Selection Criteria for Product Management Tools

Like many product managers, I’m always looking at the various product management tools available, to see which ones would help me do my job.

Tools For What We Do

If you’re like me, you deal with all kinds of different information, on a day-to-day basis, as a product manager:

  • Customers – finding their problems and listening to their product feedback
  • Markets – your segments, their problems, and how to reach them with your solution (and if they are big enough for you to make money)
  • Positioning and value propositions – what your product does for your segment, and why it’s a better solution than the competition
  • Strategy – how the goals of your company drive the solutions you deliver, and how your solution aligns with those goals
  • Revenue and profit – how your solution will generate top and bottom line dollars
  • Roadmapping – how your solution will be shaped over time
  • Competitors – your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and what you need to do to take advantage, or overcome gaps
  • Prioritization – out of all the features and solutions you could deliver, which ones you should deliver
  • Go to market – how your prospects hear about your solution, its value to them, and why they should buy your solution instead of your competitor, or instead of doing nothing

And oh, yeah:

  • Building a solution – addressing the customer’s problem effectively with technology, with enough differentiation that it’s possible to sell successfully

It seems the last point – tools for building the solution and managing that process – are a dime a dozen.

But tools that help me with all those other things I listed – customers, segments, go to market, etc.? Practically nonexistent. Mostly I have to use Word, or Confluence, or spreadsheets, or just my big brain, to manage all that.

My Selection Criteria

So, here’s what product management tools would do to show they cared about the realities that we face as product managers. They would understand:

  • We have customers
  • Revenue is interesting
  • We do a lot of market research
  • There is competition
  • We have to take our solutions to market
  • And all the other points in my first list above

And the product management tools would then help us prioritize our solution based on those.

What You Can Do

  1. Irrespective of your tools, you need to keep all those things I listed in mind as a product manager.
  2. If your tooling doesn’t understand our domain specifically, you will need to augment whatever you are using to capture and manage that information. You can use templates, best practices, or just the power of your mind.
  3. If you’re evaluating or testing product management tools, make sure to ask the vendor about the topics I list above. How does the tool support your customer interactions? Your prioritization? Your value proposition?

What product management tools are you using?

How do you track your data about customers, revenue, competition, and go to market? Let me know in the comments.

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