

We know that the KPI progress and portfolio roadmap progress are 2 separate items that each influence the other. 

The Snapshot Report in Dragonboat gives you side by side view of outcomes (Objective Progress) and roadmaps (Feature Progress) to see the full picture of the current state and what influences it. This product operating system allows a Chief Product Officer to adjust prioritization and allocation with instant visibility. 

Where Should We Invest? 

Should we invest in new customer acquisition or existing customer expansion? 

The answer? Both…. But sometimes you invest more in new customer acquisition, and sometimes, existing customer expansion. 

To help teams prioritize with context, Chief Product Officers must first define and align product strategies and investment allocations with the executive teams. This provides both clarity and aircover when resourcing conflicts or competing priorities inevitably arise across teams or roadmaps. 

A solid portfolio relies on having target, reported, and actual allocation reports. So impactful decisions can be made based on data and instant visibility. 

Dragonboat portfolio allocation report
Image: Dragonboat portfolio allocation report

Strategic and Tactical Roadmaps – in Multi-Dimensional Ways

Lydia Varmazis, former VP of Product at Checkr, explains: 

“As a Chief Product Officer, you must identify, manage, and prioritize a multidimensional matrix of priorities. It’s never easy, and it’s never perfect.” 

The key is to connect strategic context to your roadmaps at any and all levels.

Dragonboat is natively designed to handle this challenge. In Dragonboat, you can view Strategic Initiatives across all portfolio levels, slice and dice your data and configure roadmaps in any dimension.

For example, a common portfolio dimension is by OKR.

“Creating OKRs where they’re shared OKRs, where all C-suite executives own them holistically, creates alignment between all teams and helps build internal bridges.”

Lydia Varmazis, former VP of Product at Checkr

Outcome-focused organizations do OKR roadmapping, which guides teams to decide and prioritize what features to build. This alignment is carried out throughout the planning, resourcing, tracking, and adjusting of communication. 

A Responsive Product Portfolio tool helps to facilitate this process, guides best practices for the entire team, and rallies C-Suite executives to achieve OKRs across the entire company.

Outcome based roadmapping in Dragonboat
Image: Outcome-based roadmapping in Dragonboat 

How’s Our Execution? Say:Do at the Portfolio and Team Level

While aligning goals and defining strategies are critical, the ability to deliver is a non-negotiable requirement for success. 

One commonly used term is Say:Do ratio. Typically used in the agile/ scrum team, we can apply the same principle at the portfolio level: “We said we were going to do X at the start of this quarter. And here’s what we did.” This is your Say:Do ratio.

CPO Series

The above slide was taken from The CPO Series

Chief Product Officers need a source of truth platform connecting product and roadmap inputs and seamlessly integrated with engineering tools for execution. 

top reports CPOs use to lead their team | Dragonboat

Risks and Bottlenecks 

Ryan Polk, Insight Partner’s SVP of Product and Tech Center of Excellence, explains the importance of viewing allocation reports by:

  • Business goals
  • Customer segments
  • Strategic horizons
  • Regions
top reports CPOs use to lead their team | Dragonboat
Dragonboat: Portfolio Delivery Dashboard

“During uncertain times, tools with visibility into your company are vital because they show you what you will lose based on ROI and prevent uninformed decisions. This allows you, as the Chief Product Officer, to become a connoisseur of team structure so you can drive outcomes at a more effective level.”

Ryan Polk, SVP of Product and Tech Center of Excellence at Insight Partners


A great Chief Product Officer builds company-wide buy-in so everyone feels like they are part of the decision-making process. To do this, Chief Product Officers create and review tailored reports that keep them informed every step of the way. 

He goes on to share:

“We invested in Dragonboat because we believe it’s solving a problem. I spent years in Google Sheets and Docs, and that’s how I know this is the best tool to help you build an effective product system into the organization.”

Ryan Polk, SVP of Product and Tech Center of Excellence at Insight Partners

What is Product Resource Planning and Portfolio Allocation?

Executive Summary

Every product leader, especially the Chief Product Officer (CPO), manages a portfolio or multiple portfolios. One of the most important deciding factors for the success of a portfolio is allocation and outcome-based re-allocation, just like how investment professionals emphasize portfolio allocation more than choosing individual investments. When managing a product portfolio, proper resource planning and allocation is critical. Modern organizations are changing from feature-based planning to outcome-based product practices. CPOs are making this switch while:

  • Effectively leading a balanced portfolio to achieve both long-term vision and near-term results
  • Assessing the entire product portfolio through different lenses
  • Setting target allocations by various swimlanes or bets
  • Reviewing planned allocation and making adjustments in real-time

Responsive Product Portfolio Management (Responsive PPM) is the framework CPOs use to accomplish the above. Responsive PPM dynamically connects objectives, customer needs, products, and resources with execution. It accelerates outcomes responsive to the state of the organization and the market.

Unlike traditional project portfolio management, which focuses on a group of projects and centralized governance, Responsive PPM focuses on continuously evolving products. This allows portfolio leaders to adapt and adjust in real-time to deliver customer delight while driving business outcomes.

This post covers the common questions about product resource planning and its relation to portfolio management:

  • What is product resource planning and portfolio allocation?
  • Why is resource planning important?
  • Who is involved with portfolio resource planning?
  • How does product management and portfolio management work together?
  • How does Responsive Product Portfolio Management benefit product leaders?

What Is Product Resource Planning and Portfolio Allocation?

Traditional resource planning allocates tasks to teams based on their capacity and skills. It maximizes efficiency by keeping projects on budget and the work on track by monitoring progress. However, the digital world demands a new approach to delivering and improving industry-leading products. Why? Because we live in an agile, ever-changing landscape that requires outcomes that move businesses forward.

Instead of viewing work as individual projects, Product Resource Planning takes a holistic view. It assesses where teams should focus across the entire portfolio to meet company goals. 

Portfolio Allocation:

  • Enables companies to maximize portfolio outcomes
  • Empowers “what-if” analysis for better roadmap trade-off decisions
  • Responsively adjusts and re-allocates to the area that makes the most significant impact toward key objectives

Why Is Resource Planning Important?

Product Resource Planning ensures teams are focused on the right areas of the business. It drives transparency and helps teams aggregate data on the demand and supply of their people, skills, technologies, and resources. Rather than everyone working on what they think is essential, resource planning provides a holistic view so leaders can understand what they’re saying “yes” and “no” to. 

Without resource planning, there is no alignment with strategic objectives and no framework to rank projects based on helping the business reach its goals. 

