7 tools to help manage your product successfully as a product owner

productfernSeptember 22, 2020

Being a successful product owner mainly comes down to your behaviours and insights. However, it is always good to have a few tools in your toolkit to help manage your product successfully! There are so many new tools out on the web to help you manage your time, remote work and collaboration.

It can be hard sometimes to justify buying or even investing the time in a new tool. All of these tools have the option to trial them. I’ve found this essential to really figure out what works. If you aren’t using the tool regularly after a 2 week trial then it’s not one to continue with! Here are 7 tools to help manage your product successfully which have been tried and tested.

Roadmap / feature / user story mapping:

Managing your product means having an excellent grip on what your product does and what it needs to do. If you have a complex product then this can mean features in the 10s, 100s or even 1000s. Managing all of these features and prioritising them is a tough task. Not to mention then communicating that with others. Using a tool can really help in this aspect. A lot of product owners might use things like Jira or even an excel spreadsheet. But these can both become unwieldy very quickly!

Aha

Aha! is product management software which offers roadmaps and more. I’ve used it regularly for products which are very large and can be hard to manage. Aha allows you to define all of your features and put them on a roadmap. It also links into Jira so you can then flow down the traceability. This is really helpful to manage 1000s of stories in Jira if you have a large team.

On top of all that, it offers other areas such as vision mapping, crowd sourcing ideas and impressive analytics. It has a similar UI to Jira so can be easy to pick up and run with. Highly recommend if you are struggling with a large product and need some support.

Roadmunk

Roadmunk has similar features to Aha in terms of managing your features. One of the best things about roadmunk is how user friendly it is. It was so quick to get up and running on it. Not only that but the roadmap templates are laid out in a really engaging way which has gone down very well with stakeholders. The roadmap can be so quick to use and edit whilst on presentation calls too. Along with the feature mapping, it helps to manage any potential features and compare which ones should be built first.

I haven’t tried to jira integration yet on roadmunk but it sounds great – it allows you to visualise your epics in the roadmap. Definitely one for me to try in future!

User tracking / analytics tools:

It can always be a bit tricky with tracking or analytics tools dependent on what type of application you are using! But if your product is compatible then you need to know more about how it’s being used. This links really closely to our previous discussion of how to combine product management and user research.

Hotjar

Hotjar allows you to really understand what users are doing in your product. Rather than just showing which pages are popular, it will show what people are looking at within each page. It really helps with things such as where to put call to actions or how easy / hard it is to do an action. It also records cursor movements and real journeys – so you can see what pages they go and in what order. This is really helpful to understand what is easy to use and where you should be focusing your effort.

There are some other alternatives to Hotjar out there but not ones I’ve personally tried. This includes things like smartlook and crazy egg.

Activity management tools to manage your product successfully:

It can’t be forgotten just how tough it is to manage all the different strands of product management. It is a multifaceted role – see the day in the life of role of an agile product owner. By using a smarter tool to manage this work it can take some admin overhead from you. This allows you to then spend the time managing the features and understanding your users!

Asana

Asana is a great tool to use with your team. If you aren’t using some of the roadmapping software then it can also double up as your planning tool too. It allows you to do to-do lists, track tasks, assign them to your team and just organise all the work which is currently going on. It also makes work more visible, if you don’t have tasks in jira then this could be a good option.

Trello

If you’re a smaller team or just want a tool to manage your own work then Trello is a great option. Trello is essentially a kanban board where you can see your work in different columns and move it as it progresses. It’s a dynamic way of managing your to-do list. Honestly I probably couldn’t do anything without a Trello board. When I have one as a product owner I have different columns for different streams of work. I can then not only prioritise each stream but compare across them as well.

Image showing a women drawing a diagram on a board to show modelling and how to manage a product successfully.

Modelling and mapping:

It can either be your love or hate but modelling is a key part of a business analyst or PO role. I generally like modelling a lot of my product through things like process maps. These models help link to data flows, system architectures and other key documents which you need to manage. Having a tool which makes it easy to manage these kind of documents is really important.

Lucidchart

Whilst your default may be to use something like Visio, I love using Lucidchart as an alternative. Lucidchart is website based and allows you to do a whole heap of different types of modelling. The BPMN process flows are excellent and really intuitive to use. They are also very easy to share and convert them into presentations. It also allows easy collaboration on models. One of the best things is an integration with your jira and confluence so you can easily reference diagrams from where they will directly be used.

What next?

If you enjoy getting suggestions for tools to help manage your product successfully then check out the 10 tools to improve remote business analysis / product management. Plus let me know what tools you rely on and which ones I should try next!

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