Product Management Success

Product managers come from many backgrounds and often have different ideas about how to define product success. Because of this, it’s important for them to be open to a wide range of success metrics in order to make sure they are taking full advantage of the expertise on their product team. 

There are four elements that build upon each other to create a successful set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure product success. This hierarchy starts with the basic functions of the product, followed by the essential business requirements, then considers user experience and, ultimately, the health of the team working on the product. These KPIs are designed to deliver a full vision of the growth of the product.

The most important part of developing these KPIs is to ensure it’s a team effort. The product team members might define product success differently. The product manager’s job is to source these definitions of success and leverage his or her experience to determine which ones to track. While you, as a product manager, have your own area of expertise, everyone on the team has theirs as well. Listening to others and including their success metrics will not only help you identify areas for improvement you may not have considered, but it also ensures your team is engaged and believe the work they are doing is valued.

Hierarchy of product management success

The Product

The first thing to measure is the integrity of the product from a functional perspective. Does it perform at a certain baseline standard? Are people able to accomplish their goals without technical errors? Is it up and running at an acceptable speed? Just because this is the first level of the product hierarchy, doesn’t mean that it can be satisfied and forgot. Improving the product KPIs will positively affect all other levels as well.  Work with your engineers to help determine these KPIs and standards. Some measurements to consider include:

  1. Load time
  2. Number of technical errors
  3. Storage

The Business

Ultimately, the product is funded by the business, so the next level in the hierarchy is assuring the product meets the business needs. Assuming it is technically functional, is the product meeting and exceeding it’s business goals? You’ll want to work with business analysts, marketing folks, and any other stakeholders familiar with the business goals to determine these KPIs. Some measurements to consider include:

  1. Adoption
  2. Conversion
  3. Sales/profit

The Users

Once your product is functioning and satisfying it’s business goals, you should also ensure it is an easy and delightful experience for your users. Here you can work directly with your users, as well as consult with your UX designers and researchers, to determine your KPIs. Once you determine your user KPIs, be sure to have your research team include them when possible in their studies. You can also create analytics for some user KPIs. Measurements to consider include:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Time to complete tasks
  3. Directness of path to complete tasks

The Team

Finally, measure how your team is performing and feeling. Though product managers are not people managers, they are surrounded by a team of experts in a variety of fields. If some of your team members are feeling unmotivated, it may be that they don’t feel like their measurements for success are being valued in the overall product trajectory. Be it your engineers, business folks, or UX designers, if someone feels their goals for the product aren’t being considered, you’re probably not using their expertise to its fullest potential. If your engineers are very satisfied with the product but UX is not, your product is likely lacking in user experience. Conversely, if your UX team is very happy with the product but engineers are not, maybe you need to focus on optimizing some technical metrics. Your team’s performance can be measured in a variety of ways, more passively through metrics like team sprint velocity, or more proactively through surveys. Some measurements to consider include:

  1. Team sprint velocity
  2. Engagement
  3. Feeling that their opinions and ideas are recognized
  4. Individual satisfaction with the progress of the product

There are many KPIs to choose from in tracking product management success. By sourcing these KPIs from your team of experts, you can be sure to provide a full picture of the health and growth of your product.

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