Product Operations

Product ops is ultimately responsible for ensuring product teams are held accountable to their outcomes and ensuring the product organization is set up to scale consistently and with low friction.

Product ops is fairly new in product organizations and a useful addition to growing teams. We have worked with our clients on establishing product ops as role and on training new staff and the product organization.

Main Responsibilities of product ops

  • Engineering, design, product team communication / announcements / reinforcing process, policies, and practices
  • Maintaining templates, guidelines, how-to references and resources.
  • Streamlining intelligence and automation of tasks / routine practices.
  • Bridging important changes from inside the organization to other departments like customer support or sales.
  • Developing and maintaining a continuing education program for product managers.
  • Supporting onboarding.
  • Researching and organizing information on product management best practice.

As InVision has grown in size, product ops has become a critical function in automating and holding our team accountable to the tasks that product managers perform on a routine basis.

I’ve spoken with product ops counterparts at other companies where it’s also a growing function. I’ve heard consistently that product ops is centered on helping people within the product organization and their relevant cross-functional stakeholders to be more effective at the delivery of products that matter to the business.

Service Portfolio

We have, based on our client’s needs and requests, built a services portfolio in order to help you get a product operations role established as part of your product team or fill an imminent need.

  • Interim Product Operations Manager
  • Product Ops Starter Kit
  • Insights Workshop
Product Operations

Add Your Heading Text Here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Add Your Heading Text Here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Over time we have seen a few issues that are most common in many growing organizations, and how product ops was able to resolve them:
Organizational IssueProduct Operations Resolution

Communication became fragmented and it became difficult to get adequate context for a problem.

Product operations took on the role of conducting information exchange and documenting the context of problems the teams were trying to solve.

Communications with a sales team grew strained and product managers weren’t speaking to customers.Product Operations set up product manager/sales manager tandems that allowed product managers to get invited to live customer calls and visits a few times per month.
Communications with the support team became fragmented and inconsistent.Product operations worked with support leadership to develop a weekly support call between product managers + support team leaders to triage support tickets.
Product managers would spend their time searching for documentation on performing basic functions like our routine cadence for team meetings, getting executive approval on a project initiative, and other general product development process tasks.Built an internal team wiki and created guidelines in coordination with product leadership for consistency and easy access.
Product managers were also documenting processes and then looking for a place to put the documentation.Product ops maintained and updated all internal documentation on product process, guidelines, onboarding guides, etc. with general access for every team member in the product organization
Cross-team dependencies got more complex and took longer to resolve with a growing product and tech organization.Product Operations took on responsibilities to propose and manage processes and establish a toolset to resolve issues where cross-team dependencies lie and routine comms need to be sent to ensure individuals are aligned with each other.
In a growing team, with more product leaders and more new product managers, it became harder to onboard all new product managers consistently.Product Operations created onboarding documentation, walked new product managers through how the product is shipped, and maintained the product readiness checklist.
Getting new team members up to speed on the history of a feature/tech debt became an increasingly difficult task.Product ops organized and pointed product managers to the history of documentation that other product managers/product leaders had written, and thus reduced the effort to find the source of truth on historical decisions.

Product ops saves us time by cutting down the work on to figure out how to organize and systematize routine practices. It frees up time for product managers to focus more of their time doing strategic thinking, user research, problem discovery work, and data validation. Though, the value can be even greater later on by supporting consistency and not accruing debt in the organization.

When you add up all the time savings across the team, it quickly becomes apparent that product ops is a critical component to growing product management organizations effectively.

While the concept of scaling a product organization is not new, many companies still struggle with growing their product management teams so they are effective in each stage of a company’s expansion. Product ops will continue to evolve, becoming an increasingly important function. The best practices that product ops professionals rely on will continue to change and mature as needs shift in large organizations.

Like other functions (devops or design ops), there is ample opportunity to improve the rigor of this function to match the complex needs of product teams maturing in their practice. For example, if an organization is struggling to organize and find information that product managers frequently rely on, it could be an indication a product ops person would be helpful to their needs. In my view organizations should invest in product ops professionals to adequately support product managers as their organizations evolve because our role goes far beyond that of an administrator. We have to reduce the cognitive load on product management, enable product teams to work effectively, and establish a cadence and culture around best practices. As an example, one of my responsibilities as product ops manager is to question the way OKRs are written during the OKR review. I’m also responsible for ensuring our quarterly OKR planning cycle stays on track. I send out the kick-off email, I follow up with product managers on roadmap discussions, and ensure they are delivering the artifacts our product leaders expect.