Criteo, Captain Train, Blablacar … How these French mid-sized companies manage their product management

by bold-lichterman

Essential to a company’s development, product management is not yet present in all growing companies. Out of 34 high-growth French companies studied by Josselin Perrus, independent product manager as part of his report State of Product Practices, 28 say they have a clearly defined “Product” function within their teams. These companies only made this choice once the “critical size has been reached”.

For this 38-page study including Frenchweb As he was told, Josselin Perrus focused on high-growth tech mid-cap companies, such as Criteo, Kiss Kiss Bank Bank, Captain Train, or even Blablacar.

To overcome this milestone and create the position of product manager, 8 companies preferred first to contract what the author calls a “product debt”: features that are little or not used, user journeys not optimized, or even a bad model. of data. Direct consequence: companies then encounter difficulties in delivering their value proposition to their users. What about product management within these companies, which have set up a dedicated function? 4 major trends emerge from this report.

1. The Product Management teams are gradually being formed

First observation, the organization of the “Product” function compared to the rest of the organization depends on the maturity of the company on the subject.

Among the 28 companies that have set up a product function, 11 have opted for an “organic” type organization (ie product managers work with a few developers, their respective areas of intervention are not defined). “This type of organization corresponds to companies which have not yet reached a critical size justifying the creation of teams.»Analyzes Josselin Perrus.

9 companies have opted for an “aligned” type organization (ie in agile teams, each mandated to intervene in certain areas of the product), corresponding to more mature companies.

In this case, the breakdown of the product perimeters can be done in different ways: according to the technologies used, according to the terminals used (mobile, web, desktop), or even according to major missions (acquisition, retention, etc. .). “Any logic of division, and therefore of “ownership” is double-edged: it allows on the one hand to clarify responsibilities and promote the autonomy of the teams. On the other hand, it creates “seams” between perimeters and therefore areas of uncertainty for initiatives which are located at the interface of two perimeters or which cross them.“, Warns the expert in product management.

2. The “Product” function focuses on product improvement

Another lesson from the study: a large majority of “Product” functions focus on product improvements, which are also arbitrated (26 out of the 28 questioned). We regret that it does not specify, in this case, who makes the decision on the improvements to be implemented. Slightly less than half of the companies surveyed (12 out of 28) say that their product function is also responsible for understanding the problems encountered by users in order to find solutions.

This situation is explained by the lack of bandwidth among the PM / PO (product managers / product owners, editor’s note) who do not have the capacity to take on Discovery activities while continuing to assume the daily management of sprints. And probably not a production-oriented cultural bias. Allocating Resources to Discovery Activities Requires Evangelism», Details Josselin Perrus. “However, a large proportion of the organizations questioned evoke a desire to step up in the Product Discovery dimension.»He concludes.


3. Understanding the client’s needs is not a reflex

First surprise of the report, 16 of the 32 companies that answered the question say they collect feedback from their customers “opportunistically”. Only 9 companies systematized the collection of this feedback; and among them only 2 have a problem-oriented collection (ie which seeks to understand the customer’s problem independently of the solution already developed).

Regarding the validation of their working hypotheses, the vast majority of respondents (23 companies out of 32) state that they validate these hypotheses during the post-production phase, that is to say when the product is already finalized. There are only 7 of them to validate their hypotheses during the research phase (that is to say when they formulate a response to the customer problem).


4. Use VS development: what to do with product data?

Having arrived at the phase of validating their working hypotheses, companies come up against two major operational obstacles: “For hardware or on-premise products, data collection is not always possible. In B2B, with a much smaller number of users / customers, the number of data points may be insufficient to form meaningful metrics»Explains the author of the report.

Despite these difficulties, the panel of companies studied still qualitatively assesses the effects of product improvements. 22 companies add an assessment of product usage data, 14 companies assess the impact of development on their upstream activity, 9 use quantified indicators to define their work priorities, and 8 of them use them to identify new opportunities.


Traditionally, Data Analytics (or Business Intelligence) is expensive in terms of tools and skills, which makes it a tool reserved for strategic decisions. (…) In some companies, the Data Analyst has become the 4th key skill of an Agile team, with development, Design and Product Management»For Josselin Perrus.

Once the product changes have been validated, it remains to align them with the business objectives of the company, but also with customer expectations, and the internal organization.

> Access the full study (38 pages)

** Methodology: Study carried out on the product management practices of 34 French companies, including Criteo, Kiss Kiss Bank Bank, Captain Train, Blablacar and Lengow. The figures were provided by the respondents themselves, interviewed on the basis of open questions.

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