Hand-picked product management terms, definitions, and frequently asked questions. Each product management term is defined and explained simply by our research team.
An A/B test is an essential comparative process used to identify which version of two items is most effective, such as PPC ads, landing pages, and more.
AARRR stands for Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue. Bringing these metrics together in the AARRR framework helps start-ups to grow and scale.
API is an initialism for application programming interface. An API allows two different applications to speak to each other, by acting as a software intermediary that can both send and receive information.
The Action Priority Matrix is a diagrammatic framework which helps product managers to prioritize their tasks and make the best use of their limited time. It does this by plotting the impact of a task against the effort it requires.
An affinity diagram is an organizational tool used to consolidate large volumes of information or data according to their similarities, or affinities.
Affinity Grouping is a collaborative tool used for gathering qualitative data and sorting it based on shared themes. The process also involves prioritizing the groups formed and agreeing on actions that should be taken based on the results.
Amplitude is a product intelligence app that gives companies greater insights into the relationship between their customers and their product. This allows businesses to make data-driven decisions, to improve their marketing, and their customer retention.
The application of the study of human psychology to product design.
A limited release of software or an application to assess it for bugs and other issues before it is released generally.
A bill of materials is an exhaustive list of the components, parts, and raw materials required for manufacturing a product.
Bubble sort is a beginner's algorithm in programming that can be used throughout your career. It sorts data from high to low (or low to high) by comparing each element to the one that comes after it.
Bucket Sort is a sorting algorithm that separates elements in a dataset into different buckets (also known as categories or bins). The buckets are then sorted individually and recombined to produce the final, sorted dataset.
Bugs are issues that disrupt a software’s performance, in one or more ways. Bugs may be small enough to go unnoticed until a product hits the market, or big enough to render software unusable.
Business Intelligence refers to the uncovering, interpreting and application of relevant data and information to help businesses make better decisions.
A short summary containing strategic details of the requirements to get a product to the marketplace.
Business to business is a transactional model that describes companies who sell products or services to other companies.
Business-to-consumer is the most popular commerce model in the business world. It is used to refer to companies that sell products or services directly to individual consumers.
Buy-a-Feature is a gamified approach to prioritizing a product’s development. Teams work directly with a group of customers or stakeholders to learn which features they value most as a collective.
A buyer persona is a functional tool that helps businesses maximize their customer experiences by creating products based on a concrete understanding of the people buying (but not necessarily using) them.
Product cannibalization is when a company has several products that compete with one another within the same market.
When pricing captive products, businesses usually follow a twofold strategy that combines a lower price for the core product with a higher price for accessories or replaceable items.
A methodical approach to aiding staff covert from one system or process to another.
A Chief Product Officer, or CPO, is an executive title given to the person responsible for overseeing a technology company’s full range of product operations, including strategy, innovation, management, and marketing.
A concept review is a discussion where you evaluate different or competing concepts and decide which ones you're going to invest in and see through to completion.
The Cost of Delay is a prioritization framework that helps product managers make informed decisions by weighing in the monetary implications of being late to market.
The critical path method is a modeling algorithm designed to help product managers escape inefficient scheduling and gain a clear overview of all tasks at hand.
A customer advisory board is a group of customers brought together by a business to provide expert advice and share insights about its products and services.
A framework that assesses whether or not the product fulfills the customer’s needs.
Customer empathy is the ability to see the world through your user’s eyes. This understanding helps you see where your product fits into their lifestyle, and where it can really add value.
A customer journey map outlines each step, across all touchpoints, that a user takes to interact with or buy from your product, service or brand. Customer journey maps can increase empathy with users and reveal areas for added value.
Customer success is a relationship-focused business strategy. Its primary focus is to help a customer achieve their goals when using a product or service — and to do so in an engaging, satisfying way.
The DACI Decision-Making Framework is a model designed to make group decision making faster and more effective by assigning specific roles to team members. These roles establish clear responsibilities and help avoid unhealthy disagreements.
