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Product Management

How to Evaluate and Select B2B SaaS Tools for Product Management

20 Nov 20237 mins read
Quadri Oshibotu
How to Evaluate and Select B2B SaaS Tools for Product Management
By Quadri Oshibotu
CONTENTS

Product teams work with skilled stakeholders to solve customer and business problems with technology. They accomplish this by understanding market needs, launching solutions, and numerous iterations post-release.

Products are often categorized based on the industry they serve, however, another categorization is based on who they are meant to serve, customers or businesses.

Products that are focused on servicing customers are known as business-to-consumer (B2C) products, and those focused on serving businesses are known as business-to-business (B2B) products.

We will refer to them by their acronyms for the remainder of this article.

roadmap-for-business-managers

B2C vs. B2B products

B2B products are offered directly to end users to solve their problems.

For example, anyone who wants to consume music can download Spotify and pay for a monthly subscription.

B2B products are digital solutions that solve business problems. 

Salesforce, for example, is not purchased and used by the everyday consumer. Business executives rely on it for their business needs.

Product teams need reliable tools to support their product management process. However, there are some differences between how product management is practiced for B2C and B2B products that need to be considered during software evaluation.

What?

Product management for B2C and B2B products

Here are some of the key differences between how product management is practiced with B2C and B2B products.

Target customer

With B2C products the focus is on serving individual customers.

Product teams understand consumer wants, needs, identify their behaviors, and gather their feedback to ensure that their needs are met.

With B2B products, to deliver value product teams must understand the business’s unique needs, its industry, and the needs of the various stakeholders within the.

Sales cycle

With B2C products the sales cycle is short and non-complex.

B2B products have longer and more complex sales cycles.

This is due to the multiple stakeholders who need to be consulted, decision makers, influencers, and champions within the business, along with the detailed analysis of whether the product meets the business's requirements.

stakeholders meeting

Customization

B2C products are generally standard, built to meet the needs of the majority of their consumer base.

B2B products however often require a higher level of customization to meet business requirements.

There are often customization options for business stakeholders to modify the product according to their needs.

Product managers must work closely with these stakeholders to understand their needs, prioritize requests, and provide timelines.

Release flexibility

Product teams can release B2C product improvements and updates when they choose to do so. If they provide advance notice to their user base it is by choice.

B2B product teams however don’t have this leeway.

Customization and enhancement requests from business stakeholders are often requested to support the goals and strategic initiatives of the business. And sometimes they are needed to unblock other initiatives.

Business leaders must know when they will receive their requests as their business operations depend on them.

There are many more differences besides these four, relating to other factors including decision making, data and analytics, the product life cycle, capturing feedback, and more.

However, let’s outline some of the benefits that product teams can actualize when they take advantage of B2B product management tools.

Releases

Benefits of B2B product management tools

A B2B SaaS product management tool supports product teams with their product management processes and workflows.

They come with many capabilities which include:

Streamlined workflows

B2B product management tools enable product teams to streamline their daily tasks. With modular product management tools like airfocus, teams can customize their workflows to get work done faster, their way

Improved collaboration

Product leaders can better collaborate with other teams to make decisions, share information, and make decisions.

Enhanced productivity

With the multiple features and capabilities available, they reduce the manual effort that product teams perform. Ultimately helping them and key stakeholders increase their productivity and efficiency.

Key considerations for B2B software selection

Here are some of the key areas to consider when evaluating B2B product management tools.

Functionality

Understand the specific functionality that your team requires. It’s helpful to jot down a list of the problems that you want to solve along with the functionality to do so.

While it’s standard for product management tools to offer roadmapping capabilities, know the specific capabilities that you need.

Perhaps you need the ability to create customizable roadmaps to specific views and collaborate with business stakeholders while keeping them informed.

And what about feedback management? This comes in handy when you need to gather feedback from business leaders.

This process can be streamlined when customers have a specific channel where they can provide feedback themselves.

Voom Portal

User interface

A nice design and seamless user experience makes it easier for users to adopt products.

This is also an important factor to consider if your customers will interact with this tool as well.

Consider the product’s user interface and analyze whether you can navigate through it alone. And if assistance is required, find out if an onboarding process is offered.

Integration capabilities

Software companies that service B2B businesses often have many other tools that they use to deliver value to their customers. These include project management tools, customer success tools, data analysis tools, and more.

Consider the integrations that are offered and if they match the ones that your team uses.

