100 Essential Product Management Terms From A-Z

What is product management?

Alan from The Hangover counting cards in Vegas
Warner Bros. Pictures via GIPHY

Even ten years ago, you could’ve had a hundred different answers to that question. And in their own way, they’d all be right!

A product manager’s responsibilities have grown into a Jack-Of-All-Trades type of role, mixing UX, tech, and business skills to follow the entire lifecycle of a product, from design to launch—and even future updates.

Sounds like a lot? That’s because it is. 😳

Still, it’s a great time to be a product manager because they’re in high demand, and in an evolving profession, there is always something new and exciting to learn.

That’s where this product management glossary comes in handy. 🤓

The number of applicable terms on this list will be different for everyone and depends on the needs of your product, the size of your company, budget, and the project timeline.

But even if only a handful of these terms are relevant to you now, the remaining terms can help you identify areas of growth, envision where your product is headed, and inform you of the ways product managers help companies reach their goals.

Bonus: Check out these product management templates! 📑 ⭐️

A-E Acceptance Criteria to Epic

Acceptance Criteria

Client Accepted, Definition of Done (DoD)

Acceptance criteria are a set of conditions that software must meet in order to be accepted by a customer or stakeholder. Ultimately, the product owners determine whether the feature is doing what the users want it to do, AKA if it’s serving its purpose from the user story.

Agile

This term refers to the product development methodology where teams work a series of tasks in brief manageable time frames called sprints. There are 12 Agile principles that revolve around frequent feedback, customer satisfaction, increasing the speed of software development, and flexibility.

There’s A LOT that goes into creating an agile product team and many terms on this list will help piece them together!

Take a closer look at all the 12 Agile principles.

Agile Product Development

Agile Software Development, Agile Project Management Agile Software Management, Agile Project Management, Agile Methodology, Agile Method, Agile Approach, Agile Way

This is a project management technique that allows developers to create a working product model in just a few weeks.

Sounds a little stressful, right? Actually, this method is extremely popular and every team has its own special flair when it comes to its unique Agile framework!

An Agile team breaks down their project into smaller development cycles called iterations or sprints.

At the end of each sprint, the team is able to deliver a working product with just the essential features that are ready for user feedback and suggestions. The team takes these suggestions and includes them in their next sprint!

This cycle continues until you’ve created a final software that delights your customers. Voila!

Several other frameworks have branched out from Agile methodologies like Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and XP. 

ART: Agile Release Train

An Agile Release Train consists of multiple Agile software development teams working to tackle large enterprise-scale projects. This takes a lot of people, around 50-125 team members focusing on different parts of the project. 

Like Scrum teams, an Agile Release Train works in bursts, but unlike Scrum teams, these bursts last much longer. 🤯

Alpha Testing

Alpha testing is the first end-to-end testing of a product to ensure the product works properly and does what it’s supposed to do. Think of alpha testing as your first opportunity to evaluate the performance and function of your product release.

B

Backlog

backlog is a list of new features, updates, bug fixes, etc. that are required by the user. The product owner is in charge of prioritizing items in the product backlog and decides which items need to be worked on at the beginning of each iteration.

Beta Testing

While alpha testing is the first test of your product’s functionality, beta testing is where real users get to test your product for possible bugs or defects before your launch. If you are Beta testing, you are at the last stage before releasing your product, so it’s best to iron out any potential issues while your product is still in a controlled setting.

If you were a theatre kid too, think of beta testing as your final dress rehearsal before opening night.

Bugs

Defects

Bugs are unintended or unexpected behavior in software and can occur in any stage of your product lifecycle, including after its release! Testing, users, or quality assurance engineers can discover bugs, and while some can be fixed immediately, others may take a bit of time.

BI: Business Intelligence

Strategies for managing, analyzing, and interpreting data to make informed decisions. This data typically includes a range of sources like industry reports, customer feedback, usage data, and competitor research.

