Product Management Glossary: A Guide for PMs
We created this guide to help individuals, teams and companies answer the question: What is Product Management? If you can successfully understand, articulate and define the goals of a healthy Product Management function then your ability to introduce and optimize Product Management will be dramatically increased. We hope that this guide helps you explain Product Management as a function, clarify roles and responsibilities, understand key deliverables, define core skills and ship some great products!
Agile is a project management and product development approach characterized by iterative development cycles or incremental “sprints.” Agile development can accommodate frequent changes without slowing down the project timeline, helping teams deliver innovative products to customers faster. In contrast to the discrete development phases of the “Waterfall” approach, Agile development encourages feedback. Requirements, plans and test results are continuously evaluated, enabling teams to pivot as needed, and keep pace with changing priorities and customer needs.
An Agile framework outlines a specific approach to planning, managing and executing work related to a project or product development effort. They outline a set organization and workflow patterns to help guide teams as they work within the Agile methodology. Three popular Agile frameworks are Scrum, Kanban, and Extreme Programming (XP).
Agile Product Manager
An Agile Product Manager is responsible for guiding the product development team through Agile development cycles. They must maintain the product vision, solicit and integrate feedback, set product strategy and encourage an Agile approach to product planning, development and execution.
Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)
ARR is a company’s expected annual revenue from customers in exchange for providing them with products and/or services. Unlike revenue from single sale, ARR refers to predictable, stable revenue that’s expected to continue into the future.
Product Management is a critical strategic driver in a company. It can make a huge impact in terms of whether products, as well as the entire company, succeed or fail in both the short and long term. It’s the only role in a company that grasps all aspects of the business, including customers, the market, competition, trends, strategy, business models, and more. As such, great Product Management makes great companies.
A beta plan is a set of tests designed to determine if a completed product fulfills the value proposition that it was designed to deliver. Beta Plans are executed following product development but prior to launch, and requires collaboration between the Product Manager, Product Marketing Manager, Project Manager/Administrator and Engineering team.
A buyer persona is a fictional character that exhibits the characteristics, attributes, demographics, motivations, and preferences as your target customer. Marketers leverage buyer personas to assist with market segmentation and messaging. Buyer personas are based on market research and customer data.
Buyer behavior refers to the actions an individual, group or organization takes prior to deciding to purchase a product or service. It includes all activities related to the evaluation, purchase, use, and disposal of a product or service, and encompasses a customer’s emotions and preferences, and how they impact the decision to buy.
A business case is the justification or reasoning behind initiating a project or activity. In many cases, the business case is formalized in writing or a presentation but can also be communicated verbally.
Certified Product Manager
According to the AIPMM, a Certified Product Manager has completed a set of AIPMM credentials that indicate a thorough understanding of product manager functions and responsibilities. Obtaining these credentials indicates that the individual adheres to standards of excellence in Product Management. Certified Product Managers excel in a wide range of product management skills, including market planning, writing business plans, competitive analysis, product specifications, product launch plans, product lifecycle modeling and management, phase-gate process modeling, product/Market data modeling, and more.
Certified Product Marketing Manager
According to the AIPMM, a Certified Product Marketing Manager has completed a set of AIPMM credentials that indicate a thorough understanding of the product marketing functions and responsibilities. Obtaining these credentials indicates that the individual adheres to standards of excellence in Product Marketing Management. Certified Product Marketing Managers excel in strategic and tactical marketing functions throughout a product’s lifecycle and are proficient at creating and executing the marketing plan and budget, marketing deliverables and campaigns, assessing the marketplace and competition through research and analysis, and translating insights into business opportunities.
Chief Product Officer
The Chief Product Officer (CPO), sometimes called “Head of Product,” heads up the product department, is responsible for the product discipline, and acts as a strategic leader and visionary for an organization’s product team. As part of the executive team, the CPO’s goal is to facilitate the development of products that deliver value to customers and the business.
Churn, sometimes referred to as attrition, refers to the rate at which customers stop doing business with a company.
A competitor or competitive analysis is the process of identifying companies that offer products and/or services similar to yours and conducting an analysis of their relative strengths and weaknesses. It involves assessing competitors’ products, services, and sales and marketing tactics and strategies to identify opportunities for your business to differentiate your offerings.
In product development, continuous deployment is an engineering approach in which new features and functionalities are delivered frequently through automated deployments.
A cross-functional or “multidisciplinary” team is made up of people from different business units or functional areas of an organization. For example, a cross-functional team may include people from marketing, engineering, operations, and customer service.
