Product management as an idea has existed for many years, but the term itself is still relatively new. To put it simply: a product manager focuses on maximising business value from a product.
Martin Eriksson, product management veteran and founder of ProductTank, describes the job as "the intersection between business function, technology and user experience".
Not only do product managers need to understand user needs, they have to monitor the market, define a vision for a product, coordinate different teams and gather data effectively. It’s safe to say they have their work cut out for them.
With so much to do sometimes it can feel like getting everything completed on time is impossible. Short of using a time travel device to get everything done, using the right tools allows managers to track progress, automate processes and ensure products are completed on time.
So, whether you’re a product manager in need of organizational help, or just want to optimise your workflow, check out the list of the best product management tools we’ve curated below.
Trello is one of the most widely used product and project management tools on the web. It uses the kanban board methodology to help users visualize, assign and organize multiple tasks.
Kanban is often used alongside scrum as a lightweight tracking framework. If you’ve never used a Kanban board, the gist is that you move tasks (or “cards”) to their respective columns to determine progress. For example, you might have columns for ‘in-progress’, ‘pending’ and ‘complete’. From there you can attach files, leave comments, create due dates and even schedule future goals for each task.
Trello excels at keeping team members on track as projects develop and is great for team collaboration. It also offers plenty of customization and templates to get you started. One handy feature is the ability to plot out your product roadmap - the perfect way to give team members an idea of what’s in development.
If you are in the market for powerful project management software, look no further. Developed by Atlassian, Jira is used by both enterprise and small, agile teams for everything from task management and refining backlog to project collaboration and tracking issues. As you would expect, it integrates beautifully with other Atlassian tools like Confluence and Bitbucket.
More so than many entries on this list, Jira is completely customizable. The only limits are your experience with the software, your project’s scope and your imagination.
Jira offers a robust free plan for teams of up to ten users (perfect for startups). If your team is larger, or you need access to premium features like multi-project automation and audit logs, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan.
If Trello is too basic for your needs, but Jira is too intimidating, Wrike is like the last bear's porridge in Goldilocks and the Three Bears - just right.
Wrike is known for its great user-experience (both web and iOS/Android apps), a mix of useful project management and automation features, and excellent customer support.
It’s particularly popular among creative product teams, as it allows you to set rules and automate routine processes when a particular action is triggered. It also has a helpful version control feature that comes in handy when working on dynamic projects.
In terms of pricing, Wrike offers a great free plan which encompasses all the core features and is available for teams of up to five people.
Asana is probably the most well-known and popular project management and collaboration tool on the market. Among its many features is the ability to roadmap your projects effortlessly - and it literally is effortless with their handy tools.
On top of that, its intuitive app lets you plan out the steps of your project and stay on track. To make building a roadmap even easier, we recommend using one of Asana’s templates. With the time and effort saved you can concentrate on making better products.
Asana also lets you keep on track through its calendar. Not only does it help prioritization, its a simple way to collaborate and make sure team members are on the same page. To make things easy, you can also visualize progress through a percentage bar.
It's impossible to come up with a successful product strategy without a clear and well-defined product roadmap. To do that efficiently, you need a specialized tool like Aha!.
Aha! allows you to visualize the product development process, prioritize features, collect customer feedback, and generate reports for stakeholders and development teams. It's great for teams of any size - from small teams getting started on their product journey to big enterprises managing multiple complex projects.
ProductPlan is another wildly popular roadmapping software. Users love it for its visual interface that allows you to easily drag-and-drop and rearrange features.
You’ll find it much more usable and easy to set up than competitors like Roadmunk and ProdPad. It’s such a pleasure to use that complicated tasks like building Gantt charts almost become fun. (Key word: almost).
ProductPlan offers a 14-day free trial, with the lowest premium plan starting at $49. While it can be tempting to go for the monthly offer, keep in mind there’s a substantial discount for switching to an annual payment plan.
ProductBoard is a relatively new kid on the block, but it’s already managed to establish a name for itself among other product management software. It’s a visually-pleasing platform for product managers to understand what customers need, plan for the future and rally their team around the road map.
More so than other tools on this list, ProductBoard emphasises understanding customer needs. They empower you to capture product ideas, requests and feedback from both colleagues and customers with easy-to-use integrations with Intercom and Zendesk.
At the moment ProductBoard positions itself as a product management tool for tiny companies and large corporations. Its lowest plan starts at $20 (almost two times lower than competitors), but you’ll need to purchase the pricier plans for advanced features and integrations with Jira and Azure DevOps.