Managing a smooth resource planning process doesn’t have to be a manual task using spreadsheets. Some of the most successful teams use a product portfolio resourcing tool to help them:

  • Identify areas of over-allocation
  • Report on where teams are spending their time
  • Review dependencies or resource bottlenecks
  • Visualize and compare what-if scenarios
Dragonboat Forecast module to check current allocation against the target
Example of a real-time view of Planned Portfolio Allocation in Dragonboat

Who Is Involved With Portfolio Resource Planning?

Any function required to build and deliver products gets involved with portfolio resource planning. Championing the process and keeping the core planning team aligned is one of the primary responsibilities of a Chief Product Officer. In addition, they also provide other leaders and stakeholders outside the resource group with visibility into portfolio performance, which is directly related to how they handle resource planning and portfolio allocation.

CPOs collaborate with leaders from the following areas to make data-driven roadmaps that keep resources on track and product line efforts aligned with business strategies:

  • Development for programming work
  • Marketing for positioning and messaging
  • Sales for pricing, demos, and closing
  • Customer success for continued adoption and cross-sell opportunities
  • Finance for budgeting and optimizing margins

By partnering with business leaders and functional managers for resource planning, CPOs balance multiple dimensions, including customer needs, business goals, and engineering resources—which are the ultimate drivers in deciding how a company should spend its time and money.

How Does Product Management And Portfolio Management Work Together?

At this point, you may wonder, “How does the discipline of product management fit into everything we’ve been talking about?”

Furthermore, you may wonder, “How does portfolio management relate to product resource planning and allocation?”

Product management focuses on solving problems and sparking innovation at the customer level. In parallel with these efforts, portfolio management takes a broader view to ensure strategic alignment and resource allocation needs are met to maximize portfolio outcomes.

Traditional product management skills include analyzing customer needs, discovering product opportunities, guiding product design, and managing feature roadmaps. 

Portfolio management skills include strategic planning, allocation with trade-off analysis, forecasting, scenario planning, and making real-time adjustments. 

“Portfolio management skills or a portfolio mindset is a key element for every strategic product manager.”

Wyatt Jenkins, Chief Product Officer at Procore (watch the full webinar on YouTube

Every day, product managers find themselves managing complexity and delivering the best product outcomes given a multitude of constraints. This is exactly why product managers already have the skills to apply a portfolio approach to their work. 

How Does Responsive Product Portfolio Management Benefit Product Leaders?

After managing more than 10 million hours of portfolio roadmaps from PayPal, Shutterfly, Bigcommerce, and other fast-growing startups and interviewing product and technology executives from leading innovative companies such as Netflix, Amazon, and Shopify, Becky Flint (CEO of Dragonboat) designed “Responsive Product Portfolio Management” to help companies of any size deliver outcomes.

Responsive PPM replaces fixed-scope projects with a portfolio containing outcome-focused initiatives that connect with objectives. These objectives iteratively get built, tested, and validated before the next iteration.

Responsive PPM also creates a bottom-up workflow that empowers teams and CPO leaders to make holistic decisions toward achieving their OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). These decisions should align with the long-term strategy and quarterly milestones.

Product leaders can better adjust and reprioritize using Responsive PPM in response to the changes in:

  • Execution
  • Available resources
  • External factors

As a more holistic evaluation tool, resource teams use Metrics over Available Resources (MoAR) over ROI. Looking beyond dollar-based costs and benefits provides product leaders with measurable values to plan for near-term outcomes.

The entire Responsive PPM process is continuous regardless of organizational level. Executives, leaders, and teams must assess and adjust for the next month, quarter, and year. Responsive PPM is the rallying drumbeat for an organization to move quickly and efficiently.


Is your planning process ready for an upgrade?

Consider using Responsive Product Portfolio Management to guide the way. It will help you:

  • Set multi-dimensional portfolio allocation
  • Take a broader view to evaluate product requests
  • Gain visibility into whether your roadmap is on track, providing the flexibility to make real-time adjustments
  • Use release planning to look at your estimates, resources, and dependencies
  • Connect with Agile tools to predict progress and start taking responsive action
  • Deliver personalized stakeholder reports
  • Use OKRs to close the loop across allocation, ideation, prioritization, planning, execution, and reporting

Now is the time to elevate your resource planning and portfolio allocation framework. Don’t wait. Start building product roadmaps that accelerate portfolio outcomes.

PS: CPOs from Shopify, Pendo, Procore, and more share their insights during The CPO Series.

CPO Series Banner

What is Outcome-Driven Product Management, Exactly?

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

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

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

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

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

Outputs vs. Outcomes

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

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

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

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

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

Marty Cagan

What Sets Outcome-Driven Product Teams Apart?

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

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

1. Work to Achieve Three Types of Outcomes

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

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

2. Tie Product Strategies to Company Goals

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

3. Allocate Resources to Goals

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits of Outcome-Driven Product Management

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

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

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

Chief Product Officer (CPO)

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

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

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

Product Operations

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

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

Product Managers

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

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

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

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

Good Product Ops, Bad Product Ops

Product operations (product ops) is a key function of a product organization; and a good product organization is essential to the success of any company. But the Product Ops role seems fuzzy, how do you evaluate good product ops vs bad product ops? In this post, we’ll cover the 6 key factors that differentiate good product ops from bad product ops.

  1. Customer – Who is the customer for product ops?
  2. Focus – Where should a product ops focus?
  3. Approach How should a product ops approach their role?
  4. Process – What and how processes are managed?
  5. Tooling – What tool stack should be adopted?
  6. Growth – How should a product ops team grow?

Before we start, let’s take a look at how important it is to have good product ops vs an ok product ops. For some people, Ops roles are usually considered a peripheral role. But this view is very dangerous.

Product Ops orchestrates the entire product organization connecting top, down, and across teams and functions. This makes them one of the most leveraged roles in a company.

When product ops make even a small change, it can lead to a big impact. 

So, how can you be sure that what you focus on and the changes you make create the greatest impact? What should you do in order to be successful and get promoted in your role as a product ops manager? Let’s dive into these 6 key characteristics of good product ops and what you can do to accelerate your growth – both personally and professionally.

1. Good Product Ops Serve The Entire Product Organization as Customers, Bad Product Ops Serve Only Their Immediate Teams

A commonly held belief is that product ops work to serve product managers. While this is true, it’s only half the story. A great product ops manager understands that her customer is not only the company’s product managers.

“A great product ops manager will view the entire product organization and their customers (stakeholders) as the customer they are serving.”

– Becky Flint, CEO and Founder of Dragonboat

A good product ops makes the entire product organization successful. A bad product ops pleases the product managers they are grouped with.
Serving more than just one customer is an important approach for any ops role to take, not only product ops. For example, if we consider the role of sales ops, they work to serve the entire sales org, driving revenue and accelerating growth for the whole company.

