The main responsibility of a product manager is to evaluate opportunities and determine what is to be built and shipped to customers. In other words, they define what goes into the product’s backlog. Sounds quite understandable, right? But performing those duties has a complex mechanism and requires having a deep knowledge of customers, data, business, market, and industry. After all, developers and designers want to be sure that what you ask them to build is worth the shot, so you need to show them evidence.
To automate all these processes, and save time it’s essential for a product manager to have the right tools in their stack.
Eleken provides UI/UX design services for SaaS companies from a variety of industries. We had a chance to see different product management tools in action, and in this post, we will list the 10 of them that we and our clients use the most often. These tools can help you with everything from task management to collaborating with your team. So, if you’re looking for a more efficient way to cope with your duties, keep on reading!
How to choose the right product management tool for my company
The ability to find and adopt the software that best meets your team’s needs helps you to simplify workflows and therefore focus more on delivering the right product. But how could you select the right one?
Here are a few key criteria that you should consider when making your decision about product management tools and techniques:
1. Usability – the software you choose should be intuitive, and easy to learn and interact with. Besides, it should require a minimal learning process, so make sure the software provides effective customer support. Also, pay attention to its interface on various platforms and devices.
2. Functionality – the tool should meet your current and future needs, as well as the needs of your team. Consider the size of your company when choosing the toolset. For instance, startups that are starting small may opt for software with a wide range of features and integrations to save the budget, while a well-established organization may choose several tools with narrow specialization designed to solve specific challenges.
3. Flexibility – the application should integrate with other types of SaaS software you’re currently using.
4. Scalability – the tool should be able to grow with your company as your product and the team expands. Tools that are able to scale should facilitate communication between teams in different offices or even time zones. Additionally, when choosing the tool check how they manage versioning and permissions across employees from different teams.
5. Price – the tool should be affordable without compromising on quality or features.
And the final (and obvious) advice on how to choose the right tool would be to try its free version and experience the app in practice.
What tools to use for product management
Product people use a lot of applications in their work. In the list below we grouped tools used by product managers from our client’s companies into different categories according to their main purpose.
Product analysis tools
Product analytics platforms are vital for businesses as they give companies insights into how customers interact with their products and content. They show whether users are satisfied with certain features or not, how much time they spend using this or that functionality, and other user behavior in your app. Thanks to analytics software, product managers can make data-driven decisions about further product development.
Below are a couple of tools for product analysis that our clients use the most.
Pendo is a product experience platform that provides in-app guides, NPS surveys, and product analytics - all in one cloud app. Pendo helps its users enhance user adoption, and at the same time guides product teams to better understand and track user behavior.
Our clients often choose Pendo as the tool for product analysis because
- It requires no coding skills to set up and use.
- It allows analyzing product usage across the web and mobile apps.
- Its Pendo Feedback feature allows to gather and prioritize customer feature requests.
- With its help, you can track users’ click paths and page views
- It allows third-party integrations with Figma, Slack, Jira, HubSpot, Salesforce, and more.
A freemium pricing tier supports up to 1,000 monthly active users. For more than 1,000 monthly users you can contact Pendo customer support for a custom pricing plan.
One more application that is often used for product analysis purposes is Hotjar. It’s best known for its Heatmap and Session Recordings features that allow product managers to see what their customers are clicking on, what features/content interest them most, and at what point they drop off. Additionally, there are great Feedback and Survey options available, that help you communicate with users.
Some other reasons to use Hotjar are
- Supportive and informative help/blog section with many types of how-to articles and guides
- A wide list of tools packed in one app
- The features for collecting feedback, which can be helpful if you are changing one website layout to another
- Makes running A/B tests easy and effective
Hotjar offers three main packages for customers with different purposes: Observe plan, Ask plan, and the combination of both (Observe + Ask).
- Observe package gives access to heatmaps and session recordings. It has a free Basic plan that allows up to 35 daily sessions. Pro plans for bigger teams, businesses, and enterprises start at €31 per month.
- Ask package lets you ask users about their feelings/opinions and discover what they think about your product. It also has a free version for 20 monthly responses and plans for more people starting at €47.
- Observe+Ask combines the offers of these two packages and has a 15-day free trial.
The roadmap is a visual representation of the product vision spread across a time period that allows managers to build and depict data-driven plans. For a product manager roadmap tool this is definitely a must-have, as one of their main tasks is to create a high-level product vision and clearly communicate it to the development or design team.
In this list, we have the two most popular roadmapping software.
Product Plan allows its users to quickly and easily build custom product roadmaps, and quickly share them with different audiences to align their team behind the right product strategy.
Some characteristics that set Product Plan from other tools on the market are
- Clear and aesthetical UI that allows you to easily visualize and communicate your product strategy.
- A drag-and-drop editor that allows making changes in just a few clicks.
- Over 20 templates of roadmaps, release plans, executive-facing portfolios, and more.
The price starts from $39 per user per month. Additionally, there are a 14-day free trial and offers for enterprises.
Roadmunk is an easy-to-use customer-driven software for building roadmaps used by product teams to visualize product strategy. It lets product owners and product managers easily capture feedback, prioritize features, and of course, create roadmaps to communicate their strategy to the whole team.
Among the advantages of this platform are
- A built-in Jira integration.
- A Roadmunc API powered by GraphQL for more integration options
- Ability to create boardroom-ready roadmaps
Roadmunk offers a 14-day free trial, a basic plan that starts from $19 per month, and three more plans for bigger companies.