A data product manager is an emerging role in product development. A data PM is responsible for championing data-driven insights in design, and actively leveraging the flow of data, too.
A dependency describes the relationship among activities and specifies the particular order in which they need to be performed.
A design concept establishes the core idea of driving the design and development of a product. It outlines what a product is, who it’s for, and how it works.
Design ops applies to the process of organizing and optimizing a design team’s workflow, structure, and processes to maximize its value to a company as a whole.
Design Thinking is a user-centric approach to innovation and problem solving. Focused on empathizing with users, Design Thinking is concerned with developing meaningful products that keep users’ genuine wants and needs at heart.
Principles used to transform a workforce mindset so that it can better communicate and collaborate in developing and releasing a product.
Digital transformation refers to the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business to redesign processes and products for the digital age.
Disruptive Innovation refers to a product or solution that establishes a new market, business model, or industry (ultimately, “disrupting” those that already exist).
Divergent thinking, often referred to as lateral thinking, is the process of creating multiple, unique ideas or solutions to a problem that you are trying to solve.
This is the explanatory details relating to either the products or processes.
End-to-end has several definitions, but most simply refer to the entire product journey, from initial conception to market launch and beyond.
Used within software product development to change and deliver programming code.
A feature audit provides businesses with a quick snapshot of their product's feature usage. Using a graph that plots customer activity on two axes, they outline how features are performing.
Feature bloat relates to products carrying excessive features, perhaps becoming overloaded to a point that core functions are impaired.
A feature factory is a company that consistently comes out with new features for an existing product. This is a derogatory term, as it implies that the features are poorly implemented or simply not necessary, and only serve to prop up a mediocre product.
Features are the defining attributes of a product that make it valuable to customers and distinguish it from the rest of the market.
A FAB analysis describes the features, advantages and benefits of a product, and how they work together to help differentiate a product within the market.
The Five Whys is a technique used to understand the root cause of problems, and identify counter-measures that prevent them happening again. It focuses on rectifying underlying issues rather than their symptoms.
Freemium is a business model many SaaS companies leverage. They offer two core versions of a product: free and paid, though the latter may consist of multiple packages tailored to different users.
A fundamentally new product is a breakthrough that delivers functionality and a user experience unlike any other product currently available. This may hinge on the technology utilized, the business model, or both.
This is a minimal product planning concept that stands for Goals, Ideas, Step-Projects, and Tasks.
This is the release of a product to the consumer.
Instead of getting involved in sales or design, startups first need to “get out of the building” and meet potential customers to better understand their market.
A plan with details on how to successfully release and promote a product.
Growth Product Management involves identifying opportunities to increase an existing product’s value and encourage greater adoption among target users. It does so by finding new ways to empower customers to solve problems.
The HEART framework is a methodology designed to improve and assess the user experience of software. It is an acronym based on five customer-centric metrics which help designers focus and direct development to ensure a great customer experience.
Hard skills are teachable abilities or skill sets that are required for a particular occupation. This could be a full understanding of the Adobe Suite, coding ability, SEO or bookkeeping.
The Hook Model is a four-stage framework that helps businesses build products that encourage long-term customer habits — i.e. that gets them “hooked”!
This is a mechanism within an organisation for harvesting and analysing concepts to potentially develop.
Ideation involves generating ideas through group brainstorming sessions, which may include sketching and roleplay.
A graphic or schematic method for planning which features will be incorporated into a product.
Implicit requirements are those features of a product or app which are so fundamental that they don’t need to be explicitly specified during development.
An Incremental Product is one which has been developed over time via a series of small upgrades or improvements. This process is known as incremental product innovation.
In product management, info flow is the strategy of making sure that everyone working on a product is on the same page. PMs who use strong info flow tactics can avoid miscommunications, reduce emergency meetings, and ensure a smoother development process.
