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Product Owners: Tools Are Only Part of the Solution

Tools are important to product teams, but only when they support solid people and processes. So why do delivery teams always jump to tools to solve their problems? I believe the primary reason is that turning to tools appears far easier than fixing your core problems. It’s Neo taking the Blue Pill and going back to sleep. Take the bold step and use your retrospectives to solve the people and processes first, then decide how tools can help support your processes and automate low-value tasks.

Tools are very important to the product owner and delivery teams. In Productplan’s free download “The Product Manager’s Toolkit,” they state, “It’s your skills, not the tools you use, that will make you successful in product management. But just as a lost camper will benefit from having a quality hatchet, product managers can be much more efficient and effective with the right tools.” In the guide, they provide a journey map of the key capabilities used in the product journey and recommended tools for each. This break-out aligns with using tools to support key processes and maintaining a system of record for each type of artifact or asset. Productplan further demonstrates how product management systems of record (e.g. Aha!, ProductPlan, Productboard, Airfocus, Targetprocess, ProdPad, Roadmunk) still need other tools to enable the delivery lifecycle.

Our Take

  • Retrospectives are the gateway to optimizing value and throughput.
  • Focus on people and processes first, then improve tools to deliver additional value.

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