Product Management Glossary
Product management is hard! When you’re defining your strategy, wrestling with your product backlog, or analyzing your customer feedback, it’s even harder when you’re not quite sure of the essentials. Don’t worry – we’re here to help you with the basics of product management. You’ll be an expert before you know it!
Let’s tackle some product management essentials and make sure your entire team knows what you mean when you talk about Product.
- A/B Testing
- Acceptance Criteria
- Affinity Grouping
- Agile Product Development
- Agile Sprint
- Alpha Test
- API (Application Programming Interface)
- Backlog Grooming
- Beta Test
- Continuous Discovery
- Cost of Delay
- Customer Feedback
- Customer Churn
- Definition of Done
- Design Sprint
- Eisenhower Matrix
- Feature Flag
- Goal Question Metric Approach
- ICE Scoring
- Impact Mapping
- Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD)
- Kano Model
- Lean Experimentation
- Market Validation
- MoSCoW Prioritization Model
- MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
- Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
- Opportunity Solution Tree
- Portfolio Roadmap
- Product Adoption Curve
- Product Backlog
- Product Differentiation
- Product Discovery
- Product Line
- Product Manager
- Product-Market Fit
- Product Mix
- Product Owner
- Product Portfolio
- Product Portfolio Management
- Product Requirements
- Product Requirements Document
- Product Strategy
- Product Vision
- QA Testing
- RICE Scoring
- Release Planning
- Technical Debt
- User Personas
- User Story
- User Story Mapping
- User Testing
- Value Proposition
- Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)
Acceptance criteria refer to the specific and measurable conditions that must be met in order for a user story to be considered complete and accepted by the product owner or customer. Acceptance criteria define the scope of a user story, helping to ensure that it is delivered according to the requirements and expectations of the stakeholders.
Affinity grouping, also known as affinity diagramming, affinity mapping, or affinity estimation, is a prioritization technique in which a group organizes a wide range of ideas and data into natural relationships. It is essentially a workshop session that can help with identifying the common themes and patterns that emerge from user feedback, customer satisfaction surveys, and employee suggestions.
Agile is an iterative approach to product management that emphasizes flexibility, continuous improvement, and customer satisfaction. The goal of agile is to deliver value to customers as quickly as possible while also being able to respond to changing requirements and feedback.
Agile product development is a methodology that encourages product teams to focus on solving user problems in an iterative way, rather than the traditional waterfall methodology.
An agile sprint is a short period with a concentrated effort to complete certain predetermined goals, with those goals often taking the form of a new, changed, or removed feature within the product being developed.
An alpha test is an early stage of product testing where a small group of testers, usually within the development team or a select group of trusted users, test the product to identify and fix major issues or bugs before moving on to a wider beta test or releasing the product to the public.
An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a set of protocols, routines, and tools for building software applications. APIs define how software components should interact, enabling different systems to communicate and exchange data. They provide a standardized way for developers to access and use the functionality of other software components, allowing for the creation of complex systems and applications.
Backlog grooming, also known as backlog refinement or backlog maintenance, is the ongoing process of reviewing, refining, and prioritizing items in the product backlog to ensure that it remains well-organized, up-to-date, and ready for your team to tackle.
Beta testing allows a user to try a new product or feature in the early stages of development before it is formally released to the market or user base.
A beta test provides a minimum risk test of some software, website, or other digital product. The general idea is to find out more about the product before release by allowing users to access it and then collecting user feedback from them.
Buy-a-Feature is a game-like prioritization framework used in Agile product development, in which stakeholders “buy” features they want implemented, using a limited amount of artificial money.
Continuous discovery is the process of constantly experimenting, learning, and applying what you learn. This kind of discovery helps inform product development decisions. It focuses on what you will be building next with an emphasis on constant feedback and iteration based on that feedback.
Cost of Delay is a prioritization framework used by product managers and development teams to assess the costs associated with delays in the delivery of features or products. It helps product managers to weigh their options with a better understanding of the potential impact of delay.
As a product manager, you constantly receive suggestions from your team and customers about possible improvements for the product. It’s important that you don’t take these as mandates for things you must do, but rather as an opportunity to understand what your users might be struggling with. This is why we recommend you refer to these suggestions as just “feedback” or “customer feedback” (depending on the audience giving you these nuggets.) The terms “customer request” or “feedback request” imply you are requested to build whatever the suggestion might be and add unnecessary pressure. This is where you will be exercising your ability to say no, but nicely.
Customer churn, or logo churn, is the measure of how many of your customers are no longer paying for your product within a specific period. It is normally measured monthly in most SaaS companies. It represents the rate of customer disengagement from your product or service.
DACI stands for Driver, Approver, Contributors, and Informed – it’s a framework designed to bring structure and clarity to the decision-making process by assigning specific roles and responsibilities to the team members involved in a decision.
