Should You Work in Product Operations?

A look at Product Operations and why it might be your next big move

BRIEF

Nature flows and interacts as a system (source)

Product Operations (or Product Ops or ProdOps) systemizes, scales, and empowers the product organization by optimizing processes and enabling strategic decision-making that consistently and efficiently delivers customer value.

  • Basically, we’re talking about letting product leaders do their best work where ProdOps facilitates and adapts to the working environment, making improvements and solving problems along the way.
  • Why it matters. Notice how product manager hiring continues to grow unabated? Hiring demand outpaces the supply of talent (including graduates of interview prep factories), placing added pressure on existing product teams.
  • Is it for you? The prevalence and demand for ProdOps will only grow from here so it’s worth taking a look.

To succeed in this role, you will need a deep understanding of the product management space and demonstrate leadership in the following areas:

You’re a systemizer. Do you have a meticulously organized pantry or garage? Everything is exactly where you’d expect it, appropriately labeled and easily accessible. You don’t believe in creating another process but are looking for ways to reduce friction and simplify, utilizing new tools and best practices, even as more components are thrown into the mix.
You understand needs. You empower others around you because you’re always listening and serve to help others succeed. Whether it’s onboarding and training colleagues or resourcing timely data and market insights, you are a reliable partner who heeds the call. 
You bring people and ideas together. You know how vision, mission, and strategy align on top priorities and bring that shared language across the organization. Always observant, you may notice insights from unexpected places or connect a few dots to reveal a curious pattern. You help bring this perspective, anchored by a data-driven culture, to drive an ethos of teamwork across the organization.
You appreciate craft. Product is about delivering exceptional value for the customer. While software, frameworks, and data are powerful enablers, it is exceptional product leadership that delivers game-changing results. You are inspired by masters of product management and help facilitate the downtime and creative space necessary for them to produce.

That all sounds great, but — product operations hasn't been adopted by the mainstream yet. There are a select number of organizations that are taking the lead and defining the role but, for now, opportunities are limited as companies steadily adapt.

Go in-depth. Explore the topic further from a selection of whitepapers and guides produced by product-led companies and consultancies:

Or, let me make it a little easier for you.
Check out my Toolkit section which includes a comprehensive list of ProOps concepts and resources. I will continue to update this list regularly so keep on eye on it and reach out to share your recommendations.