Product Management Tools That All Product Managers Must Use

Being a good product manager means assessing not only the right methodology but the right product management tools to help us at each stage of the process.

In this blog, we will discuss the different product management tools and the underlying goals that each will accomplish. However, when we say tools, we are also referring to the frameworks that aid the product development approach

The process can be broken down into three layers: the market, the users, and the tactical product.

1. Market and Ecosystem

For the market and ecosystem analysis, we don’t specifically use a product management tool but instead implement a framework called the business model canvas. The business model canvas helps in quickly defining and communicating the business idea or concept. It works through the different elements of business structure, which together present a bigger picture of your business.

It comprises key partners, metrics, channels, cost structure, and other elements that tell us about the product as well as the market.Lean CanvasThe business model canvas helps structure the conversation and documentation. The Lean version, called lean canvas, is also popular in the technology industry, which is more suitable for startups.

As a product manager, it is crucial to understand the market. With the business canvas model, product manager gets the insights on businesses, product, and future ideas in the market. However, remember to align everyone in the team from executive to engineers as per the business model you have. 

To create the canvas, you can use google sheets, slides, or even a piece of paper.

2. User

Fake it, sell it, and build it. When we say fake it, we mean talk to people as if you already have the final product for them. Start with mockups and press releases without diving deep into your business idea. Try explaining the product in plain English without jargon to potential users. Before building the product, write about it. This process will help you gain clarity in your thoughts and validate your product idea before making it.

The user is the Protagonist, and you are trying to solve their problem and gain value by doing so. By validating your assumptions before developing the product, reduce future risk.

However, we need to align the assumptions with the business canvas model, and team members should review it. Following this process will give direction, clarity, and crystalize the hypothesis. 

What tools to use to run surveys?

To conduct surveys, you can directly meet people and interview them or use tools like Google forms to carry out the surveys remotely. Typeform and Wufoo are other tools that can help with conducting online surveys. 

3. Product

In the product stage, we always start with low fidelity mockups as the feedback cycle is fast. After users validate our assumptions, then only we move to a high fidelity prototype and finally to development.

What tools to use?

1. Low Fidelity Mockups

The best tool for low fidelity mockups would be a pen and paper. By using pen and paper, the focus will remain on the feature rather than the design. The focus must stay in the function as added design elements distract users from the functionality. 

Other tools for low fidelity mockups include Balsamiq, Figma. Some also prefer using Sketch

In the beginning, we articulated with words, and now we articulate with designs. At least five people should validate the designs before taking further steps. Also, diversify the customers you talk to. 

2. High Fidelity Prototype

For a high fidelity prototype, we would suggest using Invision. It creates shareable links that help in the remote feedback cycle and also mimics the real product. 

3. Product Roadmaps

To create product roadmaps, we follow the agile framework. The most used tools include Trello, Excel Sheets, Basecamp, Asana. These are useful for small teams whereas Jira is preferable in mid to large size company. and Roadmunk are other product management tools that can be useful for creating roadmaps.

There are also tools that can help you organize creative projects in beautiful visual boards. One such tool is Milanote that gives you a feel of working on the wall in a creative studio – visual, tactile, and sometimes a bit messy. It is a great fit for designers who work in teams remotely.

4. Documentation

Most large organizations use Microsoft office for documentation. In distributed team google suite is preferable.

5. Analytics

After the product is developed, we need various tools to track its performance. Some tools that we use in our digital products are as follows:

a. FullStory

FullStory allows capturing customer experience data, which helps in gaining qualitative feedback. You can analyze how users are interacting with your website to figure out what works best for your users.

b. Google analytics

Google Analytics is another tool that helps in tracking the performance of your digital product. It is widely used in e-commerce platforms.

c. Mixpanel

Mixpanel is an event-driven analytics tool that allows the creation of custom events. Mostly used for SaaS products, it is a site and action-driven tool which helps track the performance of your product.

All the product management tools discussed above aid product managers in every stage of the product life cycle. However, they need to have the right mindset to get the best out of these tools.

To unpack more questions related to product development dive into our Product Podcast.

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Suja Manandhar

Suja Manandhar is a Business Development Officer at Leapfrog Technology Inc. She is an avid reader and loves to explore about the impacts technology creates in businesses.

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