Customer retention is a company’s ability to attract repeat business and retain customers over time. A high customer retention rate indicates a product or service is in demand and satisfying customer needs. A low retention rate indicates a need to refine the product, service or strategy to better meet customer needs. In essence, customer retention is a metric that helps to measure customer loyalty, which is important, because the cost of acquiring new customers is much higher than retaining existing customers.
Customer Advisory Board
A customer advisory board or product advisory counsel is a group of customers that an organization invites to meet on a regular basis and provide insights and feedback about the company’s products, services, roadmap and go-to-market strategy. Members are often executives in their companies. Most customer advisory boards have 10-12 members, each bringing unique backgrounds and perspectives to the table.
Customer validation is an essential part of product development. The validation process tests assumptions and hypotheses about the customer problem, target market, and product attributes, and enables teams to gather evidence for a product’s potential market success before investing too much money in development.
Customer Journey Map
A customer journey map tells the story of your customer’s experiences with a brand across all channels throughout the customer lifecycle. It’s often visual in nature, providing business leaders insights into customer pain points and helping to fine-tune the customer experience.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
CAC is the amount of money required to attract and convert a new customer. It’s used to help companies measure the return on investment on their customer acquisition efforts and includes the cost of all time, resources, and materials used in the process.
In Agile development, the daily Scrum is a 15-minute event during which a product development team synchronizes activities and creates a plan for the next 24 hours.
Design thinking represents the cognitive, strategic, and practical processes used to come up with design concepts for development. It involves problem-solving based on prioritizing customer needs, and leverages an iterative approach that spans five phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.
In Product Development, differentiation refers to what makes a product or service different from a competitor’s product or service. It helps the product or service stand out to the target audience and increase brand loyalty. Achieving differentiation requires introducing unique or distinctive characteristics, features, or capabilities that add value.
Digital transformation is the process of integrating digital technologies into various areas of the business to improve the way the business operates and deliver additional value to customers. The goals for digital transformation include improving operational efficiency, enabling rapid innovation, improving the customer experience, and reducing costs. Four target areas for digital transformation are technology, data, process, and organizational change.
Digital Product Manager
A Digital Product Manager oversees the digital product lifecycle, from inception through development and market launch. They are responsible for driving market success of digital products, such as SaaS offerings, websites, apps, and tools.
In Agile product development, an “epic” is a large amount of work that can be broken down into smaller pieces called “stories.” Epics help product teams organize tasks and prioritize activities throughout product development. Epics can span across sprints, teams, and projects.
A product feature is a piece of functionality a product offers that delivers a benefit or value to the customer.
A feature flag, or feature toggle, is a software engineering technique that’s used to turn functionality on or off during runtime, without having to deploy new code. This enables software companies to gradually roll out new features or fix bugs without having to redeploy the software. Using feature flags streamlines development and enables teams to roll back code when needed, quickly and easily.
The Go-to-Market (GTM) strategy is an organization’s plan to deliver a product to market in a way that’s intended to achieve competitive advantage. It includes numerous tactics and activities, including defining pricing, branding, messaging, marketing campaigns, sales outreach, channel distribution, and more.
In Agile development, an iteration represents a single development cycle. It’s a small section of the overall planning and development process that enables development teams to gain insights and feedback that help guide the next step in product development.
According to ISO TC 279, innovation is “a new or changed entity realizing or redistributing value.” In other words, it’s the process of applying a new idea or set of ideas that result in the introduction of new products or services, or improve existing products or services, adding value by enabling new solutions to a problem or market need.
In Product Development, integration refers to combining smaller components or separate systems into a single system that functions as a whole. Links between the two components enable data to be shared, with the goal of providing enhanced functionality and value for customers.
Jobs to be Done (JTBD)
JTBD is a framework that helps organizations understand the jobs customers are trying to get done by using your product or service. It’s the starting point for innovation and product strategy, and the basis for the product roadmap. Consider it a lens through which you view and observe your market, your customers and their needs, and your competitors.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
KPIs are quantifiable measurements that help you evaluate the success of an organization, or its products and services. Examples of KPIs include customer lifetime value, customer satisfaction score, or revenue per customer. KPIs should be defined in alignment with a company’s business goals and objectives.
Lifetime Value (LTV)
The Customer’s LTV represents the amount of revenue a customer will deliver to an organization over the course of the business relationship.
Adapted by Ash Maurya from Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas, Lean Canvas is a one-page business plan that helps to deconstruct a business idea into key assumptions, to help teams validate their ideas. Lean Canvas is intended for use by startup companies.
