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Different Types of Product Teams

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Last updated on
25th Mar, 2021
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08th Mar, 2021
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Different Types of Product Teams

The product team is accountable for implementing different strategies for developing the roadmap and defining product features. The team would choose what to build, promote and what is new, and measure accomplishments of organizational roles within the company. A product team is typically composed of cross-functional teammates. They are accountable for product management, marketing, user experience, and analytics.

The digitalization of businesses has had companies create more and more applications for their end-users and domestic needs. AI-powered chatbots are now replacing humans when it comes to addressing customer grievances. Many non-tech companies have started outsourcing their work to integral engineering teams with dedicated product owners, product managers, and business analysts, who deliver the product with full responsibility.

The company requires a global visionary who can drive the team in the correct direction for product development. The rest depends on the shoulders of the outsourcing team. Startups and large companies benefit from having dedicated development teams.

WHAT IS A PRODUCT TEAM?

A product team structure is typically composed of cross-functional teammates. They are accountable for product management, product marketing, user experience, and product analytics. Product teams may be provided with assignments for marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. 

Individual product team

The product team typically combines multiple roles throughout the organization, all of which have an impact on the product and strategic roadmap. This group includes individuals from engineering/development, sales, support, operations, and marketing; all of whom are led by a product manager. 

Organizational team structure

The product development team includes product managers, associate product managers, research analysts, and business analysts. All organizations are set up a bit differently and this team can also include technical PMs, UX team members, product marketers as well as other roles. 

Below are the roles and responsibilities of each function within a typical product organization:

Functional Areas   

  • Product management 

Responsibilities of management 

  • Set the product perception and approach 
  • Organize and deliver releases 
  • Assemble and curate unique ideas 
  • Create new product features 

Roles in management 

  • Product Director  
  • Product manager 
  • Owner of the product 
  • Associate product manager 

Functional Areas  

  • User design experience (UX) 

Responsibilities of UX 

  • User research 
  • Create user stories 
  • Creating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes 
  • Usability testing 

UX Roles 

  • Director 
  • UX product manager 
  • UX senior designer 
  • Designer UX  

Functional Areas  

  • Product Analytics

Responsibilities in Analytics 

  • Data sources Integration  
  • Market trends research 
  • User journeys 
  • User behavior and pain points 

Analytics Roles 

  • Director 
  • Manager Analytics 
  • Product senior analyst 
  • Business analyst

THE PRODUCT CORE TEAM
THE PRODUCT CORE TEAM

The Core Product team is the one that builds and maintains the key features of the product that has been developed. For e.g., Key features of the Zoho (Project Management tool) are built and maintained by the core team, and this is the reason for its seamless and flawless management of different projects and teams. The better a product is built with outstanding features, the more it gets adopted by users and the more business value it generates.  

The Core Product team is also responsible for solving customer problems and helping customers with their issues.  To achieve this, the team focuses on a range of activities as below: 

  1. Distinguishing unmet needs, underserved audiences, or inadequately solved problems. 
  2. Implementing solutions that adhere to the expectations of the customers; considering factors such as viability, feasibility, usability, and value. 
  3. Giving solutions that are robust, fault-tolerant, and maintainable 
  4. Operating, maintaining, and improving these solutions. 

THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A CORE PRODUCT MANAGER

A product manager combines a business plan, design knowledge, and customer requirements in order to develop a product that is suitable, feasible, and valuable. PMs are focused on optimizing a product to accomplish the business goals and user necessities while maximizing return on investment. 

The product manager contrives all of the white space around the product. The product manager tackles everything that falls outside of the bounds of any of the three (business plan, design knowledge, and customer requirements) core groups. 

An API product manager and other product managers would have different customers. That means that the product manager needs to be much better at technical skills. 

As another example, a consumer product manager might be assisting millions of customers, and therefore needs to be extremely quantitative. A B2B product manager would serve a dozen total customers, and therefore needs to be highly skilled at change management, negotiations, and objection approach. 

Within the same company, we can see a diversity of product managers, because each product manager is managing fundamentally different problems as they are working with different kinds of customers, business stakeholders, and development teams. 

THE PLATFORM PRODUCT TEAM

The product platform team is responsible for developing the tools and building blocks that allow product developers to formulate relevant features instantly. 

  1. Product Platform team builds and maintains the frameworks that encapsulate resolutions to regular problems.  
  2. Tools built by the platform team speed up iteration and debugging; for example, a tool allowing developers to spin up a fake sandbox instance in order to test new features. 

