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3 methods of evaluating product ops

 

One of the biggest questions asked about product ops is - how do you know it's working? This question is correct and important, we need to measure product ops activities to know how the get the most out of the function. 

The main objective 

Product ops is a supporting function created to empower existing product teams, increase their performance and job satisfaction. 

You need to keep that goal in mind when designing the evaluators for your product ops team. 

Knowing what you want to achieve with product ops, you can select a way to judge whether your product ops deliver the results you want. Here are some of the possible methods you can use to evaluate product ops performance. 

Method 1: Outputs

Depending on when you've hired product ops you might have very concrete things in mind for them to tackle. If you are a startup entering a growth stage you might not have enough PMs on board, no processes for them to follow, no or some tools to make data-informed decisions. Hence one way you can use to evaluate the usefulness of product ops is a simple output-based checklist. 
  • Product hiring needs identified and approved
  • Product team hired and onboarded
  • Product process described and communicated around the org
  • Needed tools acquired and implemented
  • People trained to use tools and processes 
  • Discovery and delivery processes are exercised and actively used
  • Product people professional development plans are created and approved
  • Regular mentorship is implemented and used 
This or any similar checklist will provide you with a simple and practical way to evaluate your product ops function. Obviously, you'd want to adapt it according to your circumstances and needs. 

Method 2: Main KPIs

Looking at the previous method you can say: it's all good but how about my business, how can product ops help me achieve my vision? And you are correct. Product ops is there to support your business, increase productivity and knowledge within the organisation. That's why you need to take into account your main KPIs when evaluating product ops. 

Assuming you were tracking your main KPIs before the product ops function was created, you should see your main indicators growing as product ops people do their thing. The tricky bit here is when to evaluate based on main KPIs? You need to give your product teams and product ops time to identify the needed changes, design and execute experiments, get and implement the results, practice and deliver in a new way. Only then you can see your main indicators moving. For every business and product, these timeframes will be varied. One principle remains though: if you created product ops, given it enough time and opportunity to act but your business outcomes are not moving in the desired direction - you might need to look deeper into this issue. 

Method 3: Job satisfaction

Product ops exist to empower product teams and help them do their best work. Naturally then, we need to make sure our product teams are getting happier work-wise. It is highly advisable to measure the satisfaction of your cross-functional product teams before and after the introduction of product ops. 

You can do that using eNPS method or any other feedback mechanism. Ideally, you want to see job satisfaction improving with the help of product ops. Your product teams should have all the tools, data and expertise needed to do their best work. They need to have up-to-date and real professional development plans as well as access to mentors, relevant education and organisational support. 

3-in-1

You probably guessed by now that to have a good picture of your product ops performance you need to combine all three methods. Yes, you need to know their outputs, how those affected your main KPIs and whether your product team's job satisfaction has improved. 

Don't be too fanatical about the attribution. As a business owner or CEO, you want your bottom line to improve, you want to grow, to delight your customers and shareholders. If those things are happening - you can attribute at least some of the praise to your product ops team. Similarly, if things don't go too well - it's everyone's issue, including product ops. 

If you treat your product ops as partners and work side by side, you'd definitely see the benefits they can provide for your product and your business. 

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