Lean Product Development
Lean product development is a methodology that focuses on a lean approach to developing products, with the goal of reducing waste, accelerating market delivery, and increasing customer value.
A market is a place where buyers and sellers come together to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. It comprises systems, institutions, processes, and procedures, and the infrastructure in which such exchanges can take place.
Marketing Plan (Template)
A marketing plan provides a high-level view of the tactics and strategies used to deliver a product to market. It includes a strategic roadmap that the business can use to organize, execute, and track its GTM strategy over time.
The market validation process helps determine if there’s a need for a product in the target market. It’s the process of validating a product or business idea to gauge whether the target audience will like the product and want to purchase it.
Market Requirements Document (MRD)
The MRD is a document that outlines customer requirements for a particular product or service. It may contain information about the product’s vision, the competitive landscape, a business analysis and market opportunity, as well as a high-level overview of key features and capabilities.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
An MVP is a version of a product in development that has just enough features to be introduced to the market and used by early customers. The MVP helps teams collect feedback for future development cycles, and it also serves to validate customer needs prior to investing in developing a full-featured version of the product.
Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
MRR is a calculation of predictable total revenue generated by your business from all the active subscriptions over the period of one month.
In product development and manufacturing, a mockup is a scaled down or full-size model of a product or service for use in design evaluation, promotion, or other purposes. It may be a prototype that includes part of the functionality of the finished product.
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
OKRs provide a framework for collaborative goal setting and defining measurable outcomes. Teams use OKRs to align teams around goals, and measure and report on their progress toward accomplishing them.
Product positioning is the process of defining where a product or service stands in relation to other competitive offerings in the marketplace and in the minds of consumers. It helps to establish the image or identity of a brand or product to shape consumer perceptions.
Prioritized Product Backlog
In Agile development, the product backlog is a prioritized list of work derived from the product roadmap and requirements document, with the most critical items at the top. The product backlog helps teams understand and align on what to work on first.
A pricing strategy is a model for establishing the best possible price point for a product or service, in order to maximize profits while meeting customer demand. Pricing strategies consider the consumer’s ability to pay, market conditions, and competitor pricing, as well as costs associated with developing and distributing the product.
Simply put, a product is an item, service, or system that a business sells to satisfy a customer’s need or want.
Product adoption describes the extent to which a target user becomes aware of and uses a product. Once they discover the product’s value, product adoption may expand as they begin using more features and capabilities.
Product-market fit is the degree to which a product or service addresses a need or solves a problem for the target market.
A product launch describes all of the plans and activities around bringing a new product or service to market. It’s a multidisciplinary endeavor with the goal of making a product generally available for purchase. A product launch encompasses activities leading up to the product’s market introduction, the introduction itself, and how the product performs in the months that follow.
Product Life Cycle (PLC)
The PLC represents the time period between introducing a product to market and removing it from a portfolio offering. It consists of four stages: Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Decline. Product Managers use the PLC to make decisions about advertising investments and timing, pricing, packaging design, growth and channel strategies, target audiences, and other key factors involved in marketing and selling a product.
Product-Led Growth is a model focused on the end-user that relies on a product itself to drive customer acquisition, conversion, and expansion. In the Product-led Growth model, the product becomes a marketing channel, allowing customers to try it out, assess its value, purchase the product, and tell others about it, without the traditional interaction with a salesperson or a marketing campaign.
A product strategy is a high-level plan for a product that defines what a business wants to achieve with the product and how it will accomplish those goals.
Product Ops is short for Product Operations and refers to the operational function in an organization that facilitates communication between various teams involved in product development, including product, engineering, customer success, and others. The job of Product Ops is to help these teams work together effectively and reduce friction that could delay product development.
The Product Manager is responsible for delivering a differentiated product to market that addresses a market need and represents a viable business opportunity. A key component of the Product Manager role is ensuring that the product supports the company’s overall strategy and goals. They are responsible for managing the product throughout its lifecycle and working with designers, developers, quality assurance engineers, supply chain and operations experts, manufacturing engineers, Product Marketing Managers, Project Managers, sales professionals, and others to make that happen.
Product Marketing Manager
The Product Marketing Manager is responsible for creating demand for products through effective positioning, messaging and marketing programs. They must be experts at marketing and market strategy, and able to collaborate with the Sales team to generate revenue from the product. Launch plans and marketing campaigns are key deliverables for this role.
Your Product Vision describes the essence of a product, including the problems it solves, the target audience, and the product-market fit. It provides the product development team with a broader understanding of the overarching, long-term mission for the product and the ultimate purpose behind their work.
