“CEO of the product”, is how Ben Horowitz, Opsware CEO, describes product managers.
Which means that they are supposed to be masters of the three ever-changing Ps of business — the people, the processes, and well, the product.
The scale of responsibility becomes clear as you look at the gamut of things they have to do.
- ask questions to find out exactly what the users need
- work with the dev team to prioritize what to build
- align all the teams in the company around the product vision and roadmap
- allocate resources to ship features on time
- celebrate success or share learnings from failure, and
- do it all over again every time a new feature or product is developed
It can truly be a lot to handle.
Which is why they must rely on product management tools to ease the load and do their jobs more effectively.
Importance of product management tools
Product management tools let product managers work with greater speed and precision to deliver products seamlessly to the users. These tools have evolved from simple spreadsheets and word editors to an array of specialized tools for every step along the product life-cycle.
Product management tools are important for the following reasons:
- They ensure transparency regarding product vision across the organization
- They improve documentation and keep everyone on the same page
- They simplify collaboration among different teams
- They enable product managers to take decisions rooted in customer insights
- They enable product managers to define, organize, delegate, and monitor tasks
- They provide scope for rapid experimentation and testing of products and features
This is exactly why we’ve come up with a list of best product management tools for every stage of the product life-cycle — from market research and ideation, to product roadmap, to user journey mapping, to prototyping, managing sprints, and finally, launch and delivery.
List of Best Product Management Tools that every product manager should be aware of in 2023
Check out these widely-used product management tools to ease your woes in 2023
Product strategy and roadmapping
Think of Coda as a super document — “a new kind of doc that brings words, data, and teams together.” And this is what makes it ideal for documenting your product strategy and roadmap.
Essentially, Coda lets you break a long doc into easily navigable and linkable titled pages. It combines the features and functionalities of Google Docs, Google Sheets, Notion, and Airtable so you don’t have to flit from app to app to get things done.
There are just a few caveats to using Coda. The learning curve is steep and heavier docs load a little too slowly.
Aha! Roadmaps is a tool built especially for product teams. Users of the tool can set goals and initiatives first, then link them through to key features, and the visual product roadmap. You can use this tool to ease every step of strategy planning — market research, creating buyer personas, capturing your business model, defining positioning, analyzing competitors, and setting OKRs for your team — on one platform.
Crowdsourcing ideas, prioritizing features, and customizing roadmaps for every segment of your audience is also possible. While the customization options are limitless, they can make the software complex to understand.
The combination of simple note-taking and templatized task management in one app is what makes Notion a top contender for a strategy planning and roadmapping tool.
Notion’s versatility also means that you can use it for creating any type of documents — be it your PRDs, roadmaps, strategy docs, meeting notes from the standup, or project plans.
It is highly collaborative — you can control access settings for pages and databases; you can tag your notes and teammates to assign responsibilities; and use simple checklists, formulae, tables, Kanban boards, and many more features for smarter organization.
Mixpanel is incredibly useful for gaining top-level product insights. Tracking Mixpanel events can help product managers understand the pattern of user choices as they interact with the product at various stages of the funnel.
Data from Mixpanel has helped us improve our user onboarding flow, for instance, by identifying where users are dropping off and how to minimize the churn.
The only major limitation is that the UI can be overwhelming for new users and support material is hard to find.
Segment helps product teams by collecting data from every customer touchpoint and feeding it to other tools and data warehouses as per need.
You can also make use of Segment to create comprehensive user profiles and transform raw data into traits and predictions for each customer. It’s evident that Segment is not just valuable for product teams but also marketing, data science, and customer service teams.
As with many other analytics tools, however, there is a small learning curve involved with Segment, and the extensive data collected can sometimes be unnecessary and too much to look at, without providing real business value.
Amplitude enables product teams to optimize for the right combination of features and customer actions.
You can use Amplitude to
- measure user engagement
- identify conversion and retention drivers
- conduct root cause analysis for spikes or drips in behavior charts
- generate custom content and product recommendations for your users
A common issue teams face with Amplitude is the high loading time of the dashboards. Amplitude Events can also be unreliable and stop triggering sometimes, which is an inconvenience and can cause teams to lose important data.
Customer feedback and surveys
One of the most reliable survey apps out there, Google Forms is perhaps also one of the easiest to understand, set up, and use.
Google Forms, while free to use, make it tough for an organization to add its own branding to the surveys and feedback forms, which can be a let-down. And the use-case for large-scale surveys can be pretty limited as the result/analytics functionality could use a lot of improvement.
One of our favorite apps, Typeform’s USP lies in how simply it lets you create aesthetically pleasing forms for conducting user surveys without needing to code.
Typeform surveys appear to be non-intrusive as it presents questions one at a time, without bombarding the recipient. They can also be embedded effortlessly into emails and social media posts for convenience.
Typeform provides quick and easy integrations with a variety of CRM software for follow-up and further analysis.
