As a product manager, you probably wear a lot of hats. Strategist. Liaison. Analyst. Salesperson. QA…and those are just the ones you wear before lunch. With the litany of responsibilities on your plate, eliminating inefficiencies becomes an(other) important task. Fortunately, there’s no lack of solutions. There are tons of specialized product management tools available today to solve some of your most frustrating challenges. Let’s look at the best tools for product managers and the problems they solve.
Before we begin, matching the many available product management solutions to the assorted challenges they solve can be a little tricky. So, we’ve gone ahead and compiled a handy list of the best product management tools, grouped by category. What follows is our take on the best tools for the following product management tasks: Data Analysis, User Research, Roadmapping, Project Management, Design & Development, Behavioral Analytics, and Strategy.
Data Analysis and Visualization Tools for Product Management
Products can’t move forward without proper data visualization and analysis. Many product managers rely on Excel and Google Sheets due to their wide availability and ease of use. Lots of companies invest in Microsoft Office as a primary toolkit, and rely on Google for their email infrastructure (and therefore receive their Google Drive tools as additional goodies). However, data-heavy organizations might want a more robust, scalable solution like Tableau or Microsoft PowerBI.
User Research Tools for Product Managers
There are a variety of user research methods out there. Your customer research can be a mix of analyzing customer data, direct interactions with customers (including face-to-face meetings and customer interviews), and soliciting data from users en masse.
For this, many companies refer to customer data in Salesforce, and swear by its use as a repository for customer traits… but that’s only one part of the story. Product organizations tend to rely on multiple tools to cover their various user research needs. For example:
- Survey tools like SurveyMonkey can help PMs gather more qualitative information from their users.
- Messaging tools like Intercom and Drift can facilitate one-to-one chat interactions for additional context.
- Usability testing tools such as UserTesting can help when studying user-experience and customer interactions with your product.
Product Roadmap Visualization Tools for Product Managers
A clear visualization of your product roadmap is crucial to getting the job done right (and on-time). Different product roadmap visualization products have varying approaches to this aspect of product management, so it helps to find the right product that gels with your approach.
- Roadmunk bills itself as an easy way to build ‘boardroom-worthy’ roadmaps.
- ProductPlan says it’s the easiest way to plan, build, and communicate your product strategy.
Both options offer multiple ways to organize your roadmap (swimlane, timeline, etc) and have fresh colors and a clean interface. Flexibility and CEO-worthy displays? Hello buy-in.
Project Management Tools for Product Managers
Now we get into the nitty gritty: project management. This is one of the first go-to’s for product managers who need to invest in more software. Why? Most PM’s have so much on their plate to keep track of, and can’t afford to let any task slip through the cracks. Asana is a popular option for both enterprise and SMB companies. Because of this, many growing, cross-departmental teams that choose Asana will often stay with it as their business grows. Jira’s project management capabilities are also popular with more developer-centric teams.
Design & Development Tools for Product Managers
Because product management is all about building products, it makes sense for a PM to have a visual mock-up of what exactly they are trying to create. While good ’ole pen-and-paper may suffice for more design-oriented, creative types, many companies have opted for wireframing software to build cleaner software faster. Two clear leaders in the space are Invision and Proto.io. Both platforms are designer-friendly solutions that power iterative interface wireframes, and both have some big names on their customer lists. In Invision’s corner, we have Salesforce, Uber, and Netflix to name a few, while companies like Disney, BBC, and Amazon.com rally behind Proto.io. And one more fun fact: Evernote uses both for its wireframes.
Behavioral Analytics Tools for Product Managers
Hooray! You’ve finally launched your product! After all of the painstaking research, design, re-design, and re-re-design, it’s time to sit back and let your great product solve the market’s problems, right?
WRONG – The real work has just begun, and you need to start tracking *everything.* Every click, every swipe, and every sneeze from the user needs to be logged, and you need to have confidence in your ability to analyze that data. Product Managers of enterprise software are using Gainsight PX to understand which features drive the most value for their customers. For A/B testing, Optimizely is a popular option that enables product managers to float product and UX trial balloons to segments of their user bases. Meanwhile, Mixpanel has both A/B testing and user behaviour tracking capabilities, but keep in mind that each tool may appeal differently to PMs. Knowledge is power, and it pays to shop around.
Strategic Tools for Product Managers
Now for the shameless self-promotion… we know it sounds hokey, but we really do believe in UserVoice! After all, it’s impossible to develop great products without knowing what to build next and why. UserVoice takes the guesswork out of managing product feedback, and gives you data to strategically determine what features will become priority for your roadmap.
Product Managers love us because UserVoice simultaneously captures and analyzes data from internal and external stakeholders, and allows you to justify the next move for your product. With UserVoice, manually managing your feedback loop is a thing of the past. Want to learn more?
While it’s clear that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all tool for every product management objective under the sun, you can take some solace in the fact that increasingly sophisticated product management software can remove inefficiencies and improve communication, all in all taking a large portion of work out of the equation.