Burndown Chart

Release Burndown Chart, Sprint Burndown Chart

A burndown chart helps Agile project managers track the amount of work left in the project and the time remaining to complete the work by measuring the remaining time left in a sprint by the number of unfinished tasks.

Pro tip: An Agile project management tool like ClickUp can provide a projected progress line on your burndown chart that highlights how project progress would look if your team worked at the same pace.

C

Churn

Customer Churn

This is the number or percentage of customers who cancel their subscriptions, do not use, or choose not to renew with your product. This can ultimately hurt your recurring revenue so it’s best to look for the root of the problem!

Check in with your customers on any feedback or issues they may be having—it may be an easy fix!

Competitor Analysis

Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of similar products from direct or indirect competitors. Keep this analysis in mind when defining your unique value provisions!

Concept Review

This is the initial idea for a new product and the process of product managers and stakeholders reviewing different product concepts to decide which build would be the most successful.

Continuous Integration

CI, Continuous Delivery

Continuous integration is an Agile practice where developers constantly add their code to the main system. Development professionals will work independently on a feature and once it is completed, it’s tested for any bugs. After it’s passed the automated test, it is added to the final software.

Continuous Deployment

Similar to continuous integration and CI, continuous deployment is a strategy to condense time between writing code and adding it to the final software. Similar to automated testing and releases, this Agile practice helps to ensure that defects and feedback can be addressed in a timely manner.

Conversion Rate

This is the percentage of visitors to your site, prospects, or clicks who then become paying customers to your service. Think of this as the number of customers who buy something divided by the number of total customers who enter a store.

Customer Experience

CX

This refers to every interaction a customer has with your business and how they’ve made that customer feel about your company in general. This includes any encounter with the product, the customer success processes, marketing, sales, and advertising.

Customer Feedback

This is any information provided by a customer about their experience with or using your product. By sharing their degree of satisfaction with the service or product, you and your team will be able to make improvements or fix bugs as needed. Proactively providing a poll, survey, or place for customers to share reviews can help your product maintain a competitive edge!

Customer Retention

Customer Retention Rate, CRR

While churn refers to the measurement of customers who do not renew, customer retention is the measurement of how many customers do renew their contracts or subscriptions. The best way to maintain a healthy customer retention rate is to establish a trusted and engaged relationship between your business and the customers to keep them engaged and satisfied!

Customer Success

Your product achieves customer success once the customer is able to solve the problem that your product was created to solve. Positive reviews, active customer feedback, and high customer retention rates are good indicators of achieving customer success.

Cross-Functional Team

A cross-functional team is made of members with different skills, talents, and interests to quickly deliver a new product or tackle a particular problem.

D

DAU: Daily Active Users

Staying on top of your number of daily active users is a common way of measuring engagement to determine the retention of your customers. The definition of an “active user” is determined by the function and usage your product serves, and while high engagement might seem like the goal, it can also be an indicator of bottlenecks in your workflow.

Other common engagement metrics include Weekly Active Users (WAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU).

Dependency Management

Dependencies describe the relationship of one task or feature to another and determine when they can be completed. It is crucial to consider dependencies when creating your project roadmap and for monitoring your product team’s efficiency, because if task B is dependent on task A, then task B cannot begin until the task it depends on is complete.

Design

The process of visualizing, defining, creating, and improving products to solve a specific problem or meet a customer’s needs.

Designers

Designers create the look, feel, and function of a product. They are in charge of planning how the product and its features will be presented while improving user experience and reducing points of friction in future variations. There are typically multiple designers involved in each phase of product development including:

  • Product Designers
  • User Experience Designers
  • Customer Experience Designers
  • Interaction Designers

Design Thinking

This is a human-first design process that requires you to understand the problems and needs of the audience you’re designing for. The idea is that by empathizing with the people your product serves, you can better anticipate problems and innovate your product because you are so in-tune with what your customer wants.