2. Good Product Ops Focus On Enabling Business Outcomes, Bad Product Ops Only Facilitate Data Collection

New product ops managers often fall into the trap of focusing too much on facilitating customer insights. They may tackle this initially since it’s relatively low-risk and simple to understand and get buy-in. 

However, focusing only on facilitating data collection, triaging customer feedbacks leads them to bad product ops practice, potentially missing the big picture with an overly-simplified believe what’s needed to succeed in product.

A product organization is multi-faceted and many factors drive success. The most successful product ops pros orchestrate how decisions are made, how data is gathered, and help determine how to adapt to the evolving needs of the customer, stakeholders, and the business. 

This means Good product ops focus on enabling customer outcomes and achieving business results for the product organization. 

Good product ops also triage the needs of the current and future market, drive near-term and long-term results, and balance these needs as the product org and company evolve as they navigate through the world they’re operating in.

3. Good Product Ops Connects Strategy and Operations, Bad Product Ops Behave like On Demand Helpers   

Don’t be fooled – product operations has ops in the title, but it’s a highly strategic role. A successful product ops manager takes the opportunity to initiate critical strategic discussions and facilitate alignment between product teams and their stakeholders. 

They also design and orchestrate the product and portfolio rhythm from annual/ semi-annual strategic planning, to quarterly alignment, and bi-weekly or weekly ops reviews and stakeholder engagement. Additionally, they ensure alignment on goals, access to data, prioritize holistically, and adjust all aspects of running a product organization.

“Product Operations — the art of removing obstacles from evidence-based decision making. Done right, it fuels a virtuous cycle of benefits that’ll empower everyone from the executive team all the way to each individual contributor responsible for building the products — whether Engineers, Designers or Product Managers.” 

– Melissa Perri, CEO of ProduxLabs

4. Good Product Ops Manage Process as a Product, Bad Product Ops Enforce Processes No Matter What

Some call product ops the “process people,” instead of viewing them as creators. But process is not a bad thing when done right. A Process is a product that orchestrates all the moving parts related to this process to function in a cohesive way. This is why “Processor” is a core part of every computer. 

Each “Process Product” is built to solve a problem and this process product needs to be managed and updated continuously along with the rest of the organization. If someone build out a large, set-in-stone, and inflexible process and they forget about the “why” behind it in the first place. What are the “jobs to be done” for that process?

To avoid this misstep, manage and iterate the “product” of process. Adapt it continuously for ever-changing needs rather than blindly following a set process. Thinking in design systems, product ops should work as an API between teams and functions, rather than being hardcoded or like a bandaid solution.

5. Good Product Ops Promote Integrated Tooling For Team and Portfolio Needs, Bad Product Ops Tolerate Siloed Tool Choices

A common challenge for product ops is to reconcile the different tools and spreadsheets used across different product teams. In response, some product ops managers will allow tooling to be decentralized so that each person/team can do what they want, where they want. This takes the form of stitching things together, creating time-intensive slide decks in PowerPoint, massive spreadsheets, and even data warehouses. 

However, it is more beneficial to implement end-to-end tooling to create a central source of truth for portfolio decisions, visibility and outcomes. This is when a responsive product portfolio management tool is needed. Successful product ops find the right tool that will allow them to focus on the strategic side of the role and operating the strategy. 

“We needed to have a single source of truth for idea management, a way to enable smarter outcome-based decisions, visibility for senior leadership into investments being made, and general visibility with the roadmap, because there was a lot of feeling like things would go into a “black box”, and no one would know what was coming out the other side and when.”

– Jackie Orlando, Dir of Product Ops at Tealium, on creating a single source of truth a Responsive PPM tool

Learn more about how Jackie Orlando built and scaled product operations at Tealium

6. Good Product Ops Are Force-Multiplier, Bad Product Ops Keep Doing the Same Without Scaling

Perhaps you’ve reached the point when you’ve already figured out a strategy to make your customers successful and it’s working! So, you start wondering, where to go from here? 

A common misconception about product ops is that the function grows linearly based on the number of PMs a company has. For every 10 PMs, you need 1 product ops. However, this isn’t the optimal way for product ops to grow.

As mentioned before, product ops is a highly leveraged role. A good product ops professional manages themself out of the job so they become a force multiplier. Product ops’ growth should be multiplied and evolve based on how well you serve the customer. 

“I like to think of this Force Multiplier Model as having a Product Ops function at the same level as Product Management and Product Design. Product Ops is there to serve as a force multiplier to product managers, product designers and for certain activities, the product marketing managers.”

– Marty Cagan on the Force Multiplier Model of Product Ops

Become a Strategic, Outcome-Focused Product Ops Leader

Like any role, there is always a spectrum of good and bad with practices that go hand in hand with each. Contrary to the title, product ops can’t just be focused on ops. For good product ops, the goal is to think about your position as a strategic role where your mission is to lead and orchestrate the product org to achieve the best outcomes.

Here are some of the biggest do’s and don’ts that product ops managers should know:

product ops manager tips

If you’re just starting out as a product operations manager, keep in mind that your job is not just about improving efficiency, your ultimate objective is to accelerate product portfolio outcomes, just like a sales ops manager’s purpose is to ultimately accelerate revenue growth.

You can rejoice in knowing that the whole company is your customer – you can have a huge impact. As the chief enabler of your product organization, you help the company to balance the right outcomes at the right time – short vs long term customer and business needs.

So, to answer the question, “How can I get promoted as a product ops manager?” Follow these six tips and you’ll be in a much better position to be promoted, for example, to be the Director of Product Ops. Then you should be able to expand the team to increase product ops’ value exponentially!

Dragonboat – The Responsive PPM Platform for SAFe Lean Enterprise

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a way for enterprise companies to implement agile delivery at scale. SAFe promotes alignment, collaboration, and delivery across large numbers of agile teams and includes structured guidance on roles and responsibilities, and how to plan work. SAFe for Lean Enterprise “integrates the power of Lean, Agile, and DevOps into a comprehensive operating system” that helps organizations achieve business agility.  

Companies that practice SAFe typically lead a portfolio, or portfolio of portfolios, and need a responsive Product Portfolio Management platform for SAFe lean enterprise to manage the integrated workflows.  

