SaaS product development framework is unquestionably at the core of digital businesses' growth engine. According to one research study, exceptional product managers can lead to up to 34% higher profits. SaaS Product Managers (PMs) represent an integral customer group that provides us with invaluable user feedback that allows us to enhance and advance our offering.
What is SaaS Product Management?
End-to-end software management as a service (SaaS), delivered as an internet service instead of being purchased outright, includes planning, developing and scaling its products. SaaS Product Management (or "Go-To-Market") is an integral component of digital product lifecycle processes (e.g; research, strategy development and refinement), so the role of SaaS Product Managers must also include this responsibility.
SaaS Product Managers conduct product research throughout their product's life cycle. When conducting discovery research (generative), SaaS PMs aim to understand problem areas, while when dealing with well-known problem areas, it may require conducting evaluation (discovery).
The generative product development process will enable your product team to uncover unknowns and create the foundation for new product initiatives. Once problem areas have been clearly defined, a SaaS Product Manager may conduct an evaluative analysis.
SaaS Product Management requires comprehensive strategies for implementing product hypotheses and product initiatives. What this entails: A product manager needs to understand which obstacles (competition, resources etc.) impede success and create cost-efficient strategies.
Suppose you act both as project manager and product owner in this instance. In that case, that team feedback must be considered so you don't make shortsighted decisions that comprise a long-term vision for success. An effective current product vision is key to reaching product goals, so establish one as soon as you begin developing strategies and iterating on products.
Internal Company Alignment
SaaS Product Management requires everyone to be on board to succeed. Explaining to colleagues the advantages and disadvantages of a wide range of products or features may prove challenging; without clear communication, employees could struggle to give 110% in every activity without fear that wasting time, effort, or resources occurs due to doing something incorrectly. SaaS Product Management calls for a clear and constant dialogue with internal stakeholders to motivate and inspire them toward optimal productivity.
Collaboration between marketing and product managers is another example. Promo communication may quickly go astray if the marketing team does not understand the function, target audience or intended use of any new feature; unfortunately, this situation happens all too frequently, so ensuring alignment within the company is crucial at any phase of any project.
Product development lies at the core of successful SaaS management. Product development can begin once a strategy and company goals have been determined. How exactly does product development work in practice?
- Initial customer feedback and prototyping with the design team of the proposed solution.
- Specifications made to Software Engineering and Design teams on what needs to happen by the release date for the next version release deadline.
- Time management plays a critical part in meeting those deadlines.
Product management is a critical aspect of SaaS solutions, and product managers must remain focused during this phase to deliver optimal solutions.
SaaS Product Manager Responsibilities
These are the core duties of a SaaS Product Manager:
Shaping the Product Vision and Strategy
Product managers are accountable for shaping the vision for their product by conducting product discovery sessions and speaking to SaaS consulting Experts, in addition to using agile frameworks such as Lean Startup or Product-Market Fit, as well as performing competitive analyses and conducting market and customer research.
SaaS PDMs will create a product roadmap and strategic plan to facilitate the initial phases of custom saas app development. In contrast, product managers' duties consist of aligning all departments around their vision for their products while communicating it to key stakeholders - not to mention making necessary modifications at different points during product life cycles.
Collaboration with Multi-Functional Teams
Product managers serve as an essential link between cross-functional teams. Working closely with members from marketing, engineering, design or data analytics departments, they will share knowledge, answer difficult queries, and explain product strategies while working to resolve issues as quickly as possible.
When redesigning websites for new products, product managers help coordinate efforts across departments to produce a unified final result. They may collaborate with software engineers on user stories, designers on user experience product improvements, marketing experts for content planning purposes, or design agencies on improving UX flow -- among many other departments -- as they achieve this end.
Customer Research and User Testing
SaaS managers conduct in-depth market analysis and facilitate user testing. In contrast, product managers gather market trends information, conduct competitive analyses and study user behavior.
SaaS Product Managers can use this knowledge to run ideation sessions, develop buyer personas or materials, and conduct customer interviews. In these customer meetings, product managers should lead and ensure any research/testing findings, both customer development related and otherwise, are recorded and synthesized accordingly.
Opportunities to Identify and Create
SaaS Product Managers play an essential role in identifying opportunities for expansion and improvement within their SaaS offerings, keeping an eye out on industry trends like AI integration. Product managers must continually seek new methods of increasing value within their offering - let's delve further into SaaS Product Management key concepts and processes.
Understand the Stages of the Product Life Cycle
Product lifecycle management refers to observing their customer journey from conception through development and eventual demise. Product life cycles play a pivotal role in product management since as the product passes from one phase of the lifecycle to the next, so too do roles within that cycle evolve with it.