While Trello lets you communicate with teammates through comments on card tasks, Slack makes it easy to coordinate with them in real-time. As a messaging tool it speeds up team communication and eliminates email exchanges that clutter everyone’s inboxes, but the benefits don't stop there.
What separates Slack from other messengers is the ability to categorize every product you have in development. You can create separate workspaces for each product and department within your organization. Need to separate marketing and development? Or keep two products separate? It’s just a click away.
You can share files, connect on voice or video calls and easily collaborate with partners. There is a reason over 750,000 companies use Slack - it helps work get done, fast.
One of the main advantages of Slack is its vast third-party integrations. Whether you want to connect with other project management tools, share files with Microsoft Office or Google Drive, or just find a funny gif to send to your team, Slack allows you to do it all without leaving the chat.
Tools like Slack are great for communication. But sometimes text threads can go on forever and it’s better just to hash things out with a spoken conversation. That’s where Zoom comes in.
Zoom is a video chat solution that offers a fast, efficient form of communication for teams of any size. It has been an integral part of the transition to remote work for many businesses around the globe.
Why? Because it’s simple and it works for just about everything - from company-wide conferences to individual catch ups and everything in between.
For many workplaces, it has become an irreplaceable part of project and product management workflows. Collaboration tools like screen sharing and annotations are built-in, as is the ability to record your meeting and connect to a variety of calendars.
Best of all, Zoom is completely free for teams with less than 100 members.
As a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP), much like Pendo, WalkMe for Product aims to improve trial conversion, increase retention, and develop self-service support for your onboarding process.
It starts by collecting and tracking usage data to identify potential bottlenecks that keep users from performing their tasks optimally. Basically it helps you understand how your users are interacting with your technology.
From there you can identify problems and implement solutions based on the data.
Above all, WalkMe is concentrated on helping you create a personalized user experience. It aims to help you find what’s right for your customers based on the resources at your disposal. Used well it helps improve conversion, increase retention and drive growth.
Axure is a prototyping and wireframing tool perfect for bringing ideas for your web-based digital products to life.
Using its flowchart functionality, you can plot out all the pages that users can access from your product. This gives everyone in the team a bird’s-eye view of the product you’re developing together.
Collaboration is what Axure excels at. You can even work on your wireframes with other team members, online or offline, with individual elements assigned to each person.
One particularly excellent feature is the ability for members to access their tasks and play around with designs privately, without disrupting each other’s work.
You can also provide documentation and design guidelines, so everybody on board is aware of the project expectations. If there are edits that need to be made on design elements, you can place redlines on each so the member responsible for the task can immediately take action.
Axure is a bit on the pricey side and can be advanced for some use cases. If that’s the case, we recommend checking out Balsamiq or Figma.
Any product manager knows that the job doesn’t finish just because people are using your product. In fact, there’s an even greater opportunity for you to improve your product and gain more users with a little help from your current ones.
Appcues lets you do this through automated and personalized onboarding and surveys. But while it borrows some of the functionality of simple survey tools like Surveymonkey or Typeform, Appcues concentrates on providing data to accelerate your customer lifecycle.
While users are logged in to your product you can activate pop-ups and other elements they can view and engage with. It’s about making a great first impression and guiding users where you want them to go.
Appcues then collects insights about their engagement, which you can use to optimize user experiences and make more profitable growth.
Apart from observing website visitors from a distance using analytics tools, you can go straight to the source and gain direct feedback through a survey or a contact form. Using that information, you can improve upon your current efforts.
We might be a bit biased, but we recommend checking out Paperform. It makes building online forms and landing pages easy - and you don’t need any design or coding experience.
If you’ve ever written a Word document, you can master Paperform. You can also create different types of forms where customers can sign up for appointments or even pay for your products and services.
If you’re not into building forms from scratch, Paperform has a collection of templates that you can clone in one click. After choosing the best template, edit the text and add visuals to create the perfect form for your needs.
Building products encompasses a lot more than just software development. Besides the design and interface, you have to worry about your marketing campaign before and during the launch.
UserTesting eases your concerns about how marketing could affect the performance of your product. Instead of wondering why your product didn’t sell well or is poorly received (not that this will happen to you, right?), the software helps get honest opinions and actionable insights about what people think of your product.
The platform’s Insight Core makes it easy to collect information about your product. The feature helps you run studies with beta testers to analyze what your product needs and how to improve. You can even build a custom test framework to gain targeted insights, create tasks and ask relevant questions.
