How do you structure your product team?

In technology companies, product development is undeniably the lifeblood of the business. It must be based on a perfect understanding of user needs, and aim for continuous improvement, through the introduction of new functionalities and optimization of the user experience.

To meet these objectives, you need a high-performance product team. Without the right profiles, skills and organization, it's impossible to build a good product.

So which profiles are essential in a product team? Which skills should be mobilized according to your company's stage of maturity? Here's what we have to say.


The different profiles of a product team


Here are the classic professions in a Product team:

  • The Head of Product or Chief Product Officer

Depending on the size and organization of the company, he may also be called Lead Product or Product Director. His role is to build the product vision and set objectives, ensuring alignment between the roadmap and business priorities. He also defines the team structure and plays the role of strategic manager. He or she generally reports to the CTO, or directly to the company's CEO in the case of a start-up, for example.

  • The Product Manager or Product Owner

He/she is responsible for the product or part of the product, from design to delivery to users. He or she is responsible for coordinating the work of the technical teams on the product, and for ensuring collaboration with the company's various departments (marketing, sales, legal, etc.). In organizations using the Agile method, the term Product Owner is generally used to refer to an essentially operational role, whereas the term Product Manager often designates a more strategic role.

  • The Product Designer

His role is to optimize the user experience, by creating an ergonomic and functional product, adapted to their expectations and uses. They generally work with UX and UI Designers, or have these skills themselves.

  • Product Ops

A relatively new profession in Product Departments, it aims to facilitate the work of the team to improve performance. To achieve this, they work on optimizing processes, tools and information flows, to improve collaboration between the various stakeholders.

In addition to these classic professions, there are a host of more specialized ones, often on the borderline with other departments within the company: Product Marketing Manager, Data Product Manager, Growth Product Manager...

Product teams always work closely with technical teams, front-end and back-end developers, as well as marketing and design teams.

If you're recruiting specialized Product talent and are having trouble identifying and finding the right profiles (because they're rare), don't hesitate to call on Exclesior's services.


Product team organization models


Classic structures : 

  • Component team organization: teams are divided according to their expertise (e.g. UX, front-end, back-end...) and are responsible for a specific component of the product.
  • Feature team" organization: teams are multi-disciplinary and specialized by functionality or by stage of the user journey.
  • The "impact teams" organization: teams are dedicated to a precise objective or a specific persona.
  • Hybrid or flexible organization: this model is a mix between component teams and feature teams, and aims to create multi-disciplinary teams to meet specific business needs.

The choice of structures depends of course on the business and technical constraints of each company, as well as the methodologies followed: for example, Scrum, SAFe, or the Spotify model, which is based on the creation of "Squads" and "Chapters". Many companies create their own structural models for their product teams.


Some examples of product team organization

The easiest way to decide on the structure of your Product team is to take inspiration from what has already been tried and tested in other companies.

Here are a few useful resources, with concrete feedback on structuring the product teams of major tech names, in France and abroad:

Best practices for structuring your product team


✅ Above all, culture produces

The success of a product team depends on more than just its members. All the organization's stakeholders must be aligned with the product vision and strategy. Hence the importance of what we call "product culture".

Product culture refers to the set of values, attitudes and decision-making processes that place the product at the heart of the organization.

In particular, it requires appropriate governance and a strong culture of performance measurement and monitoring. It is essential to set the right objectives for the product team, using the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) method for example.

✅ A progressive product team

The right model for your product team is in fact the model that is adapted to your context and your company's needs. It depends on multiple parameters, such as your maturity phase, your ecosystem, your product's lifecycle...

The structure of a product team is never static; on the contrary, it is constantly evolving as the company develops. It's essential to review your organization regularly, especially if your company is experiencing strong growth.

Finally, it's rare to find the right organization the first time. Sometimes it's necessary to test different configurations before defining the ideal model.

✅ Smaller squads

Whether you choose to organize your team into "component teams", "feature teams", or some other model, make sure you form small mini-teams to encourage collaboration and communication.

There's a consensus on the number of members to bring together: around 8 people. This is known as the "pizza team" rule (the group must be able to share 2 pizzas while eating to their heart's content).

✅ The right profiles, at the right time

The choice of profiles to integrate into your Product team obviously depends largely on your company's stage of growth and your level of maturity in this area.

If you're a start-up with a small team and a fast-moving environment, give preference to "full-stack" profiles, with fairly generalist skills. If, on the other hand, your team has a certain size and a certain seniority, give preference to specialized profiles with expertise in their field.

Need help recruiting the best profiles for your product team? Excelsior can help, by putting people at the heart of your recruitment. Find out more about our services!