Integrations are a key differentiating factor. airfocus for example not only offers a list of integrations, but also detailed steps on how to set them up.

Integrations

Product demos/Free trial

Are demos of the product available? And if so, what about a free trial for you to take the tool for a run?

Live demos are beneficial, but testing the tool will give you a much better understanding if it will meet your team’s needs.

Scalability

The more businesses you serve the more this tool will be pushed to its limits.

When you select a tool with scalability in mind then you can continue to rely on it in the long term. Rather than having to switch tools every couple of years because the initial tool selected does not support your growth.

This is just a short list, some other factors to consider include: security, customer support, customer reviews, and more.

Modularity

4 B2B Product management tools to consider

While there are many B2B product management tools available, here are 4 that you should check out.

1. airfocus

airfocus main page

Whether you support B2C or B2B products, airfocus is the only modular collaborative product management tool that will support your product management process.

Create roadmaps in a manner of minutes with out-of-the-box ready to use templates. Customize the templates and share specific views with stakeholders to keep them up to date on progress. 

Teams can even roll up various roadmaps into one single source of truth, and seamlessly share and export roadmaps via secure URLs and exports.

Not only can product teams centralize feedback from various sources and stakeholders, with Insights, business leaders can directly share feedback themselves.

This visually appealing tool with a seamless product experience also offers multiple two-way integrations with notable development and feedback tools.

airfocus also recently added an embedded Objectives and OKRs app that helps you connect strategy with execution, get everyone aligned and understand how every goal contributes to the overall business objectives. Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Robust integrations with development tools like Jira, Github, and Asana

  • Ability to create and share roadmaps

  • Consolidation of multiple roadmaps into a portfolio view

  • Customizable fields and views

  • Personalized prioritization system, including priority poker

  • Focus on customer feedback via their feedback portal and insights apps

  • Intuitive and fast setup process

  • Embedded Objectives and OKRs.

Cons:

  • Some time needed to grasp the modularity concept

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2. Aha!

Aha!

Aha! Is a roadmapping tool for product teams to create roadmaps and share product development plans with stakeholders.

Roadmaps can be customized to meet the needs of various audiences and shared via custom presentations or secure web pages.

With its ideas portal, product teams can crowdsource feedback from customers, engage with their community, and analyze trends.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Enhanced backlog management

  • Adaptable and flexible fields

  • Comprehensive tracking and reporting

  • Customer engagement and feedback gathering

Cons:

  • Confined to Gantt chart-style roadmapping

  • Includes numerous features that might be superfluous for some users

  • Feature management depends on voting rather than a problem-solving strategy

  • Challenging learning curve

3. Productboard

Productplan vs. Productboard

Productboard is an end-to-end product management platform built for product teams to gather insights, prioritize work, and align stakeholders with roadmaps. 

Product teams can centralize customer feedback, validate ideas, and gain support for their end-to-end processes with multiple integrations.

It has high security standards, it also offers API support.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Prioritizes customer feedback and insights

  • Provides a public portal for customer engagement

  • Offers the ability to share roadmaps

Cons

  • Unclear messaging about its approach to roadmaps and product management, lacking a clear distinction between project and product-based approaches

  • No focus on discovery, experimentation, or outcomes in the tool's functionality

  • High pricing

4. monday.com

monday.com vs aha

With monday.com users can create the tools needed to get their work done with an interface that supports building blocks and integrations for teams to customize their work.

With this open platform product teams can maximize efficiencies and work at scale to adapt to the needs of large businesses.

Numerous product teams can rely on monday.com for roadmapping, managing their feature backlog, bug tracking, team communication, and more.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Adaptable and visually pleasing 

  • Simple management 

  • Ideal for project management, sales, and operations teams

Cons:

  • Lacks a dedicated emphasis on product management 

  • Integrations and automation not included in the Basic pricing plan

Conclusion

Product teams need tools to support their product development process. However, not all tools are created equal.

Teams that manage B2B products must be aware of their specific needs and keep this in mind during their software selection process.

Rather than a tool that forces you to work a specific way, consider a modular tool that fits with your team's product development process.

Book a demo or start your free trial to learn more about how airfocus can assist your product management process.

Quadri Oshibotu

Quadri Oshibotu

Founder, Instructor, and Mentor @ Product Hall
Quadri is an experienced product manager with multiple years of experience building world-class products. He is passionate about building products that have a positive impact on people’s lives and helping people grow through training and mentorship....more
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