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Like their sales and marketing colleagues, product managers are searching for new tools to help them use data better, particularly in order to create more customer-focused products, states a new field guide and infographic by SiriusDecisions.

The infographic – Product Management Tools and Technology Study 2015 – gives a snapshot of the tools and technologies product managers are using today, while the field guide – Product Planning, Prioritization and Roadmapping 2015 – provides businesses with criteria they should consider when evaluating product management tools, as well as profiles 11 leading vendors against those criteria. 

“Product managers see their colleagues in sales and marketing becoming much more automated,” said Lisa Singer, research director for SiriusDecisions.

“They’re keeping their ears to the ground for tools that are going to help them understand the data, too. These tools allow them to grab hold of the data like their colleagues to better understand their customers, better understand their users, and better understand the ecosystems their products are working in.” 

Unhappy with Current Tools

The infographic shows that most product managers are not taking advantage of the efficiencies that come with using software specific to their needs for product roadmapping and product requirements. 

So, what are they using?

For product roadmaps, managers are working with presentation software (30 percent), spreadsheet software (23 percent) and agile-oriented project management applications (16 percent).

For product requirements, most product managers use agile-oriented project management applications (40 percent), while 26 percent use word processing applications, and 12 percent spreadsheets. 

Further, the percentages of those who indicated they are “very satisfied” with their current tools are very low: 

  • Only 12 percent of presentation software users, 10 percent of agile application users and 4 percent of spreadsheet users are very satisfied with these tools for product roadmapping
  • For product requirements, 18 percent of agile application users, 10 percent of word processing users and 5 percent of spreadsheet users are very satisfied

There’s a Better Way

Evaluating such companies as Accompa, Aha!, InnovateNow, Jama Software, OneDesk, ProdPad, ProductPlan, Reqqs, SensorSix, TrendRadius and Wizeline, the new field report states that product managers who use specialized applications have “the potential to improve their alignment with sales and marketing, along with their efficiency and effectiveness.”

SiriusDecisions recommends that those evaluating a product planning, prioritization and roadmapping solution consider their current processes and how one of these solutions might help fill their needs.

The field guide outlines the following minimum criteria for evaluating product management applications:

  • The application should be designed specifically for B2B product managers

In addition, at least one of the following should be met:

  • Capability to collect and aggregate feedback from internal and external audiences regarding product changes, requirements and enhancements
  • Ability to help score, prioritize and select ideas, requirements and features
  • Functionality to create and update product roadmaps 

A Market to Watch

SiriusDecisions reports that 32 percent of product managers don’t use applications developed specifically for product management because they weren’t aware those applications existed. 

Despite this, said Singer, 50 percent of those surveyed indicated they intend to evaluate one of these programs in the next six months – an indication that the product management application market will be a strong one in years to come.

“Even during the course of compiling this report, we saw improvements upon improvements every day from vendors,” she said. “This is a very dynamic and emerging market. As more product managers are providing feedback, I think this is going to be a very big segment in terms of productivity in the next three to five years.”

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