Product differentiation is the process of distinguishing a product or service from competitive offerings. It includes identifying features, functionality, and capabilities that set the product apart in the market and makes it more appealing to the target audience.
Product Management is the function within an organization responsible for a product’s overall success. Product Managers work with groups inside and outside of the company to build and execute a plan to make sure the product best meets its financial and strategic goals. Their role encompasses business justification, planning, verification, forecasting, pricing, product launch, and marketing of a product or products at all stages of the product lifecycle.
Product End of Life (EOL) Plan
The EOL plan is put in place when a product is retired from the market. Retirement can involve completely pulling the product from the market without replacing it or, in many cases, replacing it with a new version.
In Agile product development, a product backlog is a prioritized list of deliverables – a to-do list of sorts – and is considered an “artifact” within the Scrum framework. The product backlog helps teams decide how to proceed with their work to best meet the needs of customers.
Profit and Loss Statement
A profit and loss (P&L) statement is a financial document that shows a company’s revenue and expenses over a specific time period, usually a fiscal year.
Quality assurance is the process of determining whether a product or service meets standards for quality and usability, to avoid problems that may arise from a low-quality product being delivered to customers.
In Product Development, release management is the process of planning, scheduling, managing, and deploying product releases. The goal is to ensure that a product release is delivered efficiently while meeting business objectives and maintaining integrity of the production environment.
Return on Investment (ROI)
ROI is a performance metric that measures the difference between what a company has invested in a particular project, product, or service and its value to the organization.
A market or target segment is a group of consumers who share one or more characteristics, such as industry, role, age, gender, lifestyle, or others. Product and marketing teams typically create segments within their target audience in order to market and sell to them more effectively.
In the Scrum framework for Agile product development, sprint planning encompasses activities around kicking off a sprint. During sprint planning, teams define the objectives, deliverables, and schedule for the sprint, as well as what product backlog items will be worked on during the sprint.
In Agile product development, a sprint goal is the specific and measurable objective for a sprint. Determined by the Product Owner and development team, it describes what you plan to achieve during the sprint.
In Agile product development, a sprint cycle is a time-boxed period during which the development team works toward a sprint goal. As part of the process of continuous development, sprint cycles are typically two to four weeks in duration, and when one ends, another begins.
In Agile product development, the sprint review is a working session during which the development team gathers actionable feedback on work completed during a sprint.
The final step of a sprint, the sprint retrospective, is an opportunity for the Scrum team to evaluate itself and the work completed during a sprint and devise a plan to implement improvements during the next sprint.
A stakeholder is any person or group of people who may be impacted by the activities or decisions of an organization or team within the organization.
A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning and management technique used to help a business identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in relation to the competition. It can also be used for strategic short- or long-term business planning.
Total Addressable Market (TAM)
TAM is a metric that represents the revenue opportunity and potential for a product or service. Defining the TAM helps businesses prioritize opportunities and activities and narrow their focus about which market segments to target.
In software product development, technical debt refers to the implied cost of rework that results when a team places more importance on development speed over quality. Similar to monetary debt, technical debt can accumulate “interest” if not addressed, which makes it more difficult to implement necessary changes over time.
In Agile product development, a user story is an informal description of the features of a product and represents an end goal from the user’s perspective.
A use case describes how an end user will use your product or service. A single product may have multiple use cases.
A UX designer focuses on the user experience, with the goal of making a product or service accessible and enjoyable to use. UX designers care about the design, usability, function, and presentation of a product or service, and are interested in optimizing the user experience with the product or service.
A value proposition is a promise made by a business to its customers about the value its product or service will deliver to a particular market segment.
Voice of Customer (VoC)
Voice of the Customer (VoC) is both a process of gathering customer feedback and information about customers’ perceptions about a brand, product or service, as well as the body of feedback itself. It describes how customers think and feel about their experiences with a business and its offerings.
A value proposition is a promise made by a business to its customers about the value its product or service will deliver to a particular market segment.
The Waterfall methodology is an approach to Project Management that takes a linear progression from beginning to end. It depends on careful planning and detailed documentation. In Waterfall, tasks are executed sequentially in phases, including conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, deployment, and maintenance. Each phase is dependent on the previous phase, unlike the Agile methodology, which is characterized by iterations and flexibility.
The Whole Product concept is an adaptation of Harvard Business School professor Ted Levitt’s total product concept. Whole Product is centered around the fact that consumers purchase everything they need to get a job done, and not just the core product.