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The Top 7 Tools Every Product Manager Needs

A product manager has their hands in a little bit of everything, so they need a couple resources to help organize it all. Here are the top tools a product manager needs.
Top Tools a PM Needs header

At Big Human, we look to our product managers to plan projects, keep communication lines flowing, and anticipate and smooth out any road bumps. To accomplish all of that and more, these PMs rely heavily on a specific set of tools.

Some tools coordinate schedules, some tools detail workflows and project timelines, and some tools help product managers relax and refocus. When there are so many options available, how does a PM choose which platform is right for them?

To take out the guesswork, we asked a few Big Human product managers about the resources they have in their toolkit and why they can’t live without them. 

Read on to discover the tools and platforms every product manager needs.

1. Jira

When you’re working with a lot of moving parts, you need a way to keep tabs on all of them. Jira is a project planning and tracking software that helps streamline a team’s processes. It’s marketed for developers, but with features like customizable workflows, real-time reporting, and kanban boards, it easily doubles as a product manager’s go-to platform. 

What can’t this tool do? This is my go-to task management tool. This is known as a development tool, but it easily has the functions to task designers and pass on their work to developers directly in tickets. It's a perfect tool to track work without having to interrupt workflow and maintain task conversations within each ticket. 

Leslie, Product Manager

While JIRA may be a contentious tool among PMs, I really enjoy how flexible JIRA can be. I’m a sucker for a good kanban board. 

Cindy, Product Manager

2. Slack

There are countless communication apps out there, but at Big Human, Slack is our platform of choice. Slack is probably one of the most recognizable messaging channels — for good reason. It really does streamline communications, making it easy to share files, project updates, company-wide memos, and more. We’d rather get prompt direct messages than sift through a pile of email. It’s also intuitive and organized, and honestly, fun to use. (We love the catalog of emojis and Giphy integration.)

It may seem like an obvious choice, but how did we survive without it before? I still remember the days of chatting with co-workers and clients on AIM and Gchat. Slack makes it possible to connect with colleagues around the world, and share information using the universal languages of emojis and GIFs. 

Lindsay, Senior Product Manager

We wouldn't have survived the pandemic without [Slack]! It's improved significantly over the past year, and it's our number one tool to communicate, share docs, and keep a healthy morale with teams and the overall studio. 

Leslie, Product Manager

3. Notion

Product Managers work on several projects at once, and they need a place to keep track of all of their meeting notes and updates. Notion is a platform that keeps floating documents in one place, allowing your team to reference its own wikis and FAQs. Notion has a wide range of customizable templates to choose from, so the platform can also detail company directories, workflows, and project to-dos and updates.

Whether it’s for quick reminders or planning a project, a good notes tool is any PM’s’ best friend.

Cindy, Product Manager

4. Loom

While work from home is now the norm at Big Human, we know some things are still easier to do in person and some things are better with a visual aid. Loom makes screen-sharing more dynamic by letting users record their screens and add voice overs, so teams can describe exactly what they mean. Video messages are flexible and allow for asynchronous discussions, which means projects won't be slowed down by miscommunication.

Especially in the days of remote work when you can’t pop over to a co-worker’s screen, being able to screen record while also filming yourself and providing a voiceover is so valuable. So much can get lost in translation, and this tool makes it seamless for developers, PMs, and clients to share their experience with a product firsthand. 

Lindsay, Senior Product Manager

5. Google Drive

We leaned heavily into Google Drive even before remote work, but it continues to make file organization straightforward and accessible. We house almost everything on the internal Big Human Google Drive, from company policies to project information to client presentations. We can tag teammates right in the docs for quick clarifications and use the search bar to find documents swiftly without having to comb through endless folders, all while knowing our information is safe and secure. 

Without an organized project, information can easily fall through the cracks. Having a central place where we can all collaborate on docs and keep up with live updates makes everything run smoothly.

Leslie, Product Manager

6. Calendly

Managing our own schedules is hard enough, but when you’re a PM, you have to take everyone’s schedules into account. Since every company uses different business apps and integrations (we use Google Workspace), Calendly takes the hassle out of finding meeting times that work for everyone. Instead of sending emails back and forth, Calendly allows users to define their availability, and when a meeting is accepted, it automatically gets added to your calendar.  

Whenever I am working on a research and strategy project that requires scheduling many interviews, I am always supremely grateful that Calendly exists. It makes scheduling interviews so much easier. 

Cindy, Product Manager

7. Insight Timer

It’s easy to get bogged down and stressed out with how much product managers have to juggle. To wind down and keep their minds clear, some of our PMs use Insight Timer, a mindfulness app with more than 100,000 free guided meditations. From ambient background music to podcasts by leading meditation experts, the app has 200 categories to choose from, so there’s something to help everyone recharge.

Maybe not a product tool, but [it’s] just as important. Insight Timer allows you to set timers for meditations or listen to guided meditations. Giving your brain a quick break can be key in your busy day as a PM! 

Lindsay, Senior Product Manager

Interested in joining the Big Human team? Take a look at our Careers page for current openings and full job listings. 

November 16, 2021product management