Dragonboat is the Responsive PPM Platform for SAFe Lean Enterprise 

Here’s how Dragonboat’s Responsive PPM (RPPM) platform supports and enables the key elements of the SAFe Lean Enterprise framework:

  • Continuous learning – Dragonboat’s Idea module allows you to continuously collect, organize, and prioritize feedback, insights and requests from various stakeholders including customers and internal teams and provide input to formulate product and portfolio backlog and planning. 
  • Outcome based product portfolio management (PPM) – Rather than focusing on delivering features, product organizations can plan and prioritize product portfolio roadmaps in Dragonboat which enables teams to focus on business outcomes, customer outcomes, and portfolio outcomes.
  • Organizational agility – Dragonboat enables organizational agility via top down alignment of goals and strategies with our dynamic portfolio hierarchy, bottoms up ideation, prioritization and innovation, and cross team collaboration. 
SAFe for lean enterprise framework

SAFe Program Increments (PI) Planning with a Responsive PPM Platform

PI planning (or big room planning), synonymous with sprint planning in the scrum practice, is one of the most recognized elements of SAFe. In PI Planning, various product teams gather to map value streams, identify dependencies, and synchronize PIs.

Dragonboat’s 3D Roadmapping can be used for value stream and big room planning. Teams can prioritize within their own stream, align on goals, and visualize dependencies to plan cross-functionally.

SAFe PI Planning with Responsive PPM
Source: Dragonboat app

Agile Product Delivery via Jira, Azure DevOps or Other Agile tools 

After PI planning, teams can push plans to engineering tools for agile product delivery.

Dragonboat’s PPM Platform is seamlessly integrated with agile tools including Jira, Azure Dev Ops, and Shortcut to connect strategy with execution, while automatically rolling up progress, and using smart forecasting to provide visibility while eliminating manual tracking.

Measure and learn by connecting outcomes to goals and adjusting allocation and prioritization to best achieve portfolio outcomes. 

Connecting Strategy with Agile Execution

Dragonboat is a complete product portfolio solution that enables top down, bottoms up and cross team collaboration, along with iterative resource planning. The workflow starts with aligning and allocating strategic goals/ OKRs/ themes, with idea capture and prioritization, then enabling collaborative planning between product and engineering teams, as well as across product teams to best design a portfolio roadmap. Then, integrating with agile tools for team execution.

The PPM tool stack of Dragonboat + Jira/ ADO/ Shortcut, is perfect for portfolio planning and alignment connected to Agile execution. This forms a complete double-diamond workflow connecting strategy with execution.

Continuously Learn >> Build >> Measure

Product teams use Dragonboat’s Idea module to collect and organize feedback, requests, and insights from customers and cross-functional teams. These ideas are a key part of product discovery for teams to learn about customers and build the right products.

Product teams also use Dragonboat to align product goals with strategies and measure actual outcomes to influence future portfolio iteration and allocation.

Dragonboat’s Responsive PPM Supports a Variety of Product Management and Delivery Frameworks

In addition to SAFe, Dragonboat supports a variety of Agile practices, including fuzzy planning (e.g. this month, this quarter, next quarter), lean roadmapping (Now, Next, Later), duo-track agile (discovery + delivery), strategic planning on-demand, and quarterly planning. Product and program managers can easily pick up and integrate Dragonboat into their current product management and delivery processes.

When it comes to implementation, Dragonboat enables agile rollout (aka MVPC – minimum viable process change). It takes only a few minutes to get started and requires no changes to existing team practices.

Teams may continue to work within their existing workflows which might include standard scrum and sprints, scrumban, kanban, classic + next gen Jira, or even traditional/ waterfall. 

Dragonboat supports the portfolio of portfolios – which means each organization may start with one instance or multiple and easily scale their Responsive Product Portfolio Practice across more teams as needed.

Responsive PPM CTA

Women in Tech Podcast: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Dragonboat

Building products has never been simple. Our founder and CEO, Becky Flint, experienced the challenge first hand while building the product portfolio management function for fast-growing companies like PayPal, Shutterfly, and Bigcommerce. She tried dozens of PM tools but found that none supported the needs of an outcome-focused product organization. 

So, instead of patching different tools together, she made her own prototype that solved this problem. Now, 20 years in the making and several iterations later, is a reality and our team is growing!

Becky recently sat down with Espree Devora on the Women in Tech Show to talk about her founder’s journey. She tackled questions like:

  • When should you start your own company?
  • What are the biggest challenges of entrepreneurship? 
  • How did you overcome these challenges while starting Dragonboat?
  • What is your advice for women looking to build their careers in tech?

You can listen to the podcast episode here:

The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity. 

Espree Devora: Welcome back to The Women in Tech Podcast, celebrating women in tech around the world. So excited for our next guest, Becky, coming at us from the Bay Area in California. Hello, Becky.

Becky Flint: Hi, Espree. So exciting to talk to you today.

Espree Devora: I know, I’m stoked to have you here. To kick things off, go ahead and tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Becky Flint: Yes. So, my name is Becky Flint. Today, I am the founder and CEO of For those of you who are not familiar with the Dragonboat, it is a purpose-built platform for all outcome-driven product organizations. Dragonboat is new, but for me, it has been 20 years in the making, so we can go deeper-

Espree Devora: What? 20 years in the making. Wait, no, let’s stop, let’s jump into that now. How is it 20 years in the making? Tell us.

Becky Flint: So, it’s very interesting, I never thought about starting a company to build something like Dragonboat. When I joined PayPal it was fairly small, most of the product managers, almost all product managers can fit it into one conference room. You can imagine how small we were. I was brought in to help lead a global expansion. As you can imagine, expanding PayPal to other countries takes a lot of work. There were a lot of challenges and really the rise of something today we call product operations

Long story short, as PayPal was growing very rapidly, we’ve gone through a lot of growing pains, a lot of challenges. I had to build lots of internal tools and spreadsheets and I couldn’t make it work. Then, finally, I learned a process called product portfolio management. And that essentially led to the tooling that became the predecessor of Dragonboat.

Later, I went to a few amazing companies and joined them and they were pre-unicorns or small unicorns like Shutterfly, Bigcommerce, and Feedzai. Then eventually they went through the journey and it become a unicorn then a public company. 

As a part of the process, the need for Dragonboat was all over the place. I looked at all the tools and found all the things I could find in order to patch everything that we needed together to scale product rapidly while maximizing outcomes. And what I found was there was no boat, there were only pieces! 

Later I became a consultant, and I was recruited from company to company, where I brought along this “boat” which, was still, at the time, a suite of spreadsheets. Finally, I thought, “Hey, if I had to scale something like that, maybe this is the tool, it’s the product I have to build.” 20 years later, there you go, meet Dragonboat.

Espree Devora: That’s crazy. And while you’ve been building, what would you say is the biggest obstacle you successfully overcome in building your company?

Becky Flint: I think startups are facing three key turning points or challenges. 

One is, do we have a problem? If there wasn’t a problem, obviously there would never be a company. So I think the problems were really well understood. 

And then the second part of that is, do we have a product to solve it? 

Then the third part is how can we iterate and improve on it? 

I would say the third part is the lucky part of my journey. I was able to start to test out and try out a product fairly early thanks to people I met in my career and through my network of the people I worked with. 