Intuitive design is that which is accessible, user friendly, familiar and — crucially — tailored to its core users. Research, data-driven design, and an in-depth understanding of user needs are key.
Issue tracking refers to any method used to identify problems with a software product and map the timeline of that issue's resolution.
Jira is a tool for agile project development. It comes with a range of features, including customer support ticketing, bug tracking, and task assignment and monitoring.
Jobs To Be Done framework directs product teams to focus on the ‘job’ that a user wants to do with the product. It emphasizes developing a deep understanding of the target user’s pain points, and their end goal, to maximize a product’s value.
This is developing a product with an understanding of what the consumer wants to achieve when using the product.
This is an objective-based concept that is used to plan out the development of a product but maintain adaptability throughout
The Kano Model is a framework that product teams can use to prioritize features, by organizing them across five categories based on the value and satisfaction they deliver to a user.
This is a document that attempts to identify demand for a product.
Market validation is the process of verifying a product of concept with a target market, usually via interviews.
A mind map is a brainstorming tool which allows you to explore a central idea, and all of its related topics, in a non-linear way.
The term MVE: Minimum Viable Experience refers to how a customer feels when they interact with a brand’s MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
An aspect of a product that is experimental and includes the smallest possible attributes.
A mission statement is a clear definition of a business, its goals, its ethos, its reasons for being and its primary customers.
Mixpanel is a popular SaaS tool used to monitor customer behavior. It offers high reliability and deep insights. Businesses can use Mixpanel to understand their customer engagement, track trends among their users, and optimize their marketing.
MoSCoW Prioritization is a method for organizing project requirements based on their priority level. “MoSCoW” is an acronym for Must-Have, Should-Have, Could-Have, and Won't-Have.
A mockup is a model or replica version of how a final product is going to look and feel. Mockups are used by designers to acquire user feedback and inform changes throughout the various stages of product development.
Needfinding is the process of discovery prior to product development. Developed by Robert McKim at Stanford University in the 1970s, it focuses on customer needs rather than customer wants.
Opportunity Scoring is a prioritization method, based on user-assigned importance and satisfaction ratings. Product teams can use opportunity scoring to refocus product roadmaps, improving the value of the product overall.
An Opportunity Solution Tree, or OST, is a diagrammatic tool designed to simplify the product discovery process.
A persona is an imaginary profile designed to represent the details of a set of end-users.
Personalization is the act of tailoring a service or a product to accommodate a specific individual or group.
Pivot is a strategy that is used to redirect the business objective of a project or product.
A Platform Product Manager is responsible for the management of not just a single application, but an entire platform. Examples of these platforms include operating systems, operating environments, and web services.
This is a process by which a set of tasks are assessed for the order in which they will be developed.
Priority Poker / Planning Poker is a technique designed to help product teams prioritize their backlog in a way which is fair, democratic and a little gamified.
A product architecture map uses basic geometric shapes to express the functionality of a product. This allows the developers and designers to hone in on the right functional choices without being too concerned about the aesthetics of the product.
A product brief is the first step towards building a high-quality product. It sets the course to success by aligning all product teams under a unified strategy.
A product description sheet defines the scope of a product in specific terms. The document is used during the planning phase to create a clear idea of what the final product should look like, and is then passed on to the development team for execution.
Product design refers to the process of conceptualizing, creating, launching and improving upon a product that solves a user problem (while adding value to the business). Winter coats are an outcome of product design, as is the laptop computer.
A Product Development Manager (PDM) is responsible for researching, assessing, and coordinating the development of innovative and compelling new products. They also work on the development and improvement of existing products to better meet customer needs.
A methodical approach to aiding staff covert from one system or process to another.
Product differentiation is how a business distinguishes a service or product from others that are available in the same category.
Product discovery is the customer-centric process of determining whether or not a product or feature should be developed. It requires in-depth customer knowledge, to identify and validate which user problem(s) a build could solve.