Collaboration and team messaging
Product owners/managers are responsible for communicating with different stakeholders, customers, business managers, the design and the development team to ensure the product vision is aligned with the business goals. And collaboration tools are great at bringing teams together through shared views on product plans.
Perhaps 95 % of our customers use Slack for ongoing team communication. People choose this real-time messenger as it makes it extremely easy to quickly get in touch with teammates and different groups at work.
Slack is best suited for small and medium-sized companies that need to share media files often. As well, Slack fits well for businesses with fully remote or distributed teams, as it has not only messaging functionality, but video/audio calls too.
Here are some more features that make Slack so popular
- User-friendly design that encourages quick replies and real-time collaboration
- Smart search feature, which lets users easily find the needed information across different chats and channels
- Slackbot that enables people to get automated alerts
- The ability to quickly share files and links from Google Drive or your computer
- Integrations with more than 2,400 applications
Slack offers a free plan that allows access to 10,000 of your team’s most recent messages, both cloud and on-premise hosting. The pro plans start at $6.67 per active user, per month.
One more app for team communication that some of Eleken’s clients use is Microsoft teams. Microsoft Teams is mostly adopted by companies that actively use Office 365 in their work processes.
- The software has a corporate look that creates a favorable work environment
- It is good for holding online meetings
- It can hold a large number of people with video and audio functionality
- The app provides a convenient integration with Microsoft Office 365 suite and allows its customers a real-time collaboration with their teammates in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and more
Microsoft Teams has a free version with an unlimited chat option, up to 60 minutes for a group meeting, up to 100 people per meeting, and 5 GB of cloud storage per user. Paid plans start at $4 per user per month.
Project management tools
When the list of items on your product backlog is growing, you’ll need a good tool that both visually and data-wise shows you exactly what you need to do to get back on track.
A project management tool helps you handle your project’s tasks through various stages from start to finish.
Trello is a powerful and versatile tool that helps teams not to get lost in their daily tasks, project assignments, and To-Dos. The software lets you create boards and cards to represent your product, tasks, and ideas. You can then drag and drop cards between boards to keep everything organized and visible. Plus, you can attach files, images, and notes to cards for further detail.
Trello is loved by users for its
- Easy-to-use drag-and-drop editing
- Mobile-friendly app
- Ability to attach files, organize tasks with labels and tags, and put deadline notifications
- Easy upload from your computer, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box
- Convenient data filters
Free plan allows unlimited cards and up to 10 boards per Workspace. Paid options start at $5 per user per month.
Jira is a project management tool used by Agile teams for issue management and project tracking. Product managers can use this software to manage their product backlog, capture and organize issues, track releases, and features, and assign tasks to team members. Jira also offers a variety of reports to help product managers assess the progress of their team and product.
Teams choose Jira as it offers
- Customizable Scrum and Kanban boards
- Real-time reporting
- Integrated roadmaps
- Customizable workflows to match your company’s style
- Automation engine that enables teams to easily automate tasks and processes
Jira has a freemium plan for 10 users both for cloud and on-premise hosting. The standard plan starts at $7.50 per user
Idea generation and presentation
In most cases, product managers don't come up with innovative ideas on their own. They form these ideas by analyzing customers, talking to the sales team, listening to stakeholders, and cooperating with their team. So, having a nice tool to generate and present ideas can simplify their work processes a lot.
Figjam is an online whiteboard for team collaboration. With its help product managers can brainstorm, organize and share ideas, map user flows, build flowcharts, user journey and mindmaps, create mood boards, and more.
Our team loves it because
- It has a user-friendly interface that takes no effort to start using
- It’s easy to transfer files between Figma (we’ll tell you about it in the section below) and Figjam
- Cute stamps, emojis, and a high-five feature
Figjam’s free plan is available for 3 Figma and 3 Figjam Files and unlimited personal files. Pro plan is $3 per editor per month.
Wireframing and prototyping
The last category of tools that product managers use is for design needs. To clearly communicate your ideas and prevent your team members from guessing, you’ll have to visualize what you’ve got in your head. Wireframing and prototyping serve these purposes well.
This last category is the closest to our designers’ hearts, so we want to mention only one tool here that we use most in our product design process.
Figma is a SaaS designing and prototyping software that allows real-time collaboration for multiple teams. All our projects were designed with the help of this software.
Figma is good for product managers because
- It’s simple to use and collaborate
- It runs on browsers, so your team won’t have to install an app to view a prototype
- The comment feature allows team members to provide feedback right in the app
- It's easy to share web files with just one link
- You can integrate live Figma files into apps like Notion, Jira, and Confluence.
Figma has a free plan that is enough for personal usage, but for more advanced features users have to pay $12 per editor per month.
How do I get the most out of my product management tool?
Once you've selected effective product management tools, it's important to make sure you're getting the most out of them. Here are a few tips to achieve this:
1. Learn the basics of how the tool works. This includes understanding how to create and manage products, as well as how to run reports and track your progress.
2. Use the tool to its full potential. Many product management tools offer features beyond simply creating and managing processes. For example, some tools allow you to track your team's progress, collaborate with others, and even run tests on your products.
3. Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're struggling to learn how to use the tool or aren't sure how to do something, don't be afraid to ask for help. There are usually lots of resources available, such as online support forums, user guides, or even video tutorials.
If this product management tools list isn’t enough for you check also what other SaaS tools can help you stay productive in cloud chaos.