Most new products entering the market struggle to survive. However, successful firms — from giants like Google and Amazon to startups like Airbnb and Spotify — are known for consistently rolling out great products. That doesn’t happen by accident. Product management makes the difference.
Effective product management frameworks offer companies the foundation for building successful products or services on repeat. If you’re an aspiring product manager, the knowledge of frameworks is essential to your career.
In this guide, we will dive into the basics of the product management framework, top frameworks that billion-dollar companies use, and round off with some quick tips on how to select the right framework.
What is the Product Management Framework?
Product management is one of the most critical parts of a successful product development process. Deciding what to build, identifying customer needs, managing a product’s lifecycle, from development to execution, and delivering excellence — are all parts of product management. Effective product management is essential for a successful product development process. It helps to ensure that your product matches customers’ needs, all resources are optimally used, and your business benefits the utmost.
A product management strategy framework is a set of procedures that can help a company develop a product following its timelines, budgets, and business objectives. Product management prioritization frameworks help product managers determine whether an initiative is worth pursuing and provide guidelines on opportunity evaluation, prioritization, and requirements determination.
Why Do Companies Adopt Product Management Frameworks?
Product management works at the junction of business, technology, and user experience (UX) design. It is an essential function in an organization. A company’s prospects look bleak without an effective product development team delivering a great product that customers are prepared to buy and use.
Take a look at the main reasons why companies adopt product management frameworks:
Build a Potentially Successful Product
A product management process framework provides precise guidelines for creating a great product or service offering. Using the framework, product managers gain a good understanding of the market and customer requirements. This significantly boosts the chances of success and reduces the risks of failure.
Organize Every Step of Product Management Smoothly
The duties of a product manager are extensive — not only turning a product idea into reality but also managing crucial business indicators, establishing strategic goals, communicating with users, etc. A good product management framework will take through every phase of the product lifecycle and unify these duties.
Product Management is an important driver of strategy and revenue in an organization. So, improving product management by integrating a practical product management strategy framework can be hugely profitable.
Top 20 Product Management Frameworks Used by Leading Companies
Here’s our list of the top 20 product management frameworks. We have researched product management prioritization frameworks of some of the most successful companies to compile this list.
1. Minimum Viable Product
This framework emphasizes that you can develop a high-quality product by studying customer feedback. At first, a basic product is developed for testing, introduced to the users, and customer feedback reviewed. Future improvements to the product are decided based on the feedback received.
2. Working Backward
Amazon uses the Working Backward product management framework, which involves the reverse approach to the product development process. The product management team starts by imagining the finished product is already built to identify whether it meets customer requirements. A press release announces the product and the solutions it offers. If the leadership team approves the product’s viability, the press release is used as a roadmap for product development.
This is one of the primary product management frameworks where the product is like a story with a beginning, body, and end. The beginning involves finding target users and ensuring that the product is viable. The body is the acceptance of the product concept and its introduction into the market. The end is the result you get in terms of profits or customer growth.
4. Squads (Think It, Build It, Ship It, Tweak It)
Spotify uses the Squads framework, which consists of small, cross-functional teams empowered to work on projects of their choice. The teams are autonomous, yet aligned, and follow a model of — Think It, Build It, Ship It, Tweak It — to deliver a great product at minimal risk and operation cost.
Typeform’s Two Equal Parts product management strategy framework consists of an initial part focusing on product discovery, including identifying problems, finding solutions, and validating solutions with the testable product. The latter part focuses on delivery which consists of scope, execution, measurement, and iteration.
6. Product Growth
Growth is one of Shopify’s product management prioritization frameworks. Its aim is not only building a product but also growing the adoption of the product. The product growth framework is easy to adapt and involves multiple steps to develop product growth competency.
7. North Star Framework
Amplitude introduced this framework, which is based on the North Star Metric, which is a measurement that captures the core value delivered by your product to your customers. It is a crucial measure of the product team’s success in an organization and is driven by several key inputs that help drive the metric.
8. Business Model Canvas
Business Model Canvas is one of the product management frameworks that pinpoints how the product team will create value and reduces the product development cycle. Businesses of every size adopt this framework to describe and understand their business models more efficiently.
The Kano product management strategy framework helps product teams to prioritize their work according to those features that are most likely to fascinate customers. Each idea is ranked according to its chances of delighting customers and its implementation cost.
10. Weighted Scoring
The Weighted Scoring prioritization framework provides guidelines to rank product initiatives according to the basic cost-vs.-benefit criteria. Scores are created for every criterion, like ‘increase revenue’ categorized under benefits and ‘implementation effort’ under costs.