Traditional life cycles consist of four phases: introduction through growth, maturity and decline. We have adjusted this cycle based on custom SaaS app development experience:
- New Product Development refers to all stages of product conception and creation from inception through implementation, such as concept creation, design implementation and evaluation.
- When first launched on the market, it's known as being "launched."
- Growth occurs once successful market penetration occurs with profits generated, which should be celebrated.
- As soon as a product reaches maturity or stabilization, sales reach their maximum peak level, and potential growth begins to fade away. At that point, sales begin to decrease again and eventually end altogether.
- A product's afterlife refers to what comes after its death, whether that means immediately breaking down into component parts for other products, being used to inspire future designs, or becoming obsolete and abandoned over time.
Saas Product Management: Key Frameworks and Approaches
These concepts and frameworks illustrate some of our company's core approaches when approaching product development and operational management.
Build a Product Roadmap
Product managers hold numerous responsibilities, among them strategic planning. A road map plays a central role in both short and long-term planning for product managers; PDMs use roadmaps as part of both short and long-term plans in setting realistic goals, saving resources, communicating information to other stakeholders and the development team as well as communicating to all relevant parties involved in creating it. A roadmap shows more than tasks and deadlines - it shows where each step in their pipeline sits on the timescale.
Some road maps focus on a range of features, while others focus on time frames or quarterly goals. Your choice will ultimately depend on factors like niche market size, maturity level, and development timeline. We offer our guide for selecting and creating product roadmaps here.
Prioritize Your Feature List and Backlog
Selecting which features to include when creating a roadmap can be one of the toughest challenges. They made sure not to waste their time or resources developing non-essential features. Instead, they filled their roadmaps with ones that added real customer value.
MoSCoW, or Must, Should and Could, has become an indispensable framework for prioritizing SaaS features. Here we explore its application when building product roadmaps - specifically when setting priorities of priority features within a SaaS environment. It stands for "Must," "Should," and "Could," each with their respective priority terms listed alphabetically to prioritize features more easily:
- Must-haves: Priority one in product design should always be on having necessary features integrated. Uber's route-mapping app is an outstanding example of including essential functions in its design.
- Should-haves: Should-haves have secondary importance. Features that are nice but not essential; for instance, Uber allows potential customers to pay with corporate credit cards.
- Could-haves: Could-haves can be added later during custom SaaS app development; Uber's app contains a tip jar feature.
- Won't-haves: Won't-haves refers to features you desire but cannot afford within your current timeframe or budget, like Uber's ride scheduling feature, which was not essential when the service first launched.
Minimum Viable Product
Minimum viable products (MVP) are the cornerstone of agile product development; simply put, they represent product versions with as few features as necessary before being released on the market. Core to Lean Startup Model, an MVP allows companies to rapidly produce working solutions at minimal costs while gathering visual feedback from their loyal customer base.
BRIDGeS was developed as a product framework for decision-making and idea generation, helping professionals explore situations from all angles, create targeted solutions, and reach an overall decision. A productive session typically includes 2-8 participants ranging from product managers, software engineers, current product designers, marketers etc. BRIDGeS stands for Benefits, Risks, Issues, Domain Knowledge, Goals Solutions, which you can add using colored cards on the board.
Lean Canvas can help to rapidly assess product ideas' viability and feasibility before their creation; it serves as an alternative business plan. Lean Canvas gives product managers, startup founders and other stakeholders an efficient method for examining strengths and weaknesses within their business models to minimize launch risks in today's incredibly dynamic markets. However, Business Model Canvas remains popular with more established businesses that wish to test new ideas before entering them into the market.
Lean Canvas, in practice, is an 8-box document. Each box represents different areas: Customer Segments (or segments), Problems (or streams of revenue), Solutions, Unique Value Propositions, Channels, Key actionable metrics, Cost Structure and Unfair Advantage - each section should cover different elements of your offering or structure to ensure you meet customers needs while meeting them all simultaneously. It would be best if you focused in each box section on different aspects of it to stay one step ahead.
Value Proposition Canvas
Value Proposition Canvases provide product managers, startup founders and other stakeholders a way to approach product-market fit more closely. Utilized properly, this tool can assist in understanding user base needs and problems, uncovering ways to increase engagement within an audience segment, and strengthening marketing and branding strategies. The canvas is split into two sections; a traditional square on the left (Value Proposition Segment) and a circular shape on the right side of the canvas (Customer Segment).
Start by filling in the Customer segment of your matrix, listing their jobs, pain points and gains to better define who your customers will be and any positive/negative customer experiences they might have. Next move left where we deal with products: services versus pain relievers can be listed; you should also list any creators or unique benefits offered through products/services to differentiate your offering in comparison with similar offerings in the marketplace.
Data is integral to product strategies and puts great weight on user data to make decisions. SaaS managers recognize this and strive not to shoot blind arrows into darkness. Instead, creating innovative products tailored specifically toward customers is their aim.