Product management dictionary

The role of a product manager requires an incredible breadth and depth of expertise. This is because your daily activities can range from setting high-level strategy to defining detailed feature requirements. And you collaborate with many other teams — from engineering and marketing to sales and support.

So we created this dictionary to help you quickly learn the most common product terms. You will also find links to related articles so you can deepen your understanding of core product management concepts.

A

Agile

A collection of software development methodologies that support adaptive planning, evolutionary development, and continuous delivery. The Manifesto for Agile Software Development was published in 2001 and is the foundation of many agile methods teams use today. Read more about agile values and principles.

Agile product development

An incremental and iterative approach to building and delivering products and services. Read more about agile product development.

Agile product management

Product management in an agile environment, where planning is done in an iterative way. Read more about agile product management.

Agile Release Train (ART)

Cross-functional agile team that incrementally develops, delivers, and operates (if applicable) one or more solutions in a value stream (the products, services, and systems delivered to the customer)

Acceptance criteria

Conditions of satisfaction used to determine if a user story or feature achieves the desired outcome.

Application (software)

A software package (such as a product or program) that is designed so that end users can perform a specific task.

Application programming interface (API)

A set of rules in an operating system used in software programs to communicate and facilitate interactions between systems.

Annual contract value (ACV)

The average annual revenue received from a customer. This metric is used by SaaS companies to normalize subscription revenue from each contracted customer across a year.

Annual recurring revenue (ARR)

Yearly revenue from new sales, renewals, and upgrades adjusted for downgrades and churn. This metric is used to track how much revenue a company can expect based on yearly subscriptions.

B

Backlog (product)

A prioritized list of user stories or features for a product or service that are ready to be implemented. Read more about product backlogs.

Backlog (sprint)

A prioritized list of user stories or features that the development team will work on during a sprint or iteration.

Backlog grooming

The continuous process of organizing, refining, and prioritizing the product backlog to prepare for sprint planning.

Business case

The business justification for implementing an initiative or feature that demonstrates the expected benefit. Benefits can include revenue potential, customer satisfaction, or cost savings.

Business model

A framework for how a business will deliver value. A business model typically includes a high-level vision, key objectives, customer targets and challenges, solution, value, pricing, messaging, go-to-market channels, investment required, and growth opportunity. Read more about business models.

Business model canvas

A template for developing new or capturing existing business models. It includes key building blocks such as challenge, solution, value proposition, competitive advantage, key metrics, operating costs, and revenue streams.

Burndown chart

A chart that shows the amount of work completed per day against the amount of work remaining for a release or sprint. Work can be measured in time or story points.

Beta testing

A way to gather feedback on design, functionality, and usability from end users before a new product or feature is made broadly available to customers.

C

Customer experience (CX)

The summation of all the interactions between a customer and an organization. Read more about customer experience.

Churn

The annual percentage of customers who stop using a product or service.

Conversion rate

The percentage of prospects or visitors who become paying customers of a product or service.

Competitor analysis

An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, either direct or indirect. Read more about competitor analysis.

Customer journey map

A visual representation of the touchpoints a customer has with a company. A journey map can be used to capture the entire customer experience or a specific interaction.

Chief product officer (CPO)

An executive-level role that is responsible for all product activities inside an organization. A CPO is responsible for setting the overall product strategy, making sure the direction serves the company vision and goals. Read more about the role of a chief product officer.

Complete Product Experience (CPE)

Optimizing all aspects of how a customer interacts with a product and company. The seven core areas of a CPE include marketing, sales, technology, supporting systems, third-party integrations, support, and policies. Read more about creating a Complete Product Experience.

Continuous delivery

The ability to deploy code changes (such as new features, configuration changes, and bug fixes) at any time. This approach uses small build cycles to package software for deployment in a production-like environment so it can be rapidly deployed.

Continuous deployment

A process by which changes to software code are automatically deployed to the final production environment. Automatic run tests ensure the code functions properly before it is deployed.

Continuous integration

A software development practice that requires engineers to continuously integrate or merge code into a shared repository. Automated build and test processes help teams quickly identify code issues.

Customer retention

The activities or actions a company takes to retain as many current customers as possible. Strategies can include improving customer service, customer loyalty programs, and increasing purchasing frequency.

