Product Manager Tools Guidebook
Updated: May 19, 2022
The life of a Product Manager revolves around 2P - People and Platform (tools). On one hand, PM acts as a bridge between multiple teams, and on the other hand, PM also deals with multiple tools for multiple tasks. Finding the right tool for the right task can be a pain. Here is a list of curated tools, a Product Manager can use across various stages of Product Management.
The above steps might sound similar to UX Process or Design Thinking but altogether it’s one of the approaches for solving a problem.
This is the first phase where we interact with the users and empathize with them to understand their problems. The whole approach of user-centricity in Product Management begins from here. Below are a few of the techniques you can include in the Discover phase.
The Entire Discovery Phase can be divided into 2 sections – Primary Research & Secondary Research.
Primary Research is about reaching out to the users directly and trying to understand the problem.
One on One Interview – Either you are talking to your client or your customer, a direct conversation will help you to understand the problem that you are seeking to solve.
Surveys – One of the most widely used techniques to reach out to mass and collect their responses.
Ethnographic Research – Ethnographic research is one of the qualitative methods where you can observe or interact with the user in their real-time environment.
AEIOU – It’s one of the observation frameworks which stands for (Activities, Environment, Interactions, Objects, Users) Secondary Research is a method that involves using already existing data.
Available Data - Research Papers, Websites, White Paper, Forum.
Once all the data is collected in the Discover Phase, it’s important to analyze the data and bring out insights from the observations. The objective of this stage is to define the problem statement based on your research. Here are a few of the techniques that can be used in the Define stage.
Journey Map - A journey map is the visualization of the different phases a user goes through for completing a goal. This framework helps in identifying the key milestones in the process and the pain points in each of them.
Empathy Map – An empathy map is one of the most important techniques for capturing a user’s behavior and attitude. It deals with what users say, feels, do, and think.
User Persona – Personas are fictional characters that are created to represent different user types. There are different kinds of users and they have different needs. A user persona is another tool that helps in segmenting the users and showing their pain points and goals.
Affinity Diagram – It is a tool to organize ideas and data. It helps in consolidating information and grouping similar data.
Point of View – It is the problem statement that has been generated from the Define phase after analyzing all the data. It helps in reframing the pain points into the actionable problem statement.
This is one of the most interesting phases of the product management lifecycle. Where we come up with all possible ideas to solve the problem. First, we try to come up with as much as a crazy idea and this is called Divergent Thinking. The next step is to prioritize your idea and narrow it down and we term it Convergent Thinking. Here are a few of the techniques we can use in this phase.
Brainstorm – It’s one of the primary methods of idea generation. The whole purpose of brainstorming is collective thinking, listening to each other building on other ideas.
Crowdstorm – Just like Brainstorm, crowd storm is a technique of idea generation, where you also involve the users.
MindMap - What comes to your mind when you hear the word ____? MindMap helps you think and visually represent information. This you can associate the word with related words.
Scamper – It stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify (Also Magnify and Minify) Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse. Each part of it is different ways of idea generation.
Voting – Voting is one of the simple decision-making processes. You set the constraint of the voting process and the team can vote accordingly. It also helps in removing biases and the HIPPO effect (Highest paid member in the room) thus enabling all participants to contribute equally.
Effort vs Impact matrix – It’s a 2x2 prioritization matrix where ideas are plotted based on effort/cost of implementation and impact.
Kano Analysis – It’s another prioritization tool to define the product roadmap based on customer satisfaction. It classifies the features based on “Basic”, “Performance” and “Delighters”.
Effort Impact matrix
Once all the key features are defined, the next phase is about designing the product and coming up with a prototype. Here are a few of the tools and techniques we use in this phase
UserFlow – Similar to the customer journey, user flow is in more detail about the specific path a user takes to complete a task.
Wireframes – A wireframe is a blueprint that represents the skeleton framework of the product.
Prototype - A prototype is a model (which can be a digital or paper) which is developed to test a concept or process.
High fidelity prototype
Figma, Adobe XD
Protopie, Principle, After Effects
Here are a few more free resources that might be handy while dealing with the design phase.
BUILD / DEVELOP
Here comes the actual phase, where you develop the product, based on all the inputs. There are numerous tools and techniques that are used during the development phase based on the approach and technology. Below are a few tools that can be helpful during the Build phase.
Slack, Confluence, G-suite
Zoom, Slack, Calendly
Product Plan, AHA
Jira, Trello, Asana
TEST / VALIDATE
After a product is developed, it is important to take the feedback from the users and check with them if the product that is built actually solves their problems. Here are a couple of tools that can be useful.
A/B testing – It’s a process of comparing 2 versions of pages and measuring the difference in performance. If it’s more than 2 versions, it’s called multivariate testing.
Analytics – It helps in tracking and measuring the performance and usage of the product. There are various different metrics to measure usage.
Usability Testing - It’s a way of evaluating a product by testing it on users. You give some task to the users and they have to complete it (by using the product)
Click Tracking – It’s another analytics that measures where users click on the web/mobile page.
Based on the feedback of the users, the next step is to circle back to the ideation phase to fill any missing gaps and complete the product.
After the product is built it is equally essential to set a goal/KPI and keep tracking the progress. Here are 2 of the most used frameworks that are used:
AARRR – Activation, Acquisition, Retention, Revenue, and Referral
HEART – Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, Task Success
The source for “best practices/how to” shared are from a few famous websites listed below: