Understanding Product Operations


Creating value for customers and driving business growth is paramount in product management. However, Product Managers are often burdened with operational tasks that take away valuable time and energy from strategic activities.

This is where Product Operations, or ProductOps, comes into play. In this article, we will explore the concept of Product Operations, its benefits, potential challenges, and how it can empower Product Managers to focus on creating the most value for customers and businesses. By balancing operational efficiency and strategic innovation, organisations can maximise their potential for success.

Are you a Product Operations specialist? Has your organisation implemented ProductOps? If so, I’d love to hear from you and hear your stories on what went well, what didn’t, and what you’d do differently in the future – email me directly at mike@mike-dixon.com.

What is Product Operations?

Product Operations, or ProductOps, is a strategic function that shares similarities with DevOps in its objective and philosophy.

ProductOps encompasses a range of activities, including streamlining workflows, defining processes, driving data-driven decision-making, managing tools and technologies, and ensuring efficient communication and collaboration.

While DevOps focuses on operational challenges to enable software engineers to focus on writing good software, ProductOps aligns people, processes, and technology to optimise product management efforts. It acts as a bridge between product management, development, marketing, and other cross-functional teams.

Not all organisations have a dedicated DevOps team; ProductOps can be approached similarly. Instead of establishing a separate Product Operations team, organisations can empower their Product Managers to streamline their work and share their learnings with their peers, benefiting the entire organisation.

If the conditions are right, establishing Product Operations as a dedicated function within an organisation, much like DevOps in a software development context, companies can unlock the full potential of their Product Managers and drive sustainable growth.

Is Product Operations for Every Organisation?

While the benefits of Product Operations are considerable, it is essential to note that there might be better fits for some organisations.

Like many strategic functions, Product Operations can provide the most value in organisations with mature product practices where specific operational challenges may be inhibiting the performance of Product Managers.

When an organisation is discovering or refining its product management principles, introducing Product Operations might add more complexity than streamline processes. The focus should be on first establishing a strong product management foundation.

However, for organisations with mature product practices, Product Operations can play a pivotal role in operationalising and automating a lot of the busy work that takes away from the core responsibilities of Product Managers.

A mature product organisation often has well-defined processes, clear product strategies, and an established product culture. However, operational tasks can still become time-consuming or unwieldy due to the complexities of scale.

It is in these scenarios where Product Operations can truly shine. By handling the operational burdens and optimising workflows, ProductOps frees Product Managers and technology teams to focus on higher-value activities such as strategic planning, innovation, and customer value.

Therefore, while Product Operations can be a powerful strategic function, organisations should consider their current product maturity level before evaluating the need to establish a ProductOps function.

Regardless of an organisation’s product maturity, the ultimate aim should be to ensure that Product Managers can focus on what they do best – creating outstanding products that deliver value to customers and drive business growth. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we will dive into real-world examples of ProductOps.