Cost of delay

A calculation used to quantify the impact of time on outcomes by estimating the revenue an initiative or feature is expected to generate and how much a delay will cost. Cost of delay is used in the Scaled Agile Framework® to make prioritization decisions based on value and urgency.

Customer Advisory Board

A group of existing customers that convenes periodically to provide a company with observations and guidance based on their experience with a product or service.

D

Digital transformation

The use of digital technologies to create new customer experiences and business processes or optimize existing ones. Read more about digital transformation.

Differentiation (product)

The unique value of a product or service that distinguishes it from direct and indirect competitors in the marketplace. Read more about product differentiation.

Dependency management (product)

A relationship between features or requirements that determines the order they can be implemented. In product management, dependencies are typically business, technical, or resource related.

Definition of done

An agile term for acceptance criteria that must be met before a user story is considered complete. The definition of done includes all conditions necessary for a customer or user to accept the work.

Design (product)

The process of imagining, creating, and iterating products to address a customer's specific needs.

Development (product)

The steps involved in creating a new product or enhancing an existing one to meet a customer's wants and needs.

E

Engineer (software)

An engineer who specializes in developing software products.

Epic

An agile term for large effort of work that can be broken down into smaller user stories. An epic typically takes more than one sprint to complete.

Ecosystem (product)

A collection of products meant to be used together. Each product can exist by itself but provides greater value to customers as part of an integrated category of solutions.

F

Feature

A product feature describes a customer benefit and the target end result. An individual feature may impact a product's appearance, components, or capabilities. Read more about product features.

Feature score

An objective way to rank features against strategy using a set of metrics such as sales increase, retention of customers, marketing potential, operational efficiencies, and effort to develop.

Feedback (customer)

A customer's opinion about a product or service. This information can be collected in a variety of ways, such as an ideas portal, interviews, user forums, surveys, and product analytics. Read more about customer feedback.

Framework (agile)

An approach to agile software development that emphasizes moving quickly and iteratively. Some of the popular frameworks include scrum, kanban, and lean development.

G

Goal

A measurable, time-bound objective that has a clearly defined success metric. Read more about setting goals.

Gantt chart

A visualization used for planning and scheduling projects that shows activities (tasks or events) displayed against time. A Gantt chart displays project phases in the order they need to be completed and shows important milestones and dependencies. Read more about Gantt charts.

Go-to-market strategy

The strategy for bringing a specific new experience, such as a product launch, new feature, or expansion, to market. It includes goals and initiatives, positioning and messaging, pricing, customer personas, and distribution channels. Read more about go-to-market strategy.

H

Hypercompetition

An intense level of competition among companies in a rapidly changing market.

Hardware product

Tools, machinery, and other durable equipment. In technology, hardware describes the physical elements of a computer such as a keyboard, monitor, and central processing unit.

Hurdle rate

The minimum rate of return from a project that is required by a company or investor. Hurdle rate is calculated based on the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) and the level of risk associated with the project.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)

An application protocol used to enable communication between a user's browser and a web server.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)

An extension of HTTP that uses encryption protocol to ensure secure communication between a user's browser and a web server.

I

Idea management

The process of capturing, sorting, and prioritizing ideas from customers, partners, and internal teams. Effective idea management is vital for understanding what customers want, driving product innovation, and achieving business growth. Read more about idea management.

Initiatives

Themes or big efforts of work that need to be implemented to achieve a set of goals. Initiatives roll up to the company's overall vision and goals and provide a framework for prioritizing work. Read more about setting initiatives.

Iterative development

A software development approach that promotes designing, developing, and testing code in short, iterative cycles.

Integration (application)

Point-to-point interactions between two software applications that synchronize data and workflows.

Innovation (product)

Solving a problem in a new way. Product innovation can include introducing a new solution to customers or improving the functionality and performance of an existing offering.

J

Javascript

Client-side scripting language commonly used in web development.

Jidoka

A lean concept that empowers team members to stop a process to address quality, process, or supply issues so problems are not passed further down the value stream.

Jobs to be done (JTBD)

A framework for understanding what "job" (task, action, etc.) a customer is trying to accomplish at a given moment. The goal is to better understand their fundamental motivation for choosing a product or service.

K

Kanban

An agile-lean development methodology that helps teams work more efficiently by visualizing work, limiting work-in-progress, and maximizing flow. Read more about kanban.

Kanban board

Visual card-based representation of work and workflow. Cards represent work and columns represent each stage of the process. As work progresses, cards move from left to right across the board. Kanban boards can be physical or digital.

