ProductOps is the newest NotNeededOps

We’re noticing that “ProductOps” is now also trying to hitch a ride on DevOps. The success of DevOps has created a pattern to promote almost anything by appending ‘Ops’ to it. We’ve seen MarketingOps, ModelOps, RevOps, FinOps, AIOps, DevSecDataOps, and now ProductOps. Most tech fads, particularly when name-dropped by CxOs, instantly have people scrambling and googling to find out what it might be. Some entrepreneurs are already trying to monetize on the insecurity by offering education and advice. 

In this article, we’ll explore the concept, the importance of DevOps, and why ProductOps will be a largely forgotten concept in a year or two, like most of the Ops constructs listed above.

Development is shaping the business, operations are running it

At Emergn, we believe a thriving company only has two jobs to do: a development job shaping the business, and an operational job running the business.

The relation between Development and Operations
The relation between Development and Operations

Development uses insights and ideas to create and improve the products and services the business offers. Operations channel them through to customers and users. From a company viewpoint, DevOps makes perfect sense aligning and integrating the two functions, so they work effectively and seamlessly. There’s nothing in between and nothing more.

When it comes to ProductOps there’s no need for anything new. No new PMO-like function, no new processes or org structures. To manage products well, and at scale, there’s just the need for good product alignment and a Chief Product Officer doing their job.

Managing products at scale

Good product alignment

This job starts with business operations. Channeling the feedback from customers, users, and crucially the operational business performance data to the product managers. Product managers use these insights to manage the product through its lifecycle. This feedback loop is what gives DevOps a crucial role in all good product management.

Product alignment is transforming business outcomes into product development insights
Product alignment is transforming business outcomes into product development insights

This is a lot easier to accomplish when the organization is structured to support product management end-to-end rather than with a development lead handing over the responsibility of “just-run-it” to someone else.

When a company has formed its governance and organizational structure along customer experiences, value streams, or product lines, aggregating a product’s performance to the level of product lines or value streams is straightforward.

The Chief Product Officer’s job

In one sentence, this is how we see the job of a Chief Product Officer: Execute the business strategy by prioritizing among your product lines (or value streams). This means interpreting the business strategy, making trade-offs, and setting priorities for all resources, including but not limited to HR, Finance, and Marketing functions, that are needed to develop and operate the products.

This job has some similarities with the coordination that a Program Management Office has in a project organization. But a modern product-aligned organization, would not need a separate organizational function and reporting.

Project-to-product and DevOps

Don’t expect any results from rebranding a PMO to ProductOps. Instead, look at the feedback and outcome metrics from customers and users using the products, and make sure they provide insights to product managers. That’s doing DevOps well. When it comes to the hard decisions on what products to support and not to support, ensure the priorities and decisions are reflected throughout all support functions.

Before you go

We would even go so far as to say, it is wasteful to google ProductOps unless you have successfully transitioned from project-to-product and aligned the organization around product lines or value streams. When you have, anything “ProductOps” will be the Chief Product Officer’s responsibility to ensure that Dev and Ops work together.

Emergn product managers are experts in providing product leaders with advice on metrics, trade-offs, and management of product portfolios. Our consultants are experienced in driving project-to-product transitions. If you have questions on how we have solved ProductOps for clients or how we can help you, please get in touch.

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