The Definition of Done (DoD) refers to a set of agreed-upon criteria that must be met before a project, user story, or backlog item is considered complete. These success criteria vary among teams and organizations but typically include requirements like completed coding that meets business and functional requirements, comprehensive testing with no major defects, complete documentation, and readiness for general availability.
A design sprint is a five-day process that helps answer business questions through design, prototyping, and user testing. It is a way to quickly validate if the ideas you are considering are worth moving forward, and if so, how and what that might look like.
A prioritization framework based on establishing what tasks are most important and urgent for you to do, what are either less important or urgent and which are neither and so can be safely ignored.
A feature flag is an ability to turn features on and off in an application so that product teams can experiment and learn. Product teams can use feature flags to decide whether a feature is available for their users – either all users, a proportion of users, or no users. It’s a way of launching a new feature in a controlled way, in order to learn whether it works correctly “in the wild” – i.e. it is valuable and useful for the user base.
The Goal Question Metric approach, or “GQM”, is an approach to software metrics that improve and measure the quality of software.
The ICE Scoring Model is a tool for product management to assess the viability of a product or feature, utilizing three metrics: Impact, Confidence, and Ease.
Impact mapping is a visual product management planning technique that helps teams align their efforts with a clear understanding of the desired outcomes and their impact on an organization or project. It is a visual framework that provides a structured way to connect high-level business goals with actionable tasks.
Product management initiatives represent a key part of your theme-based product roadmap. An initiative represents a broad piece of work that you wish to undertake and can be expressed as a problem to solve.
The Jobs-to-be-Done framework (also called JTBD or Jobs Theory) is based on the idea that customers don’t purchase products or services based on their features or functions, but rather to fulfill a specific job or task. It can be a powerful tool to help you develop a deep understanding of your customers, and to drive innovation.
The Kano model is a prioritization framework that focuses on what will satisfy and delight your customers, and what you need to include in your product to meet their basic needs. It separates your product’s features into five categories based on how customers will react to them and can help you to determine which features are worth investing your resources in.
Product management is all about ensuring your product solves your customer’s real-world problem. Experimentation enables teams to take an MVP and build on it, learning and prototyping as they go.
Market validation is the process of testing a product or service concept with the target market to determine its potential for success before a full-scale launch. It involves gathering early feedback from your potential customers to assess demand, usability, and the value proposition of your product, before committing any significant resources to its development.
The MoSCoW model is a prioritization framework used in agile project management, software development, and product management. MoSCoW stands for Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won’t Have, representing the four categories to which the project requirements or features are assigned.
An MVP is the barest, most minimal version of your product that is functional enough to attract early adopters. While an MVP can show value at its early stage for first adopters, the greatest benefit of building an MVP is to learn what works, and what doesn’t (also known as lean experimentation!). Create a feedback loop and iterate on your MVP to turn it into a product that delights your customers and grows your business.
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are objectives that, if achieved, will bring measurable improvements to your product, service, company, or organization. Each objective is divided into key results which makes it easier for teams to assess their progress as they attempt to achieve their objective.
The Opportunity Solution Tree (OST) is a visual framework used to systematically explore desired business outcomes, potential opportunities, and their corresponding solutions.
It helps to identify the root cause of a problem, analyze possible solutions, and organize a roadmap for implementation.
An outcome, in product management, is how you measure the success of a roadmap initiative against the business or product objectives (OKRs). Where OKRs are long-term objectives, outcomes are short to mid-length goals that can inform the success of the product strategy.
A portfolio roadmap is a tool used by product managers and portfolio managers to visualize and communicate the strategic direction of a portfolio of products. It is a graphical representation that provides a high-level view of the portfolio’s key milestones, strategic goals, and product lines.
A product is any component that requires a vision, strategy, objectives, and a set of outcomes for a team to reach. This could be the actual software of the physical products your company offers, or can even be a team that is treated as a product in order to keep strategy in place.
The Product Adoption Curve is a fundamental concept in marketing and product management that demonstrates how a new product or technology is accepted and adopted by the market over time.
The backlog is a list of items your team may have decided to work on. In product management, it is often recommended that you break this up into a list of potential opportunities (the product backlog) and items already assessed and reviewed, ready to be worked on (the development backlog)
Product differentiation is what makes your product different from your competitors, both in terms of its characteristics, and the strategies you use to encourage and exploit those differences. Common methods include developing unique product features, achieving higher quality or performance, implementing innovative design, or harnessing superior technology.
Product discovery is all about validating your assumptions, identifying the user problems you want to solve, and exploring potential solutions. It’s an essential phase of the product development lifecycle, focusing on understanding user needs, market demands, and your technological capabilities before committing to building a product.
A product line is a group of products that make up a section of your overall portfolio. These products are marketed under the same brand name as the company.
As an example, your company may have multiple product lines such as computers, tablets, and software, which all contribute to the portfolio of products the company may offer.
Often a product line will also be made up of multiple roadmaps, one for each part of the products that may require a separate strategic document. The product line will roll up these multiple roadmaps into a single document known as the product line roadmap. This enables teams to understand cross-functional work and strategy across the product line.