Regardless of how great intuition is, as an entrepreneur, you still have to hit the road and get people to use your product. It was really helpful to be able to get the product to some of our early customers along the way.

Becky Flint

Espree Devora: One of the things that are really important to you that you shared with me before the interview is building a strong team. Tell me a little bit about your perspective on strong team building.

Becky Flint: It’s a little bit complicated, so let me go take one step back. Meaning that when we think about a team, quite often we think about the people we work together with. So a lot of times they say, hey, I’m in marketing, I have a marketing team, I’m working with my team together. If you are in product, you are working with an engineering team, you have a scrum team, you work with them together. So that is obviously really, really important to have a strong team in that sense. You work with them day in and day out.

Then beyond your team or pod, you have a team that’s not yours. It’s important to be able to work with an extended team to be successful. 

So, in the earlier days working at PayPal and later on in other companies I worked that, as well as eventually getting to Dragonboat, we recognized this. I had a small team when I got started, but I needed more talent and skills, and resources from other areas in order to succeed.

How do I build an extended team and extended network? So how do I find advisors? How do I find partners? How do I find some of the consultants and contractors, they’re all my extended team. And I get to partner with them and leverage a small part of their time. 

Building a strong core team plus an extended team that can help you fill in the gaps of the business’ needs is super important for your startup’s growth.

Becky Flint

Espree Devora: When did you first become interested in technology? Working with a Goliath like PayPal, which became your future. When did that journey start? Were you a little girl or at what point did it start for you?

Becky Flint: Yeah, it’s interesting. I didn’t really fully utilize my education so to speak. I fell into technology. I actually came to the U.S. when I was fully grown from China and I came here for business. I went to Business School in San Francisco in 1997. So for some of you, if you are older, you’ll remember that was a time that web went all out. 

I was in business school and I took a finance major concentration. Next thing you know, the dotcom boom was happening, there’s a lot of startups, all my students and everyone’s just working at different tech companies. 

And then I thought, “Hey, I better go find some real work experience.” The next thing was so exciting. I was working with customers, designed products, and learned to code. And all of sudden I became a tech person. I was like, forget about having an MBA, forget about finance, this is so much more fun. That’s how I started to get into tech and then even started another, like a little startup company trying to do a B2B exchange for a computer manufacturing product.

Then it was all fun, exciting. And guess what? Next thing you know dotcom burst. So then I had to go back to the “real world.” Then I started to work, this is the time where my MBA in finance started to rescue me. I was able to find roles in some of the financial companies. I was in Wells Fargo for a while and then at Schwab for a while. Next thing you know, I heard about PayPal. I was like, “Oh cool. This is tech and it’s also finance.”

Espree Devora: Wow. That’s so lucky. Wait, keep going. I’m just blown away that, because you had that combination of background, PayPal made sense but at the time it was just yet another name on a list, it wasn’t PayPal at the time.

Becky Flint: No, no. It was a small company. It wasn’t really that big of a name so I left really nice job at Wells Fargo to go to PayPal. In some ways also very lucky because I live in the South Bay and Wells Fargo’s in San Francisco, and PayPal’s in South Bay. I said, “Hey, it is a tech company. It does FinTech” I realized finance is great, but it’s just too stable and not a lot of changes, and tech’s much more fun. So yeah, that’s what happened.

I was very, very lucky. And the PayPal team was like, “Well, you don’t really have a lot of experience and maybe you should come in as a junior project manager.” I was like, “I just like this company.” I didn’t care about my job title. I could take a higher-level role but I like the company. I thought it was really cool. So I joined the company, it was just a good time. 

Espree Devora: Because life is an adventure. And we should always just be partaking in the adventure and not so caught up in metrics like finance, vanity or whatever it may be and make sure we’re truly enjoying the process of life.

Becky Flint: Right. Exactly. If I had joined PayPal 10 years later, I would never have had an opportunity to build a portfolio management process across the whole company. That just does not happen to someone at the level like not VP, right? It requires many levels of influence across the organization. 

Then that was also another interesting story because speaking of raising your hand and solving problems, I was leading the international expansion, taking PayPal from country to country. It’s amazing. Think about it. Launching PayPal in Australia, launching PayPal in Portugal.

Espree Devora: I can’t even imagine like five, you said five product managers in a room when you started. Was that right?

Becky Flint: All the product managers fit in one room. 

Espree Devora: I mean, that’s just nuts. How big was the staff count when you started versus what is it around today?

Becky Flint: I can’t remember how big it is today, but when we started, I think maybe a couple hundred engineers.

They had a lot of business and marketing and customer support. But you think about the core product development, product managers and engineers. It was really small. 

Espree Devora: It’s crazy. Such a cool life experience. One thing that I’m really glad that you brought up was your MBA. Because one of the questions I wanted to ask in this really interesting career journey you’ve had is how much has going to school, not just MBA but your university and the MBA helped accelerate you as a tech professional?

Becky Flint: I think it has tremendous importance for me, in terms of in the tech industry, because I didn’t come from the US. So that’s like, if I hadn’t come here for MBA, I wouldn’t even be here, I would be in different countries. So that itself definitely is pivotal in terms of my journey. 

And the second part is when I went from MBA to tech, it gave me a different perspective than the people purely in tech. Because I’m more than just writing code. I didn’t know how to write code, but I can translate the concept, the business, how users could use it, how that makes sense to the user and translate it into code.

Then I learned to code. I think having a sense of the business concept, the P&Ls, the positioning, the messaging, all that stuff is tremendously helpful especially today. Everyone needs customer empathy. 

Espree Devora: The most annoying thing to me about the pandemic, how was it every single company was like, “Oh, now we have to care about our customers.” I’m like, What do you mean? As though this is a new novel idea, you should have been doing this before any pandemic. Why is this now the marketing angle to care about your customers? It’s… Yes, customer empathy to the max.

Becky Flint: I think yeah, in some ways that’s really more of the level of competition. In some ways, the pandemic really accelerates a lot of things into being digital. This also means information is a lot more available and accessible to everyone. That means the competition is much, much stronger in every aspect. And I think a lot about how this impacts the global hiring market.

I’m in the Bay Area, working with all the Silicon Valley companies and stuff. 

There used to be an advantage to living in the Bay Area in terms of starting a company, having a network, etc. Today, that is dissipating very quickly. You can talk to anyone on Zoom, access people and capital; everything is more readily available to everyone. 

Becky Flint

Espree Devora: Let’s circle back to Dragonboat, and then I want to get more into the lifestyle of your company and of your profession, but Dragonboat specifically for everyone listening, who are the customers for Dragonboat? Who should be like, “Oh my gosh, I’m so glad we know that Dragonboat exist?”

