Photo by Jcob Nasyr
Product management in a remote setting can be challenging. Since managing products is inherently very cross-functional and requires frequent communication, a remote setting can add barriers. This applies to any remote scenario, including being part of a remote office, being a remote employee, or as part of a fully distributed company. Besides having the right processes in place (a separate post will cover these), having the right tools in place can make a big difference. They should primarily support asynchronous communication well. And for the cases where synchronous communication is required, they need to be reliable - nothing is worse than spending the first 10 minutes of a call trying to get things to work.
Here are 6 of our favorite tools:
When working on product design with your designers, Figma allows for easily giving feedback on designs in a remote setting thanks to it’s built-in commenting functionality and everything happening live in the cloud. Their clickable prototypes are great for synchronous presentations and asynchronous exploration of designs. Even real-time collaboration is easily possible. It’s truly a game-changer. Also have a look at Figma’s dedicated resources for remote design.
Product requirements and Specs: Confluence or Google Drive
When working distributed, especially across several timezones it’s important that anyone can find information such as product plans anytime. It’s also important that asynchronous collaboration can happen. Product requirements documents (PRDs) are particularly useful to get everyone aligned in an asynchronous setting and to be able to contribute and discuss product requirements in one place. Confluence is a powerful tool to allow all of this. Alternatively, Google Docs / Drive is a very good option. (Here’s a useful template for a PRD in Google Docs.)
Product roadmaps and prioritization: shipit
Yes, that’s us! The reason we believe shipit is essential for remote product management is that it really connects high-level product plans with all the details such as product requirement documents or Epics and user stories in Jira. It also allows for voting on roadmap initiatives by team members in an asynchronous way, and after votes have been collected product managers can use these to prioritize the roadmap.
User stories and tickets: Jira, Zenhub or Github
Of course, Jira is well-established as a tool to manage your user stories and engineering tickets. It is versatile and can be used for Scrum, Kanban, or other processes, supporting remote work seamlessly. If you are looking for alternatives that are a bit “closer” to engineering work: Github has over the last months improved it’s planning and ticket flows. Zenhub is a well-done tool that builds upon github and comes closer to Jira’s functionality.
No article on remote work would be complete without mentioning Zoom and Slack. We wish we had something more creative to offer here, but these tools have proven to be extremely useful and reliable, so they are rightfully popular.
Screen recording and video clips: Loom
When working asynchronously it can be incredibly useful to share a new idea or to give feedback on a new design prototype or new app version via a quick screen recording and video comment. That’s where Loom comes in - it makes the process super fast and easy.