Unlocking Product’s Business Impact with Product Operations

Product Ops HQ Interview with Ashley Fong on Unlocking Product's Business Impact with High-Performing 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.

Ana Andrade

Ana is the Community Growth Manager and Rower at Dragonboat with a mission to empower responsive leaders and their teams to build better products faster.
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