Design Concept

Your design concept is a brief description of your product’s planned design—think of this as your product’s elevator pitch that drives home the value in designing this product. Your design concept should:

  • Convey the problem your product will solve
  • Define your target audience
  • Describe how people will use the product

Development

The process of creating a new product, implementing a new iteration, or adding features to improve a customer’s experience with your existing product.

Developers

While designers create the look, feel, and function of a product, developers are responsible for bringing those plans to life.

Digital Transformation

Digital Adoption

Upgrading traditional business processes to take advantage of new digital technologies. This is used to make businesses more efficient, accessible to more customers, and scalable. This process can take years to complete and require a focused strategy to maintain and improve the business’s customer experience.

Disruption

Fundamentally New Product

Innovative technology, products, or thinking that spurs a new industry or market that competes with an existing one.

Divergent Thinking

Brainstorming for new, unique, creative ways to solve an existing problem.

E

Ecosystem

A group of separate products that are intended to be used together for greater value or to solve a group of related problems.

Epic

Epic Stories

An epic is an idea or feature that can be broken down into smaller user stories, like how Harry Potter’s incredible years at Hogwarts are split into seven fantastic books.

Harry holding his wand for the first time, simple sparkles
Universal via GIPHY

In product development, an epic called ‘Improve Mobile UI’ can consist of three user stories: ‘Add mobile Shopping Cart’, ‘Optimize Speed’, and ‘Consistent Font’. 

Each user story can then be broken into manageable tasks and due to their size, will be delivered over multiple sprints. 

F-J Feature to Jobs-To-Be-Done

Feature

Your product features are the characteristics and capabilities that make your product function and stand out among other similar products on the market.

Feature Audit

A feature audit is a review of your product’s features (traits and functionalities) to see how many customers are using them and how often they are used. These audits are often represented in a graph or chart and the information can be collected from surveys, customer interviews, online usage data, or analytics tools.

Feature Score

This is another way of ranking features based on performance metrics alone and without the input of customer feedback or reviews. Feature scores are determined by a feature’s success in areas like sales, customer retention, efficiency, and time needed to develop.

FDD: Feature Driven Development

This agile framework structures the software development process entirely around completing features. It breaks up product development into smaller chunks (features) that aim to fulfill a different client-focused need.

G

Gantt Chart

Project Timeline 

A horizontal bar chart that visualizes the sequence of tasks within the project timeline and can show which tasks are dependent on each other. Each task has a start date and end date so your team does not exceed deadlines.

Learn more in our Gantt charts guide!

Goal

Sprint Goal, Iteration Goal

In product management, goals can be much more specific than just finishing the product on time or delivering a quality product that people will use. Each sprint is typically bookended with a specific goal, or the desired result the Scrum team wants to achieve from those tasks.

It is common for these goals to be a working model of the software that can be shown to the stakeholders.

Agile project management tools like ClickUp have in-built features that can help you track your sprint goals in real-time!

GOOB: Get-Out-Of-The-Building

In short, this acronym means to meet your customer where they’re at. Product teams are often testing and using their products in controlled settings, but their customers won’t be. By getting out of the building you will get to know your customers in the environment that they will be using your product.

GTM: Go-To-Market Strategy

This is your strategic and tactical plan of how a company intends to manage a successful product release. This plan includes pricing, sales strategies, a customer journey map, marketing, budget, customer support, and more.

H

Hardware Product

Hardware refers to the tangible tools and mechanical equipment involved in developing or using your product. This could include the physical pieces of a computer and elements needed to use it including a keyboard, monitor, or mouse.

I

Idea Management

This is the process of collecting, sorting, and analyzing ideas intended to improve your product. Ideas may come from customer feedback, partners, or internally and be of different priority.

Ideation

The process of creating new ideas and fleshing them out through brainstorming sessions, lists, or mind mapping.

Incremental Product

Incremental Innovation

This is a development model where each iteration builds upon the previous version without replacing it. While each new version is a more improved variation of the previous, the previous product is still functional.

