Last updated: Apr 26, 2023
In this guide we will walk you through the steps it takes to structure, hire and optimize the product department of any organization so that you can ensure your growing business has a strong product-market fit.
Successful product teams create successful products. But how do you build an amazing product team? In this guide we will walk you through the steps it takes to structure, hire and optimize the product department of any organization so that you can ensure your growing business has a strong product-market fit.
The product department’s job is to develop a product strategy that answers the needs of your customer base. Of course, that starts with understanding the needs of your customer base in the first place. Broadly speaking, your product team should handle:
And while your engineering department will typically build the product itself, your product team will “own it” and be responsible for its ultimate success or failure.
The proper size for your product team will depend on what stage your company is in. For an early-stage startup, the product department may be a single person. And in the case of product-driven companies, that person may well be the CEO.
As the startup grows, however, it will become necessary to expand the product team, possibly adding titles such as:
The specific job titles for these positions may vary from organization to organization, but the end goal will always be the same: to plan and execute an effective product strategy.
The structure of your teams can be just as important as the employees you hire. There are quite a few ways you can structure your product teams, and each strategy has its own potential pros and cons.
Here are some of the most common ways to split up your product teams.
This structure mimics the classic research and development split, with teams handling different aspects such as:
Under this system, each team has its own product owner.
This method divides teams based on functional areas. For example, separate teams might handle:
This method assigns a user or customer persona to each team and lets that team handle the persona’s needs end-to-end. For example, if your product is an online job site, you might assign one team to oversee the needs of employers while another team oversees the needs of the job hunters.
This structure delegates teams to take care of different phases in the customer journey. For an e-commerce site, separate teams might deal with features relating to:
With this structure, each team is assigned a set of goals—essentially a problem statement to solve. The team will then use whatever approach is needed to fix the issue or improve functionality.
So which of these possible team structures is best for your product department? Only you and your leadership team can decide that. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. If necessary, consider trying out various approaches early on to see what works best for your company.
Regardless of what structure you settle on for your product department, your teams will only ever be as strong as their members. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you hire the right employees.
Typically, the best place to look for top talent is on online job posting sites. For example, you might try:
There are even job posting sites that will help connect you with remote employees and freelancers in particular, such as:
Another great way to find your ideal employees is by adding open positions to your public org chart right here on The Org. This will help you show off your company’s strengths and give job seekers a clear picture of how they’d fit into your organization.
Just because you’ve hired someone doesn’t mean the hiring process is over. In fact, the onboarding phase can turn out to be the make-or-break moment for the employee’s future with your company.
Studies suggest that the majority of employees decide whether or not to stay with an organization during their first six months of work. If you aren’t making the right impression from the start, you may end up with high employee turnover rates and skyrocketing staffing costs. Worse still, you’ll be making it that much harder for your product team to come together and forge lasting relationships.
In short, you never want to leave the onboarding process up to chance. Welcome new hires with open arms, give them the information and tools they need to succeed, and make sure that they feel at home.
Read more: How to Successfully Onboard an Employee
In the business world, there’s virtually always room for improvement—and the product department is no exception. Your CPO or VP of Product will need to continually adapt to changes in the market, optimize their product strategies, and guide their department to greater heights.
In order to do that, they’ll need an environment that fosters cross-departmental collaboration. First and foremost, product will have to work closely with your engineering team. But for the best results, it’s best if channels of communication are wide open between a wide variety of departments.
One of the best ways to facilitate that kind of culture is by creating an org chart for your company. By providing employees and managers with a visual directory of your company’s layout, you can make it easier for everyone to get along and get more done.
If you haven’t created an org chart for your company yet, just click below to get started today.