How are product teams organized?

Behind every great product is a great product team. The product team is responsible for implementing strategy, building the roadmap, and defining product features. These are the people who choose what gets built, promote what is new, and measure performance — crucial organizational roles within any company.

No matter the products or offerings you are responsible for, delivering a complete product experience is what ultimately matters. Clear ownership and defined roles will help you deliver better results. This means you should structure your team to best support the goals you want to achieve.

Who makes up the product organization?

A product team is typically comprised of cross-functional teammates. They are responsible for product management, product marketing, user experience, and product analytics. Product teams may also be tasked with marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities.

The table below summarizes the roles and responsibilities of each function within a typical product organization: product management, user experience, and product analytics. It also includes product marketing roles and responsibilities. Product managers may do that work if there is no product marketing team at an organization.

Function

Responsibilities

Roles

Product management

  • Set the product vision and strategy

  • Plan and deliver releases

  • Collect and curate new ideas

  • Define new product features

  • Director of product management

  • Group product manager

  • Product owner

  • Product manager

  • Associate product manager

User experience (UX)

  • Director of user experience

  • UX manager

  • Senior UX designer

  • UX designer

  • Product designer

Product analytics

  • Integrate data sources

  • Research market trends

  • Understand user journeys

  • Reveal user behaviors and pain points

  • Director of product analytics

  • Analytics manager

  • Senior product analyst

  • Product analyst

  • Business analyst

Product marketing

  • Research the competitive landscape

  • Define buyer personas

  • Create and coordinate launch plans

  • Craft positioning and messaging

  • Director of product marketing

  • Senior product marketing manager

  • Solutions marketing manager

  • Portfolio marketing manager

What are the most common product organizational structures?

There is no one-size-fits-all structure. You can organize your product team around the different products or product lines in your organization, for example. Or you can align around the functional area each team supports — whether that is a product feature or a customer segment.

Consider these questions as you think about the best organizational structure for your product team:

  • Who are your target customers? How do their needs vary?

  • Which business goals is your team responsible for achieving?

  • Are there multiple products or product lines to be managed?

  • What are the functions of your product team?

  • What resources will be dedicated to each team?

Some of the most common product organizational structures are included below. Each is focused on a different business need, such as product type or customer segment. Choose a structure that best supports the goals you need to achieve.

By product or product line

Organizing around a product or product line is the most common structure for product teams, especially at larger organizations. Each product has a dedicated product manager who reports directly to the VP of product or chief product officer. In the example below, you see three product lines with an embedded UX designer.

This structure scales well and gives product managers autonomy over their product or product line so you can deeply focus on customer problems and how to solve them. Within this structure, product managers can make decisions and iterate quickly because they have very clear ownership. This structure can also lead to siloed work — so product managers must be intentional about making time to collaborate with peers outside their area of ownership.

By feature

Organizations with complex products may have teams dedicated to particular product functions or features. In the diagram below, one product manager is responsible for the product's chat features, another is responsible for the email platform, and so forth.

In this structure, product managers have a discrete area of focus and need visibility into cross-dependencies that exist for the suite of products. A chief product officer helps maintain visibility to create a cohesive whole.

By customer segment

Some organizations structure their product teams around customer segments. This is common when a product serves the needs of different vertical markets — finance, healthcare, manufacturing, etc. — as in the example below.

Product teams can also be structured around horizontal markets. For example, a sporting goods company that creates products for tennis players and golfers could have product managers specific to each category.

Just as in the other structures above, teams that are structured by customer segment have unique advantages and challenges. Visibility and cross-collaboration are crucial — the focus is delivering a complete product experience that exceeds customer expectations.

Connect your team to your strategy

Product teams need a sound structure and well-defined roles. But it all starts with a clear strategy that describes what you are trying to achieve. A clear product vision and strategy helps teams closely collaborate in a dynamic way — no matter how the team is structured.

Many product teams rely on purpose-built software like Aha! to define strategy, manage ideas, build visual roadmaps, and analyze results in a centralized location. Connect your tactical work to the organization's broader goals — try Aha! free for 30 days.


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