Intuitive

Intuitive Design

An intuitive product fits easily into a customer’s existing mental framework and work habits. It feels natural to use and quick to catch onto.

Integration

When an application can integrate with another, it means that the two software can synchronize with the other’s data and workflow.

J

JTBD: Jobs-To-Be-Done

This refers to the job or task that a customer is trying to complete in order to better understand the problems they face and their motivations for seeking out a solution.

K-O Kaizen to Opportunity Score

Kaizen

Kaizen is the concept of constantly looking for areas of improvement based on the team member’s own experience using the product.

Kanban

Instead of working in fixed and planned iterations like in Scrum, Kanban teams work on priority tasks whenever they come in. It’s a highly visual Agile framework with the goal of having a constant stream of work without any bottlenecks. 

Teams add a limit to the number of tasks that can be worked upon simultaneously (known as WIP limit), so the team doesn’t multitask and slow down productivity.

Learn how ClickUp can help you set up Kanban project management.

Kanban Board

Taskboard, Whiteboard, Corkboard

Kanban board is a physical or visual corkboard that is split into 3-4 columns to visualize all the work within the project. Each column in a Kanban board represents a status of the task, ranging from ‘To Do’, ‘In Progress’, and ‘Done’. 

In Kanban, each task is visualized as a sticky note or card. Every time a team member finishes a task, the card is moved to the relevant column.

You can see 20 more examples of them here.

Kano Model

Prioritizing product features by how likely they are to satisfy your customer. By comparing the probability of satisfaction against the cost to develop it, your product team can determine if it’s strategic to add it to the roadmap.

KPIs: Key Performance Indicators

KPIs are the most influential quantitative metrics used to determine the success of your product. Financial success, revenue, customer metrics, and the number of new users are common KPIs, but the most critical metrics for your company to consider will depend on the type of product you have and the unique purpose it serves.

L

Lean Product Development

Lean Software Development

Principles and practices that optimize the development process. It was inspired by the lean manufacturing approach introduced by Toyota in the 50s.

Learn more about Lean project management and Lean principles in our dedicated articles.

Lifetime Value

Customer Lifetime Value, CLV, CLTV

This is the estimated total revenue a customer creates for a business in the entirety of their relationship. This is how businesses determine the cost-efficiency of adding and supporting customers over time.

Lifecycle

Each phase in a product’s existence from its initial idea, through its development, iterations, growth, and eventual decline.

M

MRD: Market Requirements Document

A written document by the product manager that strategically defines the demand and requirement for a product. The MRD includes the product vision, target market, user personas, solutions, and possible revenue of your product.

MVP: Minimum Viable Product

This is a product in its early stages of development that has just enough features to fulfill the product idea. Even with the minimum number of features, the sooner you can attract customers to your product, the sooner you can receive feedback and improve on future iterations.

Mockup

Mockups are realistic drawings or physical models of your product but do not have the functionality. They are a visual representation or depiction of what the team imagines for the product.

MRR: Monthly Recurring Revenue

The calculation of revenue generated every month, or, all ongoing revenue divided into a monthly number.

N

Needfinding

Identify the areas where your customers need a solution. This requires learning about and empathizing with your customers to reach the problems they face and how your product could fill the gap.

NPS: Net Promoter Score

This is the method of using a simple survey to determine customer satisfaction with your product. Repeatedly asking customers to rate your product on a scale of 0-10 at multiple stages in the customer journey can help you get a more general or detailed score.

O

OKRs: Objectives and Key Results

Similar to KPIs, Objectives and Key Results are used to measure your product results, but OKRs rely on setting clear objectives or goals to track and evaluate alongside a set time frame.

Opportunity Score

This strategy is used for identifying features that customers find necessary but are also struggling to use efficiently. By continuously looking for areas of opportunity in your product you can increase customer loyalty while attracting new ones!

P-T Pivot to Theme

Pivot

To shift your business strategy or direction due to findings of your product’s market, flaws in your original strategy, or competitive pressure.

