Pendo eBook: How to set up product ops in your organization: cover image

How to set up product ops in your organization
(and how to know if you did it right)

Late in a Season 3 episode of the sitcom Seinfeld, Jerry, Elaine, and George are planning to see a movie together. Everyone’s excited until Jerry announces he can’t go. He’s on dog duty. No problem, Jerry tells Elaine: you and George go.

“But we need you,” stresses Elaine. “I relate to George through you. We’re like friends-in-law.”

George and Elaine could go together, sure, but Jerry helps the room feel more comfortable; the conversation runs almost exclusively through him. Who can’t relate? We’ve all been there, forced even for a minute to make conversation with a person we only know through someone else. Both parties exhale when the mutual friend returns from the restroom.

We’re not here to discuss the best TV show of all time. But look closely enough, and a similar situation plays out time and again in our professional lives — two or more departments are forced together, yet often have little in common or even a baseline understanding of the other. Who’s over there? What do they want? Where do they spend their time? When do they need things done? Why? The dynamic breeds choppy communication and inefficiency at best, significant mistakes and resentment at worst. It’s a natural outcome. After all, people can’t be expected to know the ins and outs of each department, no matter if the organization is 20 people or 200.

Except, that is, for the Jerrys, or, as we’ll refer to it from here on out: Product operations (commonly known as product ops).

The product ops team sits in the middle of an organization’s Venn diagram, bridging the gap between go-to-market and research and development teams, which is to say, nearly every group, sub-group, and group within every sub-group throughout the company. By communicating each division’s needs and wants in a language everyone can better understand, product ops helps foster conversations about the product that pinpoint problem areas, offering insight through data-backed stories. It’s their superpower. The product ops team is one that, when given the resources and space to flourish, can help a fledgling start-up properly scale to the delight of its investors or help a legacy company rediscover its purpose and begin streamlining what may be outdated practices. Want a simplified version? They help companies talk. Indeed, without giving in to hyperbole, a product ops team can be the difference between a good company, and one that changes the world.

No one said it is easy. Standing up a dynamic product ops team requires diligence and patience, and an investment from leadership all the way down. But the payoff is worth it. Let’s get started.

Pendo E-book: How to set up product ops venn diagram