A product disruptor is an innovation that adds new value to a business, by future-proofing against market threats, competitor rivalry or customer behavior change.
Product enablement increases awareness and understanding of a business’s product(s) across the entire organization, with the aim of making each and every employee higher performing.
Product excellence refers to a framework for developing a product or feature based on a deep understanding of user needs. Product excellence enables businesses to innovate more efficiently, enabling them to get the right products to market quickly.
A product launch describes the time a new product, good or service first hits the marketplace — and how it performs in the months that follow. Many teams will be involved in a successful product launch, including marketing, sales, finance, and development.
The product lifecycle is the journey each product takes from the inception of an idea all the way through to a product’s retirement.
A comprehensive assessment concerning the processes and strategy of an organisation’s product management.
Product Management Talent refers to a selection of candidates who have the skills and qualifications required to be successful in a particular product role.
A product manager is responsible for the success of a product. The product manager has profound knowledge on the developed product and everything that goes with it.
This is the person who’s chief objective is to broadcast the value of the product to the market.
Product ops, referring to product operations, supports a cross-functional product team to constantly ensure and improve their efficiency.
The product owner (PO) represents next to the ScrumMaster and the development team a key player in a Scrum team.
This refers to the strategic administration of all the products owned by the organization.
A product requirements document (PRD) is a detailed outline of all functionalities a software product must fulfill when being delivered.
Product requirements management refers to the process of collecting, analyzing, tracking, and prioritizing product requirements. These requirements are usually communicated later on to key stakeholders.
Product roadmaps the vision and strategic objectives for a product over time. They give development teams and stakeholders a ‘single source of truth’ that captures all the steps needed to deliver against objectives.
A product spec provides teams with critical information to guide them as they bring products to market, covering such contextual details as the target audience, user goals, and intended outcomes.
This refers to the tools that a product manager has at their disposal in order to get the product to the marketplace.
A product strategy is your business’s goal(s) for a product and the in-depth process for achieving success
The Product Tree is a visual tool used by product managers to prioritize and manage product feature inputs from both customers and stakeholders.
A product vision aims to describe the future state of a product. It is the core essence of the product.Ideally, the product vision will serve as a guide for the stakeholders, as it will remind them of the general direction the product should be taking
Product-market fit refers to the way in which a brand’s product is capable of satisfying the current market, by supplying enough units of a high-enough quality to meet demand.
The grouping together of multiple projects to meet a strategic objective.
A program manager’s essential objective is to reconcile multiple projects and teams by coordinating them and giving strategic guidance to the company’s project managers.
A project manager is responsible for the execution of a project from start to finish. A project manager is often the bridge between the team, deliverables and upper management.
A project roadmap is a visual overview capturing all critical elements of a project, from kickoff to final delivery.
Prototypes offer teams a valuable opportunity to conduct in-depth testing on products and concepts during the development process.
Quality Assurance Engineers (QA Engineers) monitor the complete software development process, to ensure the finished product aligns with key standards established by the company.
A model that aids the conversion of consumer needs and preferences into technical requirements in the development of a product.
R&D (Research and Development) is the first stage of the product lifecycle. During this phase, a product team will conceptualize and assess the viability of a new product to decide whether it is worth taking to market.
Rational Product Management is a product-development approach based on the rational development method. It provides managers with a framework for planning, iterative development, and ongoing quality control, to maximize a product’s value.
Within the software, this is when code is cleaned, or internal structure altered, to make improvements.
A report that is released with a new product, a new version of a product, or an update to a product.
A document used to record the features contained in an upcoming release.
A roadmap is a high-level strategic overview of a significant business initiative. Roadmaps are typically used to manage the development of a new product or the execution of a company-wide project.
The SWOT analysis framework assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to business, their rivals, or their project planning. SWOT is an acronym for these four factors.
