New products and services are the lifeblood of any business. From generating product ideas to creating a product roadmap, the role of product management is critical in any organization wanting to stay competitive in the market.
But successful product ideation and execution doesn't just depend on product management. In recent years, the concept of BizOps (Business Operations) has made its way to the forefront of business transformation, product management included.
Many organizations have embraced BizOps as an integral part of their product strategy, but what makes it different from product management?
In this article, we’ll unpack the key differences (and similarities) and show you how someone in product management can transition into a BizOps role.
What is BizOps?
As organizations become more complex, traditional silos between departments are falling apart. Teams need to be cross-functional to succeed, and this is most clearly seen between development teams and business units.
So how do we bridge the gap between product development teams and business units—like sales, marketing, and customer success?
The high-level mandate for BizOps is to focus on driving value through improved operational efficiency.
What this translates into is a deep understanding of business problems and opportunities. BizOps practitioners need to have insight into all areas of the business, not just one unit.
With this understanding, they create organizational structures, processes, and tools to measure and optimize outcomes.
For example, at an early stage company, this could look like implementing a customer support ticketing system, running analytics to identify the most prevalent issues, and then coordinating with the Product team to address them.
BizOps roles often require a wide range of skills, including technical, business, and analytical expertise, as well as leadership and change management.
What is Product Management?
Product management is a discipline within most modern businesses that focuses on creating products that satisfy both business objectives and user needs. It involves various activities, such as market research, pricing formulation, and user experience.
Product management teams, led by a Product Manager (PM), handle the overall product strategy, roadmap, and experience creation, from customer research and opportunity discovery to product launch. They work with engineers to develop features and functionality, ensure quality assurance throughout the product’s lifecycle, and collaborate with other departments to identify areas of improvement.
Traditionally, Product Managers typically have experience in engineering and product design, but nowadays, you’ll find a wide variety of backgrounds.
“Great software companies have proven that effective PMs don’t need to be overly technical - and in reality, there isn’t a single professional designation or universal education path to becoming a Product Manager. Some of the common backgrounds I’ve seen are UX design (I started my path as a UX design co-op), consulting, and MBA studies. The more unique backgrounds I’ve seen are customer success and marketing (fitting as these folks are skilled at understanding user needs, communication, design, etc.) Two of the best product leaders I’ve worked with were lawyers by training (adept at parsing lots of data to make sound arguments within a specific framework - sounds like a PM skill to me).”
Regarding skills, Product Managers need strong leadership and communication skills to ensure that all stakeholders involved in the development process collaborate effectively.
Aside from this, they must be able to understand complex customer problems, develop user stories and use cases that illustrate how customers will interact with a product, and grasp the technical details of product development.
What is the Difference Between BizOps And Product Management?
Both disciplines involve working with stakeholders to identify customer needs, designing solutions that meet those needs and executing plans to deliver products that customers love and drive the business forward.
However, there are important differences between the two:
Product vs. Process
Product management sets the overall strategy for the product, which is all about understanding customer needs and creating features that meet those needs. It’s more specific and tactical than BizOps as it focuses on guiding the product through its development lifecycle to create the best possible product for customers.
“Product Managers are about bringing better products to market, meaning it is focused on figuring out (1) what problem the product solves, (2) what the product should do, and (3) who the product is for,” comments Brandon Chu, General Manager of Platform at Shopify, when asked about the difference between BizOps and product management.
A role in BizOps, on the other hand, emphasizes process optimization, as it involves leveraging data and technology to optimize customer experiences and maximize business performance. Sujay Seetharaman, Chief of Staff at PipeCandy, shares that a common responsibility of BizOps professionals is identifying and implementing “potential automations to cut down manual efforts” within a company.
“Business operations managers are focused on optimizing how those products are created and brought to market. This could mean more efficient and effective product development and better sales practices,” adds Chu.
Customer vs. Business
While both disciplines aim to increase customer satisfaction, boost revenue, and drive business growth, their end customers differ slightly.
Product management focuses on creating a product that resonates with customers, which makes it more customer-centric as it involves understanding user needs and designing features based on those insights.
BizOps, on the other hand, is more focused on improving organizational performance, which encompasses understanding customer behavior and leveraging data to analyze and optimize existing processes and create new ones as needed.
As Deanna Sinclair, Head of Operations at Polly, puts it, “Product management relates directly to the product itself, having a lot of awareness and understanding of the lifecycle journey of the customer. In BizOps, your client is the business itself, and you are constantly analyzing and refining the business journey.”
Scope and Control
While product management is solely responsible for the product’s success, BizOps has a larger scope as it involves working with various stakeholders to ensure that processes are aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives (although BizOps is not a growth function alone).
“BizOps is focused on building the tools, involving the right resources, and making sure the processes and flow of work across the organization make sense,” shares Tobey Wyatt, BizOps Consultant at Motherlode Consulting.
On the other hand, product management has complete autonomy over a product, as it involves designing the entire product roadmap, from understanding customer requirements and researching competitive landscapes to prioritizing features based on user feedback and market trends.
Are Product Management Skills Transferable to BizOps?
A strong background in product management can be a great asset for someone looking to transition into BizOps. Individuals with product management experience and skills are well-versed in product development, which requires understanding the customer’s needs and translating those requirements into product features and benefits.
Since BizOps has been previously described as “product management for your business model,” most of the skills and knowledge used in product management overlap with those needed in a BizOps role. Some of them are:
- Project management
- Data analysis and visualization
- Strategy and development
- Problem-solving and critical thinking
- Excellent communication and collaboration
Someone with product management experience can contribute to BizOps by applying their knowledge of customer needs and competitive environments, as well as leveraging their expertise in agile product development methodologies.
In addition, knowledge of business metrics like customer acquisition costs (CAC) and customer lifetime value (LTV) comes in handy when working on BizOps initiatives, such as reducing operating costs and monitoring business performance.
Start Your Career In BizOps By Joining The BizOps Network
As product management focuses on delivering customer value, BizOps strives to create a more efficient product journey to boost overall productivity, scalability, and performance.
If you're ready to be a part of the BizOps revolution, the Bizops Network is an ideal place to learn the ropes and get your career started.
The BizOps Network is a private online community of professionals who are passionate about driving business outcomes through innovative strategies and tactics. As members, you can access exclusive resources such as frameworks and playbooks, workshops and development tracks, and mentorship sessions.
Make your way to BizOps with the BizOps Network!