The Pillars of Product Operations

Product Operations plays a vital role in supporting and enabling the product management team(s) and function within a modern business, and the successful execution of product strategies. 

The role can, and should, be broad, encompassing not only the support of the entirety of product management responsibilities, but much of the rest of the business too.

By understanding the pillars and scope of Product Operations' responsibilities and what falls outside their purview, organisations can allocate resources effectively and ensure that each team plays its part in delivering high-quality products that meet customer needs and drive business growth.

Pillars of Product Operations

Strategic Support

Product Operations teams assist and enable the Product Management teams, squads and tribes in the production and maintenance of product strategy, by ensuring effective, reliable communication, providing necessary resources & tools, and facilitating cross-functional collaboration to build, publish and execute the plan.

Business Alignment

Product Operations teams are not only concerned with supporting the product function, and by extension the technology function within a business, but are there to support and enable the entire business with what they need from the product teams to sell, support and market the product(s). Product Operations teams, like other Ops teams in modern businesses, support the business but through a Product lens and product focus.

Data-informed Decision-making

Product Operations teams leverage and provide data and analysis to inform decisions, identify trends, and uncover insights that drive continuous improvement and help guide the overall product strategy. They facilitate the establishment of key performance indicators (KPIs) and ensure these metrics are tracked and reported consistently across teams.

Valued Communication

Product Operations teams ensure that product communicates clearly, efficiently and regularly with internal stakeholders with information and updates that have value and they can easily consume and reuse in their own roles. Communication guidance focuses on delivering value to the right audience at the right time with the right level of information. Formalised feedback routes for suggestions, ideas and opportunities support efficient, focused inbound communications

Iterative Improvement

Product Operations teams ensure existing product operating processes, frameworks and methodologies are needed, add value or requirement iterative improvement. This usually focus on processes for data, communications, collaboration - other Product Operations pillars - but is applicable to the unique needs of each team and each business.

Cross-functional Collaboration

Product Operations teams foster open communication and facilitate alignment between various groups, such as product management, engineering, design, and marketing, ensuring everyone works towards common goals.

Out of Scope for Product Operations Roles 

Defining strategy

Product Operations teams support the execution of the strategy but do not routinely define it or create the roadmap, as this is the responsibility of the product management teams and leadership. Product Operations teams will support, question, check and monitor roadmaps and strategy - the ‘how’, but should not be dictating ‘what’ is produced.

Direct engineering or design work

Product Operations teams do not get hands-on development or design work; they coordinate, support, and, where possible, unblock the teams responsible for these tasks.

Direct marketing activities

Product Operations teams should not routinely manage marketing campaigns, content creation, or social media engagement but collaborate closely with marketing teams to ensure product messaging aligns with the overall strategy.

Direct Sales or customer support

Product Operations teams do not directly handle sales or customer support. Still, they may work with these teams to gather feedback and ensure customer needs are addressed in product development and improvement, or create processes to facilitate the feedback process.

Product Triage

Product Operations teams should not routinely be involved with bug triage or platform support (internally or externally).

A note for professionals

It is absolutely accepted that the needs of each business are unique, and with that comes the responsibilities of each Product Operations role to help that business be successful.

These themes of responsibilities, listed above, are for any Product Operations role that bring proven value to teams and businesses. It is assumed that a Product Operations professional will be involved in some, many, possibly all of these aspects as part of the role.