Kano model

A theory for prioritizing product features by weighing potential customer delight against the implementation investment.

Kaizen (lean)

Concept that promotes a continuous improvement mindset. First developed in Japan after World War II, Kaizen encourages all team members to look for ways to improve based on their own observations and experience.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Metrics that indicate how a team is performing against strategic goals.

L

Lean Canvas

A model designed for startup companies so they can quickly validate business ideas using a problem-focused approach to determine whether you should pursue the opportunity.

Lean product development

The application of lean principles to product development. These principles include eliminating waste, building quality in, creating knowledge, deferring commitment, delivering fast, respecting people, and optimizing the whole.

Lifetime value (customer)

Predicted value of a customer over the life of the relationship, including the value of upgrades or additional purchasing opportunity.

Lifecycle (product)

Phases in a product's lifecycle, including introduction, growth, maturity, and decline.

M

Minimum viable product

A minimum level of functionality needed to bring a product to market and gather feedback for future product development. Read more about building a minimum viable product.

Minimum lovable product

A product that solves problems and delights customers right from the start, creating customer love. Read more about building a minimum lovable product.

MoSCoW prioritization

Prioritization technique used to reach a consensus on the importance of specific requirements. The acronym stands for "Must have, Should have, Could have, and Will not have."

Market requirements document (MRD)

A document that communicates the customer’s wants and needs for a product or service. It ensures the team clearly understands the customer’s unmet needs before defining requirements. Read more about creating a market requirements document.

Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)

Monthly revenue from new sales, renewals, and upgrades adjusted for downgrades and churn. MRR is used as a key indicator to track the growth of a SaaS business.

Mockup (product)

Realistic rendering or prototype of what a product or feature will look like and how it will be used.

N

Net promoter score

A tool for measuring a customer's overall satisfaction with a product or service. NPS is calculated using a 1–10 number scale to answer the question, "How likely is it that you would recommend this product to a friend or colleague?"

Needfinding

A design method that focuses on looking for needs rather than solutions. This helps designers better understand the problem a customer needs to solve before identifying how to solve it.

Need-gap analysis

An approach for identifying unmet customer needs and how a product or service can fill that gap in the market.

O

Objectives and key results (OKRs)

Goal-setting framework for defining business objectives and measuring their outcomes. OKRs are usually established on a quarterly basis.

Opportunity score

A metric used to understand how well a product or feature meets customers' needs by calculating importance minus satisfaction.

Owner (Product owner)

Responsible for detailing user stories and participating in scrum rituals, such as sprint planning, stand-ups, and retrospectives.

P

Program manager

Responsible for the success of all the interconnected projects within a specific program. A program manager sets the strategic direction, schedule, and budget for a program. Read more about the role of a program manager.

Product manager

Responsible for driving the success of a product that meets customer, market, and business demands. A product manager sets product strategy, understands what customers want, and prioritizes features. Read more about the role of a product manager.

Project manager

Responsible for coordinating the cross-functional work required to deliver a project on schedule and within budget. Read more about the role of a project manager.

Product requirements document (PRD)

Document used to define the value and purpose of a product or feature. A PRD details who a product or feature is for, the key capabilities that will be delivered, and the benefits. Read more about creating a product requirements document.

Product

Any item or service that is sold to serve a customer’s need or want. A product can be physical (durable or non-durable), virtual (services or experiences), or a hybrid of both. Read more about different types of products.

Positioning

Where a product or offering fits in a marketplace. Positioning is based on what makes a product unique and why it is better than alternative solutions. Read more about product positioning.

Product portfolio

An entire group or a set of products in an organization. Read more about managing a product portfolio.

Prototype (product)

An early model or release of a product to test a concept with customers before it is fully developed.

Platform (product)

Collection of products built on the same underlying architecture. Product platforms use a common set of technical components to meet the needs of different customers. Read more about product platforms.

Q

Quality assurance (QA)

A way of preventing issues when delivering products or services to customers. The purpose of QA is to ensure an offering meets customer requirements and performance expectations.

Quality plan

Describes the standards, practices, resources, and processes required to meet the quality objectives for a product or service.

Quality Function Deployment (QFD)

An approach for translating customer requirements into detailed engineering specifications to build products that meet those requirements.