Becky Flint: Dragonboat is a platform for the product organization. When I say product organization, it’s not just for product managers. 

Just like sales is not just one person who goes to sell something, there’s always teamwork. So, Dragonboat is the core for supporting a product team. But the product team works with engineering, the product team working with design, marketing and sales, all that. The product teams also work with each other.

In the past, when people tend to think about product teams, like I’m a product manager working with engineering. I can launch and iterate and then just magically, things happen. The reality is today, as soon as you hit a product to market and have customers, you realize you have to work with a lot of people. Dragonboat’s a platform where the product team would be the driver or the hub, but that also helps everyone else interact with the product team.

The feedback, requests coming into the product team, so you have some understanding of what customers want, tied to business goals and outcomes and metrics you have tied. That will help the product team together with the input of the customer, create your product ideas, roadmaps and so on. 

And product teams also have to work with each other so that we don’t have our islands. And because a product is actually built across multiple teams and finally it can be delivered through engineering. Once we put it on to the market, the go to market team has to know what we are building, what we’re shipping, what things are. So, that is the core of it… You can almost think about it, it’s a boat where the part of the organization that is product-related runs, but where everyone also is part of it as well.

Espree Devora: What’s the impact? What’s the solution? Every company is created in order to create the solution. So, now we have product managers signing up for Dragonboat, and then what is the solution in their life?

Becky Flint: One is that product managers need to make the right decisions. It takes a lot of effort, not only in product things and also in being able to communicate and plan and track. So at Dragonboat, the number one thing is to make a lot of busy work go away, so we automate a lot of activities that need to happen for product managers. The second part of that it’s enabling faster and more accurate information to everyone else involved in building product. Meaning, customer success will know what’s going on and the marketing team will know what’s going on. What we plan on the roadmap, being able to put feedback into the system so that we can actually make decisions better.

Dragonboat enables the collaboration of the product team with each other, with the cross-functional teams, and then with stakeholders in a way to best deliver product. 

Becky Flint

Speaking of customer empathy, Dragonboat also allows you to have more stakeholder and internal team empathy as well. So they can deliver the product that drives value and does not increase overhead on everyone.

Espree Devora: There’s so many people listening right now who have thought about taking the leap like you have, working for a company and then creating your own company and being a founder. What drives you to continue to be a founder rather than work for someone else’s company? 

Becky Flint: Right. I think it’s very funny that if you are sitting there saying, “Hey, I want to start a company.” Then I think that’s just not the right time, because you didn’t have a burning problem you have to solve. 

So I started a company two times in my career, in both cases there were burning questions. Let’s use this one as an example. I wasn’t going to start Dragonboat. I really enjoyed seeing a company grow and helping the product team. I loved being able to create products, being able to drive value and sometimes turn around the companies that were struggling to scale. 

Then I decided to start Dragonboat because one, I realized I’m solving the same problem from company to company. And there had to be a better way.

And two is, there were no other options. If I can find other solutions that can solve the problem, even if I’m passionate about the problem, I would go for them. But at the time, nothing stood out. Looking back on my career, I say, “Hey, if I never chose to work for a company and didn’t happen to fall into an amazing company like PayPal,  I wouldn’t be where I am today.” So, had I chosen to start a company at that time, my career would be different. 

If you can learn a lot and meet great people when working for someone else, go for it! You don’t have to say, “I need to start at a company,” for the sake of it. But if you say, “I have this problem, I’ve been trying out various solutions but I haven’t been able to solve it yet. It’s just so painful.” Then, I think it’s time to start a company.

Becky Flint

Everyone says, okay, starting a company is not easy, it is hard. It is so true because, as a founder, maybe 5 or 10% of the time I spend is truly doing the things that I wanted to do. Versus when you work in a company, if you’re in a good role, you spend 60, 70, or even up to 80% of the time on things you want to do and you’re good at you enjoy doing. 

Starting your own company as a founder, you have ambitious goals and you have to do everything, which often means the opposite of what you actually enjoy. 

You do all these other things. It’s not always the most productive, but you have to do it. I think I’m very lucky to have had a lot of support along the way, but it’s very, very hard for sure.

Espree Devora: And in the early days, how did you sustain it? Did you raise money, was it self-funded, was it profitable right away? What was your journey in igniting it and then fostering a team and making sure you’re not losing your mind?

Becky Flint: It is a combination of all of them. So, I self-funded partially from my own savings. And I was also very lucky when I left my last role, I was working with the co-founders and CEO, CTO and then they saw how a properly run product org can change the company. So they invested in me and our company early on, so I’m very, very grateful to them for taking the risk in such an early stage when you didn’t really have a product. Then also I did a lot of consulting which helped with the cash flow.

I didn’t pay myself for two years, that also helped. I used a combination of contractors and consultants. Then we started as a remote native company, we never had an office and I had teams globally in the beginning. So that helps us with the cost, with a lot of access to talent. 

Today, everyone can start a company, covid already made remote work the de facto. But back in the days, it was a competitive advantage. So knowing how to find people to work with and knowing how to work with the people remotely is key.

Espree Devora: 100%.

Becky Flint: I mean, it cut our costs by at least half.

Espree Devora: 100%. My first business partner is one of the co-founders of Box, the file sharing company. When we were building, there was no WordPress. There was no easy way to code. I was very lucky that he knew it all and then he would tell me, I remember it was so cool. 

He would tell me what coding languages, I should be on the lookout for. So I would go to meetup groups with all these developers and I’m not a developer. And they were like, “What are you doing here?” I’m like, “I have to know. I have to know how all these things work in the benefits.” And I was just super curious. 

I’m glad you brought up your savings and then also your past work, help fuel your company. The reason I say that is when I raised money for my company, my investors said, one of the reasons they trusted funding me is because I invested in myself and that showed them how committed I was.

Then a second note is I just met with a company in the past week. They were profitable within I think, two or three months. I’m like, “Wow, that’s so unusual. How’d you do that?” He’s like “The company that I was working for became my first customer.” There’s no one way to build a company, and every single part of your journey and choice that you make could be something extremely beneficial that you would’ve never thought of. It’s so cool.

You really care about women succeeding and you have some amazing advice to give them as they build their careers in tech and possibly become founders or grow the companies they have now. What would some of that guidance be?

Becky Flint: Well, first of all, don’t think of yourself as a woman. First, you think of yourself as a human being. You can do the things you can do, put your agenda on the side. I think that would really help a lot. 

Yes, as a society, we need to help and then we need to provide more opportunities for women. But my mom is a mechanical engineer. And when she went to school, she was one of the 300 people in her class, the only woman. She never thought of herself as a woman versus all the men. She was just like, “Hey, I’m here. I’m a student of engineering and I’m going to be an engineer. There’s no question about my gender.”