Want a more personal approach? UserTesting has you covered. You can set up a 1:1 video call with your customers via Live Conversation and get insights that go beyond the data.
Using this tool will help you organize user feedback, refine user stories and present them to executives in words they’ll understand.
GetResponse is a SaaS email marketing and webinar platform. It helps you send emails, create pages and automate your marketing.
To get the most out of GetResponse you should build an email list of people interested in your product.
An effective way to do this is by creating separate sign-up and opt-in form types for users to submit their personal information. Then you can embed these forms on your website for potential customers to engage in.
You might use the newsletter sign-up form template below to get started in minutes.
You can then launch automated email series to different segments of your list so you can keep engaging with them on autopilot. Using GetResponse’s funnel builder, you can also set up emails to be sent to subscribers based on certain actions.
Finally, you can run live webinars with your subscribers to educate them about your product and get ideas on how to improve it. It's also a good idea to send your attendees a survey before the end of the webinar to get more beta testers and generate extra feedback.
Optimizely helps you ensure your product’s quality. This useful tool lets you use feature flags to slowly roll out product updates and improvements for engineers and product managers.
Don't worry. If something goes wrong, you can easily revert to the previous version without disrupting the user experience.
You can also understand your users better with Optimizely's built-in analytics. From there, you can use the Visual Editor to change each element of your website and manipulate its layout, typography and more.
Improved user experiences equate to increased conversation rates. By making changes to the site, you can get more people to click on your CTA and try your products. Then you can run A/B testing campaigns to see if the changes had positive effects on overall conversion rates.
Once your product is out in the world, the only way people can get their hands on it is to visit your website.
How your target audience responds to your website is crucial to your product. A good website can drive sales, grow brand loyalty and improve the customer experience. A bad website can have the opposite effect.
You want to build something that users will find useful and that converts leads to customers and compels people to buy. Google Analytics is a great, easy-to-use tool that can help you do this.
Generating traffic from visitors is essential. That way you can gather data to make informed decisions about the product. More importantly, you can easily undertake user research to see how users behave on your site.
Did they click on any links? Did they leave immediately, or did they hang around to read one of your helpful blog posts? You can find answers to these questions and more using Google Analytics - and ensure your website is working for you.
Unlike other analytics tools featured here, Mixpanel is dedicated to monitoring, collecting, and measuring data to improve the entire customer experience.
The tool combines powerful analytics with simple reports and flexible integrations to make sure you understand your users. Its powerful behavioral analytics lets you analyze product metrics and visualize how people explore your site and product.
By further understanding customer behavior and activity using Mixpanel, you can answer user questions and identify behaviours that lead to long-term retention.
Heat mapping refers to the process of recording what visitors do on your site.
Unlike Google Analytics, which gathers user activity data, heat mapping tools let you see the visitor’s mouse cursor, which buttons or links they clicked, and even how far down the page they scrolled.
CrazyEgg helps you rethink how to present the information on your website to visitors. For instance, if most users barely scroll past the halfway point of your homepage, you might need to place all the essential details in the top half of the page or fix hire a better copywriter.
Alongside its heat mapping features, CrazyEgg also allows you to conduct A/B tests on your page’s calls to action. You can then create variants to see which version gets the most clicks over time.
How does this help product management? You’ll be able to identify key features on your webpage and see how they are performing. By doing so you’ll be able to address issues, identify strengths and refine the overall experience with your team.
Once your product team has developed new features based on user feedback, eventually the time comes where you need to prepare for launch.
But before doing that, you need to make sure that features are working properly for all users. The last thing you want is to release your pride and joy only for a new feature to break your product and negatively impact the user experience.
To minimize issues with all users, feature management tools like LaunchDarkly let you deploy the code for new features to volunteers only. You can then get their feedback and make changes before rolling it out to all users.
Once you’ve ironed out any issues with new product features, you can release it to the public for everyone to enjoy.
Now you have the tools to help you effectively manage product development with your team. It’s time to test each one out and see what fits your needs.
Keep in mind that the apps and services mentioned above are just a few among the thousands of tools available. Luckily for you, most of them are free or offer limited trials, so you can play the field and see what works without any pressure.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to product management. Maybe you prefer Google Meet to Zoom, or Pivotal Tracker to Trello, or using a CRM like Salesforce to store customer information.
Or maybe you prefer using an old-fashioned paper calendar and communicating with owls like a Harry Potter character. It’s up to you.
Above all else, your choices depend on which tools make the product management workflow more efficient for you and your team.
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