Ross from Friends yelling PIVOT!
NBC via GIPHY

Prioritization

Ranking items or initiatives in your backlog in order of importance to decide which would be developed next.

Product

This is why we’re here! Your product is an item or service that solves a customer’s problem or fills a need. A product can be a downloadable or physical item, free or purchasable—or a combination of each!

Product Discovery

Product discovery comes from a deep understanding of the customers to create products that solve key issues they face regularly. A comprehensive understanding of what your customer needs can help you prioritize the products you develop and ensure that there is a market for them.

Product Analytics

Objective quantitative data collected by embedded tools to understand how customers use your products. These analytics may include the time users spend completing certain actions, a map of the user journey with your product, or which features are used the most.

Product-Led Growth

This is the use of a product as the primary draw-in to attract customers. A business may offer limited use of their products for free with the option to add more features at an additional cost or offer a free trial where new customers can use a product at its fullest extent for a fixed period of time before having the option to pay for access again.

Product Manager

A product manager assists the Agile team with the development process from start to finish. Their main responsibilities include:

  • dealing with problems in the development process
  • ensuring the team meets project deadlines
  • collaborating with other departments of the company like sales, marketing and, customer service

Learn how product managers use ClickUp.

Product Operations

Your product ops roles are in place to help cross-functional teams work efficiently. They may assist with customer interviews for research, oversee quality assurance checks, streamline development processes, or work alongside support teams.

Product Owner

Owner

These are the key members of an Agile or Scrum team. They decide the vision and features of the final software, but the features are not chosen on a whim!

They carefully understand the customer’s needs and requirements and add those items to the product backlog, and receive feedback from the customers and relay it to the development team.

PRD: Product Requirements Document

This document breaks down the entire development process. It includes the product’s capabilities, design, description, and details on its delivery. This document will draw out everything the product must have before it can be released or considered finished.

Product Roadmap

A product roadmap is a concise framework of your entire project plan. Instead of drowning you in details, a roadmap lets you view the product schedule, crucial milestones, and objectives.

By highlighting the key components of your plan, roadmapping helps your team stay on track with upcoming tasks. 

Product Spec

This document is similar to a PRD but more concise and to the point. It may contain blueprints or key information regarding the product audience but mostly serves to answer why the product or feature is being built, its goals, and how its success will be measured.

Prototype

While a mockup is a drawing or physical representation of what a product will look like, a prototype is an early model that is developed enough for customers to test its functionality.

Q

Quality Assurance

This is a company’s process for ensuring and improving the quality of its products in all stages of a product’s development. Quality assurance is a proactive approach to help businesses deliver high-quality products with a positive user experience.

R

Release Plan

release plan showcases all the features to be included in the next release, along with an estimated release date and usually spans for a period of a few months. Think of it as the movie trailer of an Agile project.

Retrospective

Retrospective Meeting, Sprint Retrospective

A retrospective is a Scrum meeting where the team analyzes their performance at the end of the sprint. 

The team uses Agile metrics, charts, and reports to see where they excel and where they need to improve.

Instead of manually tracking Agile metrics, Agile project management tools like ClickUp offer accurate graphs and charts to help your team power through a sprint retrospective.

S

Scrum

Scrum project management

Scrum is an Agile methodology where teams work in short bursts of work lasting around 2-4 weeks, called sprints to deliver a product that is ready for customer feedback.

Scrum teams set plans and hold regular meetings to ensure that everyone knows what they’re doing and to stay on top of the process within the sprint.

Split-Test & A/B Test

Tests to compare the performance of two variations against one another. A/B tests are often used in product management to identify the best-performing option. For example, if two variations of a new user interface were tested, the variation with the most user engagement would win the A/B test.

Learn more about A/B Testing Tools here.

Sprint

Iterations

Sprints are the short bursts of work that help teams stay on track while developing a product. They usually last for around 2-4 weeks and involve several tasks to help you reach the next major checkpoint on your project timeline. Easily create and manage your own Sprints in ClickUp!