R

Roadmap (product)

A visual representation of how a product is going to meet a set of business objectives and the work that is required to get there. Roadmaps are used to communicate the product direction and progress against plans to different audiences — such as leadership, internal teams, customers, and partners. Read more about product roadmaps.

Requirements management

Process of collecting, analyzing, refining, and prioritizing product requirements and planning for their delivery. Read more about requirements management.

Release (product)

The launch of a new experience (such as a new product or combination of features) that will provide new value to customers. Read more about product releases.

Retrospective

Meeting that takes place after an activity or event to identify what worked well and what could be improved. For example, product teams often hold a retrospective after a major release.

S

SWOT analysis

Strategic market analysis of a company or product's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Read more about SWOT analysis.

Stage gate process

Five-stage product development process that includes scoping, business case, development, testing, and launch. Review gates are used to evaluate progress between each state and determine if the project should proceed.

Strategy (product)

How a product will achieve business goals, used to align the organization on what needs to be achieved. Read more about product strategy.

Scaled Agile Framework®

Set of guidelines for implementing agile and lean principles at scale. Read more about the Scaled Agile Framework®.

Scrum

Agile project management approach that focuses on delivering products in short, iterative cycles. Read more about scrum.

Sprint

A short, time-boxed period between one and four weeks during which a scrum team works to complete a shippable increment of work. Read more about sprints.

T

Technical product manager

Product manager who brings deep technical expertise to the role, while focusing on core product management responsibilities.

Theme (strategic and product)

Strategic initiative or grouping of related work that must be implemented to achieve a goal. Read more about themes.

Technical debt

Additional development work that is required when code needs to be reworked after it is deployed. This typically occurs when delivery speed is prioritized over implementing the best long-term solution.

U

User story mapping

Visual mapping of the customer journey to help product teams design and build functionality that provides desired outcomes for end users. Read more about user story mapping.

User experience (UX)

The summation of interactions a user has with a product. UX describes a person's emotions and attitudes about using all aspects of a product. Read more about user experience design.

User persona

A fictional character that represents the ideal profile of the people who directly use a product or service. Read more about user personas.

Usability testing

The practice of testing a product or feature with real users. Users are asked to complete specific actions while being observed to understand how they use the system and identify where they experience confusion.

User interface (UI)

The way a user controls a software application or hardware device to complete actions.

Unique selling proposition

A unique benefit or feature that is meaningful to potential buyers and makes a product stand out from competitors.

Unique value proposition

A clear statement that articulates the unique value a product or service provides and how it benefits customers.

V

Vertical market products

Products that are tailored to meet the needs of a specific industry — such as energy, healthcare, financial services, or information technology.

Verification and validation

Process for checking that a product or service meets the requirements and accomplishes the expected purpose.

Velocity

The amount of work a team can accomplish during a period of time. Velocity is commonly used in agile development to calculate how much work a team can complete during a sprint.

Vision (product)

A short, simple statement that captures the essence of where a product is headed and what it will deliver in the future. Read more about product vision.

Voice of the customer

Market research method that uses qualitative and quantitative data to understand customers' needs and wants.

W

Waterfall

Sequential model for planning, building, and delivering new products and features in phases. This approach is commonly used for managing the development of physical or hardware products, as well as hybrid products that include both hardware and software components. Read more about waterfall.

Wireframe

Basic visualization of the framework of a product. Usually a black and white rendering, a wireframe focuses more on what the product does as opposed to how it looks.

Work in progress (WiP)

The total number of work items a team is currently working on at any given time. This term is also used to broadly describe a status of work that is not finalized.

WiP limits

A limit on the number of work items a team can have in progress at any one time. The purpose of WiP limits is to create a smooth workflow by avoiding bottlenecks.

Weighted shortest job first (WSJF)

A prioritization technique that ranks jobs to be done based on value and duration. The jobs that provide the most value in the shortest duration are prioritized first for implementation.

X

XML (Extensible Markup Language)

Text-based markup language that stores, transports, and organizes data in a way that is human-readable and machine-readable.

Y

Year over year (YOY)

Statistical process of comparing one year of data to the previous year of data.

Yield management

Pricing strategy for rapidly adjusting the price of a product due to market changing conditions such as competition, demand, and consumer behavior.

Z

Zeta score

Scoring formula used to calculate a company's likelihood of going bankrupt. It is calculated using the Zeta model or Z-score formula.


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