I think it was super helpful for me to think about myself as an individual and I can do amazing things and I can put in my effort. I think the first thing is to help each other out. But I really just want to think about us as individuals who can contribute value and not think too much about that. 

Espree Devora: I got into tech through my dad. And he would take me to business conferences and all this stuff. I never noticed I was the only female. I just was a person interested in tech around a lot of other people interested in tech. And I do think the more we self-classify, we may end up putting limitations on ourselves that we don’t need to put there.

Becky Flint: The second part I will say is thinking about it either both life and a career is a journey. There’s no direct line from A to B that you have to take what is coming at you that seems like a good opportunity, learning and growing. 

A prime example was going from an MBA in school and then going to tech startups, because I think there was a lot of activity going on. A lot of things are new, look so exciting. It looks like the future. But the same thing for PayPal, when I went to PayPal, I took two steps down.

To grow in your career, do things that add value, even if it’s not in your job description. Have an eye for seeing problems and then try to solve them.

Becky Flint

But remember, you collaborate with the people who are the “owners.” You don’t just go ahead do it. That’s not good. 

And then always bring good people along with you. When I had a mentor, I saw her not only think about the things in her area, but also think about how her area could expand to help a broader audience and the broader organization. And that’s where she mentored me to give me visibility and perspective on thinking that way. I think that bringing people along, it’s so helpful. The key thing is when you bring people along, you bring the network, you have a different perspective and ultimately everyone wins. So the tide is rising high.

Espree Devora: I love that guidance. One thing that I was also thinking about this week as a leader is when I respond to something, am I reacting or am I responding with confidence from my boundaries? I notice whenever I feel that someone is doing something negative to me or something like that, I stop and I’m like, okay, people could only take as much as you allow them to take.

And I have power over who I say yes to who I say no to, or how I negotiate. And so, how can I show up in a more powerful way that isn’t an attack on either part. Like no one’s attacking me and I’m not attacking anyone else, I’m simply sharing my boundaries. 

The reason why I bring that up is I think the more I surround myself with empowering people and focus on being an empowering person, the more clarifying energy I have to really embrace my boundaries from a positive uplifting spirited place, not like this like dark scarcity based place. 

Does that make sense?

Becky Flint: Yeah. I think that we humans have the rational part of us and also the emotional part. And quite often we’re naturally having an initial emotional response and the rational part of ourselves, will say, “Hey, you know how we want to handle this in a way that’s calm and cool.” It is the right thing to do, but then also over time, takes a lot of energy because you have to do it twice.

So, by choosing unconsciously, surrounding the people and others on the way that they are seeing and act in a way like more calm and then more, I want to you is the word outcome. But it’s really positive outcome focus versus complaining, blaming, negative energy.

Espree Devora: Yes, that.

Becky Flint: Then also you don’t have to do things twice. You just do it once and naturally say, hey, we have a problem, how do we solve it? It’s much better say, why is this happening? That’s like a same problem, different attitude. But if you always hand up with the people say like blaming or whatnot, you’re just very draining

Espree Devora: You said it so much better than I did, that. Last few questions, quick-fire questions.

Becky Flint: Okay.

Espree Devora: What is your favorite book? I’m making you choose?

Becky Flint: Not favorite, but a recent book I liked is EMPOWERED by Marty Cagan.

Espree Devora: And this is a selfish question because I’m such a nerd, your favorite mobile app or software website aside from Dragonboat.

Becky Flint: Calendar.

Espree Devora: Oh yeah. Which calendar do you use?

Becky Flint: Just Google Calendar because our team all use that. 

Calendar isn’t screaming for your attention. All the other apps want your eyeballs all the time. Calendar is there when you need it, running in the background.  I really like that. We all know we could not live without our calendar. 

So, sometimes I think hey, Dragonboat is like that. It’s something running in the background, it enables you, but doesn’t require your eyeballs on it all the time.

Espree Devora: It’s such a good point. We have so many listeners. If there’s one thing that we could do to support and accelerate your success, what would that ask be? And it can’t save the world because so many of my guests always say something that’s to serve other people. So it has to be to serve yourself.

Becky Flint: Well, if I was to serve myself, it would be something say, hey, if you want to grow your career and truly make an impact on other people’s lives, you should check out Dragonboat. 

Because we exist, not as a tool to try to take everyone’s time and energy away, we exist to help, to give time and energy back to others. 

We have lots of opportunities to grow.  To anyone who has a desire to make an impact, I really welcome and encourage you to apply. We need designers, product managers, engineers, marketers, customer, success, sales talent, and more.

Espree Devora: Awesome. Thank you so much for hanging out with the Women in Tech Podcast!

What is Product Portfolio Management?

We’ve observed a puzzling paradox—great product managers exist at market-leading and market-losing companies. So what does it take to build a high-performing product organization that propels companies to wild success? The answer is Product Portfolio Management (PPM).

In this post, we’ll look at the definition of product portfolio management, its evolution, its relationship with product management, and the key elements.

What is Product Portfolio Management?

Product Portfolio Management is the practice of aligning an organization’s product portfolio with its business strategies to achieve profitability. It involves evaluating product performance, identifying risks and opportunities, prioritizing high-value products, and optimizing resources. That lets you make informed tradeoff decisions and balance the product mix among strategic buckets.

Product portfolio management borrows principles of portfolio management from the finance world: 

“Portfolio management is the art and science of selecting and overseeing a group of investments that meet the long-term financial objectives and risk tolerance of a client, a company, or an institution.”

Besides making the best investment decisions, winning portfolio management includes:

  • Allocation to various categories of investments to maximize portfolio yield. 
  • Periodic allocation adjustments based on the goals, performance, and markets.

A successful product organization operates the same. It uses a portfolio approach to evaluate product categories and allocate resources to maximize business outcomes. In addition, it is responsive and adaptive to fast-changing market trends and business needs. 

Next, let’s look at the history of portfolio management to understand how we arrived at the newest evolution—Responsive Product Portfolio Management (PPM). 

The Journey to Responsive Product Portfolio Management

Traditionally, product organizations ran Portfolio Management, which considers each product line an investment option. For example, the Proctor and Gamble baby care portfolio comprises shampoos, powders, and diapers. 

When IT came along, the product line became intangible. But, the need remained to allocate resources (e.g., engineers) to best support customers. That led to Project Portfolio Management, defined as:

“The centralized management of one or more portfolios, and involves identifying, prioritizing, authorizing, managing, and controlling projects, programs, and other related work, to achieve specific strategic business objectives.”
Project Management Institute (PMI)

Project Portfolio Management fits well in a waterfall-type environment. However, this approach became a struggle as digital products grew more complex. Digital products, like Google Search, often appear as a single product from the customer’s perspective. But the product organization for Google Search has many product teams with their own underlying “product areas.” It is a “one-product portfolio.”