SurveyMonkey offers one of the best survey designs with a huge choice of the types of questions that you can add to your survey forms. You can also customize the design elements and branding.
While their analytics and reporting are quite basic, the functionalities for building and sharing surveys as well as viewing answers are top-notch. The simple, intuitive UI is a huge plus especially for small teams.
Design and prototyping
Miro is a collaborative whiteboard/mind-mapping tool that comes with an editing mode for real-time collaboration and a presentation mode for showcasing work.
Product managers can also run workshops, presentations, or even meetings using Miro where different team members can collaborate without a hitch.
While Miro offers good templates for most use cases, it can be a challenge to streamline the sizes of elements while working on different parts of the canvas, which is slightly annoying.
Our product team uses Figma for all things design because you can do virtually everything on it — from wireframing, UI creation, and illustrating, to prototyping, and shipping to the dev team.
And it comes with plugins for all elements including stock photos, flow diagrams, color accessibility, charts, and icons. Using FigJam with Figma lets you have the best of a design tool and a whiteboard tool together.
New designers can struggle with the tool initially due to the absence of detailed tutorials.
Feature development management
As a product manager, you have to be constantly in the loop about feature development and sync with the dev team. Linear can help by eliminating the back and forth and letting you track every stage of development in the sprint seamlessly.
For this reason, it’s one of our favorite ticketing tools. Our product team is a fan of their clean, sleek UI and extensive keyboard shortcuts. You can also use Linear to collaborate with multiple teams at once and tie goals to the overarching roadmap.
You can use Asana to seamlessly share project status, identify bottlenecks, and streamline workflows — across your entire workplace. With lists, timelines, and Kanban boards, you can always enjoy a bird’s eye view of every stage in the product development process.
The greatest benefit of Asana lies in its automations. You can create custom rules to automate the tedious jobs of assigning work, setting due dates, and more. Asana’s 200+ integrations can also help save a great deal of time for your team.
User experience testing
If your primary product is a mobile app, UXCam can help you unlock user insights from your app usage patterns through a combination of various analytics including screen flow, heatmap, and issue analytics.
As a product manager, UXCam enables you to
- discover usage trends
- find out reasons for drop-offs and uninstalls
- gather UX feedback and propose better solutions for customer issues
- eliminate design bottlenecks
- identify and fix bugs, app crashes, freezes, and other issues
Hotjar is something of a market leader when it comes to digital experience and usability testing.
You can make use of heat mapping and visual session recording to analyze how users are interacting with the product or website, share feedback polls and surveys with the users right from the platform while testing a new feature, dig into funnel analytics for optimizing conversion rates, and also conduct usability testing.
One of the few areas where Hotjar could improve is 360 degree reports. Integrated reports for behavior flow including heat-maps, funnel, and form tracking would go a long way in letting PMs come up with exactly what the users demand.
As far as USPs go, Appcues has a lucrative one — creating stunning in-product experiences without coding. As a result you can create and publish flows within hours if not minutes of signing up. We also like its vast library of resources which has a wealth of actionable tips on user onboarding. You can even get certified if you take any of their free courses on the many aspects of product adoption.
The tool will help you design and customize your user onboarding flow to increase activation, prompt higher engagement, and improve new user retention. Plus you can easily measure the impact of your actions using Insights and custom surveys to find out your NPS (net promoter Scores).
Intercom is not just a user onboarding software. It is one that combines the many functions required for ensuring customer success, even though the marketing functionalities (email design, customizing media in the product onboarding flows etc.) can be pretty limited at times.
Intercom lets you
- engage with customers via text, chat, or email
- send triggered emails
- segment and analyze customer data
- create onboarding tours
- adapt content and delivery of messages/notifications based on user insights
Pro tip: We advise you to connect Intercom to your CRM and set up rules for customer segmentation and filtering to get the most out of it.
Collaboration and productivity
Google Workspace is probably the gold standard for a bundled collaboration app suite across the globe. You get all the tools necessary for collaboration in a single stack — email client (Gmail), file sharing (Google Drive), video meetings (Google Meet), shared calendars, chat, and collaborative documents, spreadsheets, decks etc. This makes communicating and working across different teams and departments much easier for product managers.
As a workplace communication app, the USP of Slack lies in its channels — dedicated spaces that are cordoned off for specific projects, with specific colleagues. PMs can gather all the people and information required for specific project components in one channel, making collaboration a breeze.
It’s quick and handy because PMs can use it to call teammates, text them, share files, and collaborate on projects from a single app.
PMs have to keep track of multiple things at once — switch from your dashboard to your to-do list, from your kanban board to your inbox, from your group chat to your calendar many times a day. Searching for the right information can take up a lot of your productive time.
As a comprehensive knowledge management platform, OSlash simplifies this search and can save you up to 10 valuable hours a week! By letting individuals and teams create simple shortcuts to essential links, it gives the right people access to the right information at the right time. You can easily organize, manage, and share crucial links with teammates without wasting time in the back and forth for information.