Product management software refers to a collection of organizational tools that enable product teams to conceptualize, plan and develop complex products with the least amount of overhead possible.
Product management tools provide the solutions and the functionalities that allow businesses and their product managers to transform good ideas into actual completed products. This software category has quite a few overlaps with any standard or general-purpose project management platform. However, the key difference between the two is the fact that a product management tool is primarily tailored to help teams focus solely on product development and the creation of complex products from a rather diverse pool of ideas, concepts, user stories and feedback. Most businesses and teams use this type of software to develop and enhance their products in a swift and cost-efficient manner.
Product management software, like most software categories and products, come in different shapes and sizes. There are premium or paid products with advanced capabilities and functionalities, while there are those that are free to use for smaller teams and individuals with simple product planning and development strategy requirements. Free product management software is ideal for small businesses and teams looking for minimal or no-cost solutions. There are two basic types of free software: the free trial and the free plan. The former is often limited to a certain number of days, while the latter is free to use indefinitely but with limited access to certain features and/or number of users/seats.
Asana is a powerful multi-functionality product and project management tool offering a free version for up to 15 team members. The free plan comes with unlimited tasks, projects, messages, and file storage as well as all the core features your business could need.
As a small business or startup, there are a couple of reasons why you would opt for free product management software. One is to look for a no-cost solution that your team can use long-term or at least for the foreseeable future, while the other is to try out a particular software product with the intention of investing or paying for it in the future. If your goal is to find a good product management tool that your team members can use long-term at no cost, then choosing a freemium type software solution with a free-forever option is the best way to go.
Some vendors of product management software will offer a free plan to prospective customers. This plan is designed to be free forever, but comes with a few limitations. Freemium software products are indeed free to use indefinitely, but they operate under certain parameters or restrictions. One of the most common limitations with free-forever plans is the number of monthly users or seats. Typically, free plans are limited to one or two users per month, while the premium option or the paid plan may allow more than five seats. Sometimes the number of seats is even unlimited, depending on the vendor or tier level of the premium package.
Apart from the limited number of seats, free-forever plans may also present a few limitations in the features department. The capacity and availability of features are a crucial component in free product management software, specifically the freemium types. For instance, your freemium product management tool may offer task management as one of its features, but you can only manage a single task at a time. A paid version of the same software, on the other hand, will allow you to manage multiple tasks in real time, at any given period.
In addition to managing tasks, you’ll also have the ability to break down large complex tasks into more manageable chunks of work, which you can then assign to individual team members. However, this functionality may or may not be available in your chosen free product management solution. You may have to look for this particular function when evaluating the free plans of different product management software solutions.
Customer feedback tools are a common feature in premium product management software, which may also be offered in the free version at limited capacity. Also referred to as customer survey tools, this particular feature is useful for collecting users’ expectations and experiences with your products. Survey tools are a great way to capture user feedback in an efficient and practical manner. It gives you and your team the ability to get accurate information, i.e. capture the true sentiments of your customers with regards to your product. You can then use the data you collect from surveys to strengthen or optimize your product strategy.
In addition to customer survey tools, free product management software may also be equipped with a user tracking and analysis feature. Getting a better and more accurate understanding of your customer base is crucial in the product development process. No matter how good your strategy is, if your product doesn’t deliver or align with the requirements of your user base, then all the effort your team has invested into its development will have been for nothing. The user tracking and analysis feature allows you to monitor user behavior and keep track of how your customer base is reacting to your product.
The valuable insights that you collect from your user tracking and analysis tool can be used to enhance the performance and quality of your product, which is a key factor to ensuring the highest possible level of product performance for the longest amount of time. If you want to optimize your product lifecycle, then you should be looking for this particular function when evaluating the free versions of different product management platforms.
Prototyping and roadmapping are a couple of important functions that may also be available in a number of free product management software solutions. Prototyping is all about having the right vision for a product right from the get-go. Every product released to the market begins as an idea, a concept that is put on paper or design software, refined and developed for manufacturing. A prototyping tool lets you create a prototype of your product concept before it gets sent for manufacturing. Having a prototype allows you to gain valuable insights into how the product feels and how it interacts with the target users. It empowers agile teams to refine the product before commencing the manufacturing process.
The roadmapping function, on the other hand, provides agile development teams with the ability to map out the entire product development and management lifecycle. Most product management solutions, including the free versions, will often use Gantt charts and other visual tools to facilitate the product development process. Roadmapping allows product managers and their teams to get a comprehensive visualization of the product development timeline by simply mapping out the sprint tasks and their dependencies.
The no-cost aspect that is inherent in all free product management software solutions is perhaps the most obvious benefit for small businesses and teams, which are typically the target users of freemium type software products. However, this is not the only benefit that you can expect from a free product management solution. Depending on the features that are available in the free version, there are plenty of benefits to using the right product management tool to facilitate your product development and strategy efforts.
One of the key benefits of using free product management tools, other than the fact that they’re free, is how they can help improve collaboration among the team members, contributors and other stakeholders. Smooth product management, successful product development and delivery will require better collaboration among the individual members of the product development team, including the external contributors. Most product management platforms, including their free versions, are equipped with collaboration tools to help product managers and their teams work together as seamlessly and efficiently as possible to ensure on-time product delivery.
Speaking of on-time product delivery, another benefit of using free product management software is how it can help expedite the completion and delivery of products, without sacrificing quality. The software is often equipped with a product roadmap tool that can help guide development teams to a faster and more efficient delivery of quality products. With this roadmap tool, product managers can optimize the development process to make it more flexible, so deciding which ideas must be kept and which ones should be dropped becomes a less strenuous and time-consuming activity. The dropped ideas will only be hidden, which means they can still be retrieved when necessary.
Product management solutions can also provide better storage and maintenance capabilities. Although when it comes to freemium type product management software, the product data storage and maintenance is often available at limited capacity. The goal with this feature is to ensure efficient data sharing and robust security. Product information can be securely stored in a central location and can easily be retrieved or viewed through permission-based access controls. The product manager can set view-only access to authorized team members, clients and stakeholders.
Product management solutions are designed to facilitate the conceptualization, planning and execution of developing a product. Free product management software is geared towards smaller teams and companies with simple and non-complicated product management requirements. There are two main types of free product management solutions, the free trial and the free plan, a.k.a. freemium plan.
The free trial is ideal for businesses that just want to check out the software before subscribing or making a purchase. The free plan is also good for trying out the software, but it’s more geared towards teams looking for a slightly long-term solution for their product management process. While freemium plans are often forever free, they still provide businesses with the option to extend their capabilities by upgrading to a paid or premium version.