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Product managers and product owners are always looking for more efficient ways to get their products onto the market. Product management software offers just that. With robust feature sets that help teams develop and improve products quickly, product management tools provide extra insight and transparency into the product development process. To make finding the perfect software easier, we’ve put together this guide on the best product management software and tools for 2021.
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Table of contents
- Compare the best product management software 2021
- What is product management software?
- Product management software vs project management software
- Common features of product management software
- Challenges organizations can solve with product management tools
- Industries that benefit from product management software
- Best product management software by company size
- SMB considerations for product management tools
- Enterprise considerations for product management tools
- Choosing the best product management software for your organization
Compare the best product management software 2021
Drag and Drop Road Mapping
|Backlog Management||Task Management|
What is product management software?
Product management software makes it easier for organizations to plan, develop, and market new products. Most tools offer road-mapping features, allowing teams to lay out every step of the process in advance. They can also assign resources and responsibilities to ensure they’re sticking to the budget and giving employees the tasks they’re best suited for.
Along with planning, product management software includes bug tracking and user testing features to find issues before the product is fully launched. Product managers can also assign priorities to different tasks, so teams can tackle the most important items first and backlog others until they’re ready to address them. Some tools even provide agile workflows for more efficient sprint planning.
While product management software is mainly used by the production team, the information contained in the tool also provides necessary data for marketers and sales associates to better promote the product. If the manufacturers are not part of the organization, the production team can send them product specs from their product management software.
Product management vs project management software
Product management and project management software have quite a few similarities, but they mainly differ in scope and expectations. Think of projects as smaller building blocks that come together to create the product as a whole. Product management encompasses the entirety of the product life cycle, from inception all the way through product marketing and launch. Within this lifecycle, project management helps break up the stages into more manageable pieces to optimize the process overall.
Both types of software track resource use and milestone progress. They also make it easier for employees working in separate locations to coordinate their efforts and discuss roadblocks. However, project management software is used to complete services like software implementation or construction, while product management software is geared towards product development. For example, product management software might be used to develop a new mobile app or invent and produce the next Mars rover.
Common features of product management software
Product management software improves efficiency and transparency during the development process. To that end, many product management tools contain these common features.
Resource management tools can help you visualize where you’re spending the bulk of your time, budget, and manpower during product development. You can quickly identify roadblocks and take note of areas that are using more resources than they should be. This feature also helps you pre-plan your resource allocation to improve efficiency.
Milestone tracking and road mapping
Before product development starts, you’ll need to build out a road map that includes major milestones and stages in the process. Your product management tool should provide flexible milestone tracking and road mapping features, so when client demands inevitably change, you can adjust your plans accordingly.
Collaboration features make it easier for your team to work together on product development whether they’re in the same office or not. Team members can chat, send documents, or share resources with just a few clicks. Not all product management tools will include collaboration features, but they should at least integrate with collaboration software like Slack.
Feedback is crucial to ensure you’ve delivered what the customer needs and to focus on any problem areas that arose during the process. Product management software typically includes a feedback portal so you can provide surveys and emails to both internal and external stakeholders regarding the overall success of the product. Some product management software even includes chatbots or forums where users can submit feedback or support questions.
Challenges organizations can solve with product management tools
Product managers and owners face numerous challenges when it comes to getting their products to market, including time constraints, lack of control, and changing market dynamics. Product management software can help you address these challenges.
One of the unfortunate truths of product management is that there’s almost always less time to complete the product than you need. Product management tools allow you to map out the development process ahead of time. You can ensure you have the necessary resources in place, allowing you to make the most of the time you do have. Some tools also show you the workloads of your employees, so you can assign tasks in a way that won’t cause overload.
Needing consensus from stakeholders
Within large teams, there are generally a lot of people, both internal and external, who need to approve pieces of the product before it’s complete. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get people to agree on what the most important features are. Product management software can help you build consensus with key stakeholders and get approval from different sources with fewer delays. By consolidating all of the information into a single console, stakeholders can see how the project is progressing and weigh in on key decisions with the data in front of them. The collaborative aspect of the software also allows you to tag stakeholders who need to weigh in for a better chance of getting approval quickly.
