Product ManagementSaeedTools

Are these really the tools Product Managers use?

by Saeed Khan

As a Product Manager, and with the exception of Excel, PowerPoint and Word, what software tools do you use on a regular basis to do your job?

It’s always an interesting conversation to have when PMs get together to share and compare what tools are worth checking out.

Product Hunt or Products Shunned?

I recently came across the following list on Product Hunt – Tools for Product Managers — and the items  and rankings surprised me. I don’t know how representative Product Hunt’s audience is of the broader (software) product management community, but based on the tool rankings, I’m certainly not like those PMs in the tools that I use. Trello as the dominant tool, well above all others?? Really?

There are note taking tools, task management tools, presentation tools (PowerPoint is noticeably absent), and no mention of Excel or Word. More importantly no mention of any PM specific tools such as requirements management or roadmapping tools, or any business or financial analysis tools.

Here’s a chart of the number of upvotes for each tool listed as of Sept 17, 2014.


Is this representative of your environment or company? Are there any tools you’d like to see that don’t exist today? Let us know.


Tweet this: Are these really the tools Product Managers use? http://wp.me/pXBON-4dT #prodmgmt #tools #ux

About the Author

Saeed Khan is a founder and Managing Editor of On Product Management, and has worked for the last 20 years in high-technology companies building and managing market leading products. He also speaks regularly at events on the topic of product management and product leadership. You can contact him via Twitter @saeedwkhan or via the Contact Us page on this blog.

  1. Shardul

    We use Aha.io for product planning, requirements, and roadmapping; Basecamp; and Jira. We’ve been experimenting with a tool called ListenLoop, and another called Localytics. I’m still looking for a good tool to capture customer conversations/interviews. And of course we use Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

  2. Shaun Russell

    Funnily enough I use the top five and none of the rest!

    Requirements management is very diluted market – we use TFS, but there’s no real industry standard and it’s very dependent on the engineering setup and needs.

    In my experience there are no tools that successfully regulate the whole product management process, from ideation through to specification, partly because there are so many ways in which it can be done. We use ProdPad as a space for product thinking and ideation, then customised Google Drive and Trello setups to manage the transition into a prioritised pipeline, and finally TFS to convert the top priorities into specifications.

    I’m surprised there aren’t many user tracking / analysis / communication tools in the list. We’re working with Heap and likely to trial Intercom soon – these feel like essential parts of a PM toolkit, and I had presumed were quite widespread amongst the community.

  3. brian piercy (@brianpiercy)

    Trello (internal collab, schedules, actions)
    Wordpress / Mailchimp / Filezilla (sales channel blog mgmt)
    Google Docs (because I loathe MS Word & MS Powerpoint)
    Dropbox (virtual office, plus customer-specific portals)
    Gimp (image edits)
    Buffer & Tweetdeck
    Text messaging

    I use Excel for requirements, planning & roadmapping. I’m a relative power user & can adopt it to my needs far easier than any pm-centric tool. My “customers” (my sales channels) are extremely slow to adopt new tools which also drives many of these decisions. They’re definitely not the Hacker News crowd.

    I also occasionally fire up a copy of MS Project, because I’m the most experienced projects person in the company. Somebody has to sanity-check my developer’s dates.

  4. chrisgoodrich

    I was very surprised how low the wireframing and prototyping tools ranked on the list. As an agile PM, the majority of my time is spent on my backlog in the Atlassian toolset (which was surprisingly absent from the list) and Balsamiq for prototyping, testing, and documenting user stories.

  5. Ryan Lee

    Concur that Excel, Powerpoint and Word should make the list. In my current and previous PM jobs, I use some form of Wiki for project/product pages.

    I recently started using Asana for task management. Awesome, and I haven’t even begun the collaboration features with teams.
    Redbooth is similar but with even more collaboration features.

    I look at data every day, so some form of BI or analytical tool is also a must.

  6. Ryan Hoover

    We asked several former/current product managers in the Product Hunt community for their recommendations of tools they use in that role. We didn’t choose the tools and of course it’s not comprehensive nor representative of “the best” tools for every PM.

    – Ryan from Product Hunt

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