The job of a product manager is to discover market problems, and then define what should be built within their product to solve these problems. Their goal is to improve outcomes for the people who use their product. They must identify those ideas that should provide value for the business, and then help the rest of the business to turn those ideas into reality.
Product-market fit is the validation that your product fulfills a crucial need or solves a significant problem within its specific target market.
Product mix is the term used to refer to the strategic choices, composition, market positioning, and product life cycle stages that make up the entire array of products and services a business offers. It’s not just a collection of random offerings; it represents a deliberate, thoughtful compilation that speaks to the company’s mission, target audience, and the competitive landscape in which it operates.
Being a product manager revolves around setting a strategy and managing the discovery side of the product development process. The specific roles and responsibilities will change based on the growth stage of the product and the company itself. For example, you might start out with a junior product management role and eventually evolve into leading a team. Or, for those who are part of a Scrum environment, you might instead be a product owner.
Product Owner is a role you play on a scrum team. Product manager is the job.Melissa Perri
For more on the history of the product manager role, check out Martin Eriksson’s blog post.
A product portfolio is the umbrella term used to describe a company’s entire collection of products. For a product portfolio to be considered successful, all the products within the portfolio must be profitable and aligned with the overall business strategy.
Product portfolio management (PPM) is the process of orchestrating, managing, and delivering a business’s strategy across its entire product line. It’s about ensuring all the products within the portfolio collectively drive profitability and align with the business’s trajectory.
Product requirements are a set of documents and processes needed to move an idea forward. It usually involves running discovery, analysis, and validation of an idea – then distilling that into specs that will help your development team execute it accordingly.
A product requirements document or PRD is an artifact used to define, in great detail, exactly how a new feature should work. In theory, the PRD introduces certainty and definition which makes it easier to build a solution.
Your product strategy is the path you will take to achieve your vision. Your strategy will often outline things like what your target audience is, what your objectives are, and even what marketing channels you will be focusing on. The information in your strategy informs your roadmap, laying out the problems you aim to solve as you move toward your product vision.
Some well-known documents to help outline your strategy and vision are:
ProdPad provides you with two similar documents. The portfolio and the product canvas are a combination of the three canvases listed above, focused on ensuring you have all the information needed to outline a killer strategy, with added flexibility and customization.
Your company’s product vision is the overall idea of what the organization should be and do, and how it fits within the market as a unique offering. Often set out by the founders, it will include the company’s core values and mission.
Quality Assurance (QA) testing is the ongoing process of ensuring that a product meets established standards of quality and functionality. QA testing is a cornerstone in the development of any software product, aimed at detecting and resolving issues, bugs, or any discrepancies that might affect the user experience or performance of the product
The RICE Scoring framework assists product managers in considering multiple factors when prioritizing features. These factors include the potential impact of a feature, the implementation effort needed, the time frame, and the personal biases of decision-makers.
Release planning is how you establish the playbook for the practical execution of your product strategy. It’s a key process in product management, serving as a bridge between the strategic vision outlined in the product roadmap and the practical steps taken by the development team to bring product updates to market.
A retrospective, often referred to as a ‘retro’, is a structured and collaborative meeting held by product and development teams, particularly in Agile and Scrum methodologies. The purpose is to reflect on a recent period of work and identify opportunities for improvement..
The roadmap is, above all, a communication tool. It is used to describe what you are working on, why you are working on it, and what the benefits of this work are. ProdPad CEO and Co-founder Janna Bastow likes to describe the roadmap as a “prototype for your strategy” – and ProdPad is the home of the Now-Next-Later roadmap!
Roadmapping is the process of creating and maintaining high-level plans and visual representations to guide the development and implementation of products, features, and technologies.
Technical Debt, or Tech Debt, refers to the extra work that needs to be done in the future due to taking shortcuts or compromising on code quality in the present. It occurs when development teams prioritize immediate results at the expense of the long-term effectiveness and maintainability of their code base.
User personas are fictional representations of your test users that help your team understand and empathize with the user for whom they’re building the product.
A user story is a fundamental concept in product management, providing a clear and concise way to describe a piece of functionality from the user’s perspective. The concept is often used in Agile software development and Scrum methodologies to capture requirements and prioritize work.
User Story Mapping is a visual framework used in product management that focuses on prioritizing your ideas based on user experience. It can help you to better understand your users’ needs and priorities and to make prioritization decisions accordingly.
User Testing is part of the continuous delivery and design sprint processes. It involves evaluating products, prototypes, and mockups for real users. This helps you validate that things are moving in the right direction.
Your company’s value proposition is part of your overall strategy. It outlines the value that will be experienced by your market and the unique way in which you solve their problems.
Weighted Shortest Job First is a prioritization technique used in product management that calculates what should be worked on first based on how quickly or easily the job can be done and how much it would cost the business to delay it.