11. Job To Be Done
The Job To Be Done (JTBD) framework focuses on identifying user requirements depending on scenarios instead of personas. JTBD focuses on the customers rather than the product and helps to understand customer thought processes clearly, including the ‘job’ they would require your product to do.
This framework offers organizations a fun way to prioritize tasks on product initiatives. Each competing action is assigned a price. A group of participants is given a hypothetical amount, asking them to spend the money on purchasing features they’d like most to see in the product.
13. Opportunity Scoring
Using this model, product teams can assess which features, according to customers, are essential to the product and also which feature they find unacceptable. Customers rank the features according to their preference, and features that score high in importance represent the opportunity to realize a strong return on investment.
14. RICE Prioritization
Developed by Intercom, the simple RICE Prioritization framework evaluates product ideas based on four factors – Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. For each initiative, a final score is generated based on these factors. The initiatives are then ranked based on final scores, which indicate their relative values to the product and organization.
15. MoSCoW Analysis
The MoSCoW prioritization framework is usually used to help stakeholders understand each initiative’s importance. Initiatives are grouped into categories:
a) M represents the “must-have” items – these are non-negotiable needs that are essential for the team.
b) S for “should-haves – these are important initiatives that add significant value although they are not critical.”
c) C is the “could-have initiatives” (or nice-to-have initiatives that will have a slight impact if left out)
d) W represents the “will not have” items rated low priority for this specific time frame.
DIGS is a product management interview framework that helps understand behavioral questions and emphasizes building ‘higher stakes.’ The abbreviation stands for:
a) Dramatize the problem
b) Indicate alternatives
c) Go through the solutions
d) Summarize your product concept
A popular framework method by Lewis Lin, CIRCLES is a set of procedures needed to make a complete, careful response to a product design. The abbreviation serves as a checklist to:
a) Comprehend the situation
b) Identify the customer
c) Report customer needs
d) Cut through prioritization
e) List solutions
f) Evaluate tradeoffs
g) Summarize recommendation
18. Design Sprint
This 5-step product management process framework is based on design thinking. The method aims to reduce risks associated with any product launch. The product team comes together to understand, design, prototype, and validate ideas before launching a product or feature. The framework is excellent for quickly identifying critical problems and developing and testing the solutions.
19. GIST Planning
This product management framework is named after factors required to guide agile planning and execution. The GIST factors are Goals, Ideas, Step-Projects, and Tasks. The method aims to create products and solutions that are laser-focused on organizational goals. The goal is to reduce management overhead, improve team autonomy, and expedite development.
a) Goal setting in GIST is the top-level objectives for the organization that provide the reason and justification for any action taken.
b) Ideas are possible ways of reaching the desired goals.
c) Step-project concept involves breaking down an idea into several smaller experiments that are assessed multiple times to determine merits for further investment of time and effort into the idea.
d) Tasks comprise the most granular level of the GIST framework. When product features and enhancements are broken down into smaller pieces, the product team can finish them at the earliest.
20. The 5 Es
The 5 Es framework is a customer journey map that shows the step-by-step process of a customer’s experience. Product managers, designers, and engineers can use this framework to assess how customers interact with your product and create a successful development strategy for improvement.
The 5 Es are:
a) Entice – to understand customer needs. What event triggers customers to enter into the UX funnel?
b) Enter – to determine how the customer reaches the product. This includes the first few steps in the UX funnel.
c) Engage – what job is the customer trying to accomplish? How user-friendly your product is.
d) Exit – this stage determines how easily the user completes the task. Were there any obstacles the user faced while solving the problem with your product?
e) Extend – What follow-up actions to take after the user performs the task? At this stage, you should consider how to retain users once they have satisfied their requirements with your product.
Selecting the Right Product Management Framework
Product management frameworks will help you consistently create and deliver great products. With numerous options available, selecting the right product management framework may seem overwhelming.
However, it mostly boils down to the nature of the product and the company developing it. Every organization has different product management needs, based on its size, product development, and culture. The right framework should meet those needs.
The first step to deciding on the right product management framework for your business is identifying your needs, goals, and vision. With that in mind, factor in the product’s maturity and your preference. Try a few frameworks to see what ticks all your boxes.
Upskill For a Rewarding Career in Product Management
Product management frameworks play a big role in the creation of successful products. They streamline the product development process by bringing the strategy, roadmap, and features together so the team can prioritize and make faster decisions. Therefore, for a product manager, the understanding of the most widely-used frameworks (like the ones we discussed above) is a part of their repertoire.
Whether you want to break into a product management role or advance into senior roles, upskilling is your key to growth. Consider a program such as the online product manager bootcamp from University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.
Master top product management skills in six months and get professionally certified in Product Management from the University of Minnesota. Other benefits include capstone projects and excellent networking opportunities with product leaders from top companies. Enroll now!