The product platform team cooperates with product developers in order to ensure that we are giving the best support. This includes: 

  1. Giving out questionnaires to identify general improvement pain points and untapped potential for amendments to frameworks and tooling 
  2. Product platform provides valuable suggestions and thoughts to the team which helps them work efficiently and seamlessly. 
  3. As we progress, keeping stakeholders associated with regular meetings and updates in order to make sure we’re formulating the right thing. 

Product platform engineers often have some of the following specialized skills: 

  1. Ability to complete large-scale codebase migrations. 
  2. Provide expertise to establish appropriate ideas for the use cases. 
  3. Efficiently managing the project and satisfying the demands of stakeholders with assorted interests.

PLATFORM PRODUCT MANAGER RESPONSIBILITIES

A product manager outlines consumer needs and business goals and translates them into viable, innovative products. They compose and execute the necessary steps to move new products through each stage of development i.e. from inception to product launch. 

Developing roadmaps to drive products, authorizing and communicating product requirements, supervising usability testing and prototype development, prioritizing features, writing improvements, and determining and tracking metrics are daily activities of the platform manager. The product platform manager is bound to meet milestones and deadlines for deliverables; formulating user stories, packaging and promoting, expediting cross-functional teams, and directing market research and competitive analysis. 

Platform managers working in a computer company focus on improving the overall performance of computer systems, while other platform managers focus on improving platforms upon which computer programs will run. All of these improvements should be done within budget and customer needs. At Yahoo!, the platform manager acts as an alliance between the platform development team and its customers. These managers are accountable for answering customer questions and also explaining customer concerns to the project development team. 

THE GROWTH TEAM’S GROWTH

The growth product manager ideally operates with a dedicated, cross-functional team, often referred to as a seed, of engineering, analyst, and design resources, joined with additional non-dedicated resources from teams directly impacted by the goal at hand. For example, if the purpose is to improve sales of Product A, the core product manager of that product will be involved in different activities such as implementing user friendly features, digital marketing etc. 

In limited developed organizations, the growth PM may only have access to a dedicated, full-stack engineer or may have no committed resources at all. In this situation, the growth PM must establish a firm business case to gain access to a number of non-dedicated, cross-functional resources to support. 

Here are a few tips, if you are building a growth team:

  1. Discover Problem - Find a unique problem that could help drive growth. Typically, this is an abandoned area at the company. Product manager should not try to own all of the growth as this will demotivate the team. 
  2. Development and no retaliation - Appreciate the culture and principles that made the company flourish. Develop these principles and don't re-write them. 
  3. Failure - Explore quick wins but expect that the team could fail early and often. Give them enough opportunity to finish the task. 
  4. Communicate and celebrate the success - Use success as carrot and display how to approach problems.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF GROWTH PRODUCT MANAGER

Growth product managers help to reduce obstacles that arise during the development of the product, which intimates that they enable customers and users to promptly find gain within the core product. In other words, growth product managers would be more fruitful when there is already an existing product that hasn’t yet been matured enough for its growth. Lots of organizations would ideally engage core product managers first and then would hire growth product managers as core product managers would facilitate new use cases in the product. 

The difference can be noticed between core product managers and growth product managers. 

  1. Core product managers open new superpowers. 
  2. Growth product managers expedite the pace at which users gain superpowers. 

Following are the key responsibilities of a growth product manager. 

  1. Growth product managers are all about eliminating disagreement. Growth product managers instead of owning a specific set of product functionality are highly focused on metrics. 
  2. Growth product managers are given specific direction to operate across many diverse product functionalities to optimize important metrics. They will be more focused on how to drive more value from existing products. 

Describing at a high level, growth product managers need to be both obsessively quantitative and creatively qualitative. 

SCRUM PRODUCT OWNER 

SCRUM PRODUCT OWNER

The product owner is a position on a product development team accountable for maintaining the product backlog in order to accomplish the desired consequence that a product development team attempts to achieve.   

Important activities to accomplish in this role include: 

  1. Clearly recognize and determine product backlog items in order to build a shared understanding of the problem and resolution with the product development team 
  2. Advance decisions concerning priority of product backlog items in order to deliver maximum outcome with minimum output 
  3. Discover whether a product backlog item was adequately addressed 
  4. Guarantee transparency into the upcoming work of the product development team. 

The product owner role was designed as part of the Scrum framework in line to address hurdles that the product development teams had with various, conflicting direction, or no direction at all with respect to what to develop. 