Stage-Gate

Stage-Gate Process

This is the process of dividing your product development process into different phases or “stages,” including scoping, business case, development, testing, and launch. By reviewing the progress of these stages, you can determine how the product will proceed into the next phase.

Stakeholder

This refers to anyone outside of the team who is connected to the project. It could be an investor, account manager, sales team, or client.

Learn more about stakeholders here.

Story Points

story point is a unit assigned to a user story to express how much time and energy would be required for that job. So a higher number would indicate a more difficult task that would require more time. This is a relative estimation technique which means the numbers are assigned to each task by comparison to other similar tasks.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis is a planning method for strategically and proactively considering possible strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your product. Your product’s strengths and weaknesses are often internal factors, while opportunities and threats relate to external factors (i.e. the market, competitors, possible trends).

T

Technical Product Manager

The technical product manager works more closely with engineering teams than with sales or business teams and has a technical background to assist with the development aspects of the project.

Theme

The product theme is a very high-level plan for your product. This can typically be summarized by your product goal or as the answer to the question “what problem does this product solve?”

U-Z Use Case to Zeta Score

Use Case

This is a simple and very likely scenario explaining how a customer would use your product to solve a problem. Though these are hypothetical examples, they are common enough to where they are believable or relatable, and help prove the need and value of different parts of your product.

User Research

The process of understanding your customer’s needs by observing how they perform tasks, use other products, and by learning their thought processes.

UX: User Experience

A summary of your customer’s interactions with a product. Your UX will communicate how a person felt while using your product, their attitude towards using it, ease, and challenges.

User Persona

Your user persona is a fictional customer who represents the ideal user of your product. This is a comprehensive snapshot of your target audience, including age, profession, stage in career, possibly their geographical location, and common problems they face.

User Flows

These are visual representations of the path a user will take while completing tasks on an application. Usually seen depicted in a chart or diagram, mapping a user flow helps teams create more intuitive interfaces and optimize the process customers will take to complete a set of tasks.

User Story

User Goals

This is a brief description of a specific product feature or a function that customers would find helpful. Typical user stories can look something like this: 

‘As (user name/type), I want to (do a thing), so I can (achieve a goal).

Basically, an informal explanation of features someone wants in the system. 

V

Value Proposition

Unique Value Proposition

This is the statement that conveys the purpose, benefits, and differentiator of your product against others in the market. This is used to compel customers to choose your product over other similar ones and communicates what makes your product more valuable or competitive.

Voice of the Customer

This is the general term for feedback and qualitative or quantitative data that relates to your customer’s needs or the problem that your product aims to solve.

W

Waterfall

This is a long-term linear development method where each phase occurs sequentially and each phase must be completed before the next phase can start. This is very much a step-by-step process that starts by gathering the necessary documents and laying out the requirements, then moving into design, then coding, testing, etc., with no overlap.

Wireframe

Somewhat similar to a mockup or a prototype, a wireframe is a basic representation of your product—except it only communicates its function. This is often a very basic-looking web page that only aims to arrange features and show how users will actually use your product.

Y

YOY: Year-Over-Year

The process of comparing one year’s worth of data to the same set of data from the previous year.

Z

Zeta Score

Zeta Model, Z-Score Formula The scoring formula a company uses to determine its likelihood of going bankrupt.

Now I know my… essential product management terms 🎶

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly A-Z, but it was every letter except for X! Pretty darn close if we do say so ourselves. 💅🏼

Maybe you’ve already got this glossary memorized backward and forwards, or maybe there were a few new terms on there for you to consider! Either way, think of this list as your product management springboard—not the finish line. You can see where you’re at and how to take your product management further, and who doesn’t love to grow 1% every day? 😉

If you’re interested in starting a product management career, check out our product management certifications guide!

Plus, ClickUp can help you turn these ideas into actions to elevate your current product management strategy. Save time, be more efficient in your processes, and talk with your team all in one platform! See you there, friends. 🥳

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