Scope creep describes the tendency for projects to gradually expand, and take on a different scope of activity or output than was initially planned.
Shipping products is part of an iterative workflow, in which an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is released to gather valuable feedback. This information inspires future updates to improve the product and deliver a better user experience.
The six thinking hats is a method used to make creative discussions more productive. It's based on the work of Dr. Edward de Bono, a widely respected psychologist and author.
Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance our ability to perform our professional roles. Problem-solving, communication, and emotional intelligence are some of the most sought after soft skills.
The stage-gate model is a process used to structure the product development cycle into a series of stages and gates. Each stage represents a milestone, and a gate separates each stage, where teams decide if and how to move forward.
This is a person or group who can influence the success of the product, or in contrast, be affected by the product.
This is an assessment of all of the people who will either have an impact on the success of the product or will be affected by it.
The identification, assessment, and planning, of actions that are designed to engage with a business’ stakeholders.
Story mapping is the visualization of a user’s journey with your product, breaking each step down into user stories. This exercise can help you see clearly which features and functionalities are essential for your MVP.
The accumulated later cost in the development of a project - in time and resources - of a mistake or technical decision.
Responsible for getting the product to market and its success or failure, and similar to a product manager but with more in-depth technical expertise.
The 5 forces, also known as Porter’s 5 forces, is used in strategic business modeling to assess the strengths and weaknesses of any industry. 5 forces can be used to evaluate the industry structure of a specific company along with its place in the market.
"The user is drunk" is a unique concept in product design and development: a website or app should be so user-friendly that even a drunk user will have a pleasant experience. This can help product teams to create more streamlined, satisfying software.
A theme in product management is a simple way to convey a product’s value, comprising multiple features or initiatives which contribute to this overall objective.
This is a strategy based on information passed downward from leadership to the product manager.
Total addressable market (TAM) refers to the maximum possible revenue a product or service could generate if it was able to activate every single relevant customer.
Involves dividing product development staff into specific units for the purpose of working more flexibly.
Whilst the role of a UX designer may vary from business to business, you can think of them as an advocate users — it is the UX designer’s job to ensure the best possible user experience, in everything from purchase to packaging.
A unique selling point (USP) is the key reason a customer should choose your brand, product or service — it’s what separates you from your competition.
A use case is a specific manner in which a persona uses an aspect of a product.
User experience (UX) refers to the total, end-to-end experience of using a product or service. UX designers use first-hand research to analyze every touchpoint and interaction, seeking to reduce friction and improve user satisfaction.
User flow is the path taken by a prototypical user on a website or app to complete a task. Understanding user flow helps teams build more intuitive products.
A user persona is a semi-fictional character created to represent different customer types that use a company’s products or services.
User research includes qualitative and quantitative means of gathering user feedback on your product or service, to guarantee what you build is not only user-centric but has the best chance of commercial success.
A value proposition is an assertion of the benefits of the product to its potential consumers.
Value versus complexity is a prioritization framework assessing ideas by how valuable they are to the business and user, against how complex they will be to achieve.
Value versus effort is a prioritization model used to identify which features add the most value, while requiring the least effort. This helps teams to cut out anything that needs a lot of work, for little reward.
This refers to the mechanisms by which organizations collect feedback from their consumers.
Weighted scoring is a framework designed to help teams prioritize outstanding tasks by assigning a numeric value to each based on cost-benefit analysis.
The weighted shortest job first prioritization framework looks at the cost of delaying a project against the amount of time or effort required to complete it.
“What, not how” is a method that emphasizes the importance of what an application will do, rather than how it will work. This helps clarify a product’s purpose, speeds up planning, and simplifies decision-making during development.
A wireframe is a simple representation of a web page or application’s layout, serving as a visual prototype to illustrate the product’s various UI elements.
Working backwards (the Amazon Method) is a methodology that turns the product development process upside down. It starts at the end: with the product team writing an internal-only press release announcing the final product.