Many assume that a product owner is someone who can spend a considerable amount of time with the product development team giving clarification on product backlog items and making decisions about which product backlog items to do. 

The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Development Team. The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it. However, the Product Owner remains accountable. 

The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the aspirations of a committee in the Product Backlog, but those desiring to change a Product Backlog item’s priority must address the Product Owner. 

For the Product Owner to succeed, the whole organization must appreciate his or her decisions. The Product Owner’s conclusions are evident in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog. No one can force the Development Team to operate from a different set of requirements. 

FEATURE OWNER AND COMPONENT OWNER 

A feature owner, in reverse, is focused on one or more specific and individual features. The feature owner’s liability is to guarantee that the features function well, for instance, that the drop-off amount of the checkout feature is low. On the other hand, a component owner takes care of one or more segments, such as, the user interface or data access layer. This person makes sure that the architectural component works as anticipated. To do so, the person needs to possess relevant and suitable technical skills.  

The picture below illustrates the three different owner roles.

Using feature and component owners is a scaling technique. It benefits to grow product by dividing the product responsibilities. A familiar approach is to have one overall product owner who accomplishes the entire product and several feature and component owners who look after its different elements.

PLATFORM OWNER

Software platform is a collection of digital assets that are used by different products, and a platform owner maintains such a platform. The individual is accountable for maximizing the value of the platform, for example, reducing the time of launching of product to market that are developed and on top of it reducing development cost. A platform owner is similar to a product owner and should have in-depth technological expertise that they would need in order to communicate with the users of the productThe users may be development team members who build products that use that platform. When a platform matures, it may be necessary to share product ownership and propose new features. 

SAFe® PRODUCT OWNER 

The agile scaling framework SAFe handles its own product owner role, the SAFe product owner. Despite the similarity of the name, the role significantly deviates from the Scrum product owner. While the Scrum product owner owns a product in its totality, a SAFe product owner looks after the product features, describes user stories, operates on a subset of the product backlog, and communicates with one or more development teams.  

The SAFe product owner is focused on the product tactics. The strategic product responsibilities are taken on by another role, the SAFe product manager.  

The SAFe model divides the product ownership into two distinct roles:  

  1. SAFe product manager owns the strategic product decisions 
  2. SAFe product owner is in charge of the tactics.  

This is in contrast to the Scrum product owner who operates full-stack product ownership, from vision to the tactics, as the following picture shows.  

 
SAFe® PRODUCT OWNER

PORTFOLIO OWNER 

A portfolio owner handles a group of products, and the role is also known as product portfolio manager. Example of a product portfolio is the owner who handles ecommerce, healthcare and publication products/services under one full portfolio. 

The job of a portfolio owner is to maximize the value that a product portfolio creates. This includes actively accomplishing the portfolio, cooperating with the product owners who look after the products within the portfolio, tuning with the individual product strategies and product roadmaps, aligning major releases, accomplishing dependencies, and creating and improving common user experience across the various products.  

The individual who has solid product management experience and skills and has successfully managed individual products would fit into this role. For a smaller product portfolio, the head of product would take on this role without any hiccups else a dedicated full-time portfolio owner will be expected. 

CONCLUSION

Product teams require sound structure and well-defined roles. it starts with a clear strategy that describes what needs to be achieved. A clear product concept, vision and strategy helps teams to cooperate in a dynamic way — no matter how the team is structured. 

Many product teams rely on purpose-built software to determine and define strategies, manage ideas, formulate visual roadmaps, and examine results in a centralized location. 

Six Product Ownership roles

Profile

Rajesh Bhagia

Blog Author

Rajesh Bhagia is experienced campaigner in Lamp technologies and has 10 years of experience in Project Management. He has worked in Multinational companies and has handled small to very complex projects single-handedly. He started his career as Junior Programmer and has evolved in different positions including Project Manager of Projects in E-commerce Portals. Currently, he is handling one of the largest project in E-commerce Domain in MNC company which deals in nearly 9.5 million SKU's.

In his role as Project Manager at MNC company, Rajesh fosters an environment of teamwork and ensures that strategy is clearly defined while overseeing performance and maintaining morale. His strong communication and client service skills enhance his process-driven management philosophy.

Rajesh is a certified Zend Professional and has developed a flair for implementing PMP Knowledge Areas in daily work schedules. He has well understood the importance of these process and considers that using the knowledge Areas efficiently and correctly can turn projects to success. He also writes articles/blogs on Technology and Management