Changing market dynamics
As technology improves and markets change, what your customers require from their products is also likely to change. Road-mapping features included with product management software make it easier to adjust your plan and adapt to these changes when they come up. Most of these road maps include drag-and-drop elements, simplifying changes within the system. This flexibility improves both the quality and efficiency of your development process.
Industries that benefit from product management software
Not all industries produce products, so not all industries need product management software. However, the manufacturing, software development, and healthcare industries, among others, can all benefit from these tools. Many retail companies need custom point-of-sale (POS) software. The automotive industry is constantly innovating to provide new cars and features. The list goes on.
Manufacturing companies often have the challenges of producing a high volume of products that have been customized by stakeholders. These crucial details sometimes lead to confusion over what exactly the manufacturing team needs to produce. Product management software puts all the product information into one centralized location. This makes it easy for your production team to get the exact specifications of the product before they start manufacturing. This prevents wasted resources and keeps production moving smoothly.
Best product management tools for manufacturing companies
Software development is never easy. You have to carefully allocate resources, hire the right specialists, take customer needs into account, and develop a prototype before moving to full production. Product management software helps you extensively plan out the product in the beginning of the process, allowing you to see exactly who and what you’ll need to complete it effectively. Road mapping features and integrations to third-party tools, like GitHub, can make software development much more efficient.
Best product management tools for software development teams
Product management is often overlooked in the healthcare industry, but it’s essential for providing the best experience and ensuring patients choose your facility. Many healthcare facilities don’t collect data on their competitors, or their staff is too swamped to innovate and improve their existing products. With product management software, it’s easier to optimize current products, improve your scheduling experience, and collect feedback from your patients. Additionally, product marketers can use the information stored in the system to advertise your facility and give you a leg up on your competitors.
Best product management tools for healthcare organizations
Best product management software by company size
Atlassian Jira Product Management
SMB considerations for product management tools
In smaller companies, product managers have more responsibilities to track. As a product manager, you’ll need to handle much of the initial research, identify the problems your customers and stakeholders are having, and come up with unique solutions to those problems. You’ll be responsible for coordinating schedules, hiring the right people for each job, and organizing information in a way that’s palatable to the rest of the team.
At a smaller company, fewer resources and employees mean you’ll likely have a larger backlog. This can be frustrating, and you may look for ways to get ahead. You’ll have to re-prioritize often and ensure that your plans are flexible. You may look for product management tools with backlog management features to ease some of this burden.
SMBs tend to lean toward standalone products rather than full software suites. They’re usually cheaper and take less time to implement, which keeps processes moving. As a smaller company, you’ll likely want a product management tool that works right out of the box, rather than purchasing something you’ll have to spend extra development time to customize.
Small businesses may also need product management tools with access to 24/7 customer support that can help if something goes wrong. You may want to talk to the support team of any software you’re considering before making your final decision.
Enterprise considerations for product management tools
At large enterprises, product managers typically have more access to the resources and personnel they need to complete development. With so many people working together, it’s sometimes difficult to get everyone to agree. Using the feedback portal many product management tools offer, you can determine what the biggest issues for your stakeholders are currently and look at proactive ways to solve them.
Large organizations, especially those with remote workers or multiple offices, need product management tools with collaboration features to keep their product teams connected. If you already have collaboration tools in place, look for software that integrates with them. If you don’t know if an integration is available, ask your support team. You don’t want to purchase a product management tool only to find out it doesn’t work with your existing software.
Enterprise companies need tools that are customizable and provide integrations for the tools they already use. You might consider using a software suite that includes product management, like Jira Align, rather than purchasing a standalone product. While suites can take longer to implement than standalone products, they generally offer more flexibility and functionality.
Choosing the best product management software for your organization
There are a lot of product management tools on the market, and every organization needs something different. Small businesses need to react quickly while enterprises often look to take a more proactive approach. Where manufacturers need clear product specs and detailed progress reports, healthcare facilities may prioritize feedback portals.
Sifting through all the options to find the best one for your organization can be difficult. However, it doesn’t have to be. Using our Product Selection Tool, you can get a short, unbiased list of product management software that meets your organization’s needs. Click the banner at the top of the page to get started.