In this structure, product portfolio managers face many questions. How do you define categories for product investments when there are no easily separable product lines? How do you evaluate and decide which part of Google Search to focus on? Where should you increase or reduce investment? 

With the adoption of agile product development, Project Portfolio Management, with its pre-defined, fixed-scoped projects, no longer worked. 

In agile, engineering teams work collaboratively with product managers to design better ways to solve customer problems. However, if product managers start working with engineers on all ideas, all the time, across teams, it can become very chaotic and confusing. 

These were the “new” challenges we faced 15 years ago at PayPal during its Agile transformation. So we created a new product portfolio management practice to support multidimensional digital products in an agile world.

This practice is called Responsive Product Portfolio Management (Responsive PPM).  

Traditional Portfolio Management vs. Project Portfolio Management vs. Responsive Product Portfolio Management

Chart showing the iterations of product portfolio management.
The three iterations of PPM

How is Product Portfolio Management Different Than Product Management?

Now, you may wonder, “How does portfolio management interact with product management, and how do the two differ?”

Product management sparks innovation and problem-solving at the level of the customer’s need. In contrast, portfolio management ensures strategic alignment and resource allocation to maximize portfolio outcomes. 

Core product management skills include analyzing customer needs, product discovery, design, planning, iterating, and releasing new product features. Portfolio management skills include strategic planning, forecasting, resource allocation, trade-off analysis, scenario planning, and adjustment.

Chart showing the difference between product management and product portfolio management.

Can Small Orgs and Individual Product Managers Do Product Portfolio Management?

Can a Product Manager apply a Responsive PPM approach, even if they don’t have control of the company’s entire portfolio of products?


Product portfolio management involves managing complexity and delivering the best product outcomes given constraints. Product Managers find themselves doing this already, every day. 

Every product manager leads a portfolio since their product or product area needs to support several goals, multiple segments, and various themes. The emphasis is not on managing the size of your portfolio but on managing your choices.

Watch the Webinar Recording: Replace Your Roadmap with a Responsive Portfolio to Drive Outcomes

Key Elements of Product Portfolio Management

Now that we’ve covered the different iterations of product portfolio management and how it relates to product management, let’s break it down to see what is involved.

Product Roadmapping

A roadmap is a visualization of the vision, priorities, timelines, and work required to meet your goals. Roadmapping helps you communicate your plans to stakeholders and track progress.

Before building a roadmap, you must collect and organize customer insights. These could be internal ideas or direct feedback from customers. If you’re doing a feature-based roadmap, you would work from this backlog of requests and choose which feature to prioritize for a single outcome. However, with outcome-focused roadmapping, product teams can take a more holistic approach to prioritizing features that will drive the best outcomes while considering all the dimensions of the business, customer, and portfolio. 

Remember, customizing your roadmap based on your audience and showcasing varying details is crucial. Indeed, this is the last step of any great roadmap—sharing it!

Present the data in a way that quickly aligns everyone involved and communicates the plan. For example, C-level executives likely want to know if your roadmap is on track and meeting OKRs. On the other hand, a weekly sync with the product team must highlight the details of each Epic, visualize dependencies, show progress percentages, and display statuses. These are two very different roadmaps, but both are equally important.

Portfolio Management

In addition to the PMs’ focus on their individual roadmaps, product leaders and product ops need to align and manage the entire portfolio—multiple products and their dependencies. To do this successfully, connect your long-term vision with team execution. The most successful product-centric companies do this by starting with corporate-wide business goals and identifying where to invest resources to achieve meaningful results. 

Next, set objectives that span multiple business areas and link them to the corporate strategy. You can even connect objectives and key results (OKRs) to your initiatives and roadmaps. By linking these, you prioritize initiatives for the relevant OKRs based on how much they contribute to each objective. 

During this step, you’ll want to anticipate trade-offs to understand the opportunity cost of prioritization decisions. Roadmaps cover the what and when, but it’s vital also to include the “how” and “what-if” scenarios during resource allocation so you can respond to the inevitable changes driven by the market.

This framework is how outcome-driven organizations operate. It becomes an internal pulse and guides teams to prioritize what to build next while keeping everyone aligned through planning, resourcing, and progress tracking.  

Some organizations also like to analyze existing product portfolios using frameworks like the Boston Consulting Group’s Growth Share Matrix or GE/McKinsey Matrix. The BCG Matrix organizes products based on their relative market share and growth rate into four categories, with “cash cows” being products with low growth but high market share. In contrast, the GE/McKinsey Matrix looks at the competitive strength of the business unit compared to industry attractiveness.

Outcome Delivery

The key to delivering outcomes is to ensure your strategy aligns with the company’s overarching goals. Outcome-driven teams constantly decide where to focus, choosing the features that will provide the most impact and greatest outcome. They prioritize and re-prioritize diligently to keep their work connected to the near-term focus and long-term vision.

Today’s industry-leading organizations allocate resources between multiple dimensions, outcomes, and timeframes. They apply the rock, pebble, and sand technique to best manage their company’s product portfolio. In doing so, they can also move forward with their big, strategic bets and continue to innovate and transform.

The last element to delivering outcomes is continuously evaluating progress toward your goals and responsively adjusting. For example, you should adapt if the team is over-achieving in one goal and underperforming in another. No need to wait for the next “planning cycle” to make a change. That is the beauty of outcome-driven product management—the ability to respond, adjust in real-time and keep every effort focused on your goals. 

The Benefits of a Responsive Product Portfolio Management Approach

Product portfolio management is the product-centric company’s key to combating chaos, misalignment, dependencies, resource bottlenecks, and other growing pains.

While there are a few “flavors” of PPM, we recommend following the Responsive PPM approach:

  • Produce outcome-driven initiatives that are iteratively built, tested, and learned from or validated before the next iteration.
  • Encourage a bottom-up workflow that empowers teams and leaders to make iterative and holistic decisions toward achieving their OKRs.
  • Allow executives to adjust and reprioritize in response to changes in execution, available resources, and external factors.
  • Tie the strategic and execution cycles to the rhythm of “Align, Allocate, and Adjust,” ensuring everyone moves in the right direction and speed. 

Rather than planning only once a year, Responsive PPM is the rallying drumbeat for an entire organization. Responsive PPM lets agile, product-centric organizations maintain agility regardless of size and scale. 

Are you interested in learning more? Then, join the fastest-growing community for product portfolio management and connect with industry colleagues at

nium dragonboat product portfolio management case study

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.

5 best PM course CTA

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

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.