The Complete Guide to Platform Product Management: Everything You Need to Know

As a business, you know that in order to be successful, you need to have a product that is managed effectively. But what if your product is a platform? What then?

Platform product management (PPM) is a unique beast, and it requires its own set of skills and knowledge in order to be a successful product manager in this space.

In this guide, we will cover everything there is to know about platform product management: from the process involved, to tips and tricks for making the most of your platform, to why it is so important.

Are you ready to become a platform product manager? Let's get started!

What is a platform product?

At its most basic, a platform product is a product that is built on top of another platform. For example, Facebook is a platform product because it was built on top of the internet. Twitter is also a platform product because it was built on top of SMS technolog

There are two key things to note about platform products: first, they are the platform itself, and second, they are a platform for other products.

This means that platform products need to be managed in such a way as to ensure their continued success, but also so that they can continue providing value for others who use them. This is why it is unique: because it must take into account both aspects of platform products, platform and platform-for-others.

What is a platform vs a product?

A platform is a technology that enables the development of other technologies. For example, computers are platforms because they can be used to build other products like word processors or games. Another example would be cellphones which enable the creation and use of apps on their platform (iOS, Android or other operating systems). A platform can also refer to an infrastructure or system that provides a foundation for other products or services.

A product, on the other hand, is something that is created using one or more platforms. So Facebook and Twitter are both platform products, but the iPhone is not a platform product because it was not built on top of any other platform. It uses cellular networks and operating systems to provide its users with a product (an app)

What is platform product management and what is the role of the platform product manager?

It's important to have soft and hard skills as a platform product manager. The platform product manager's job is to create a platform that provides value for both users and developers alike. Platform product managers are responsible for the design, development, marketing, support and maintenance of their platform's features as well as ensuring that those features meet the needs of platform users.

The platform product manager is also responsible for building relationships with platform partners and third-party developers who can help them create new features or improve existing ones on their platform.

These platform partners include companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google which offer APIs that allow other apps to integrate into their platforms seamlessly (e.g., Facebook's "Like" button or Twitter's tweet box).

Platform partners and third-party developers are essential to a platform product manager.

What is the primary goal of a platform product manager?

The primary goal of the platform product manager role is to ensure that their platform remains successful and valuable for both users and developers.

This means platform product managers and the platform PM facilitate the building a platform that is easy to use and navigate, while also providing the features and tools that developers need in order to create great products.

A platform product manager must also be good at marketing their platform so that it gains a large user base, and a platform product manager must also be able to support and maintain their platform over time.

What are the key steps in PPM?

There are four key steps in that a platform product manager, platform PM and the team will follow: ideation, development, launch and iteration.


This is the process of coming up with new ideas for platform features. This can involve brainstorming sessions with team members which are led by the platform product manager, researching what other platforms are doing, and talking to platform users and developers to get their feedback.


This is where ideas turn into actual platform features or products that can be released on the platform by the development team.

This typically involves creating prototypes in order to test out how the feature will work, writing code and then testing it out with users and developers.


This is the process of releasing those features or products on to the platform. This involves announcing them to the world, getting user feedback and making any necessary changes based on that feedback.


This is the process of repeating steps two through four in order to continue improving the platform.

This involves listening to feedback from users and developers, making changes to the platform based on that feedback and then releasing those changes back out to the world.

The benefits of platform product management

There are a number of benefits of becoming a platform product manager or working in PPM, including:

  • A platform product manager and the team will have a lot of control over the platform and can create new features and products that users and developers will love.
  • Platform product managers are able to work closely with platform partners, who help make the platform better for everyone involved by developing their products and services on top of it.
  • It's very rewarding to be a platform product manager because you get to see how your platform changes people's lives for the better every day through new features or products that solve problems in an innovative way.

Different types of product teams (Core, Platform, Growth, First)

So you started job hunting to be a platform product manager or a platform PM and you realized not every product group is born alike. Being a platform product manager and what that entails is tied to the team you join.

Core Teams

A Core team is focused on a single product and its success. The majority of the work for a Core platform product manager is in understanding customer needs, designing solutions, working with engineers to build the product, and then shipping it to customers.

Core teams can be found in both startup and enterprise companies. In smaller startups, there may only be one or two product managers in charge of a single platform.

In larger enterprises, there are usually multiple core teams that work together on different products or features for the same platform. For example, Google has several core teams working on search engine optimization (SEO) and other facets of its platform; each team works independently from one another but collaborates closely with other teams on platform-level projects.

Growth Teams

A Growth team is focused on growing the user base or revenue for a single platform. This type of team works closely with marketing and sales to understand how people find out about their platforms (and why they don't), then uses that information to drive growth initiatives.

Growth teams don't necessarily build products, but they can be responsible for platform-level initiatives that affect the entire product suite. For example, if a platform team wants to introduce new pricing tiers and billing options into their platform, this will likely require some growth work as well since customers need to sign up or upgrade before they can use the new features.

First Teams

The First team works to develop core platform features on a platform. This type of team often has the most difficult job, as they need to figure out how to design and build a product that meets customer needs while also laying down the foundation for other products on the platform.

First teams can be found in startup companies only. They're typically composed of a product manager, engineer, and designer. The platform product manager role may not exist in this scenario as the platform is just being conceived.

Platform Teams

A platform product team is a team of people who work together to create and manage a platform. The team typically includes members from different departments, such as marketing, development, user experience (UX) and operations. This allows for better collaboration and communication between all the different parts of the platform team.

A platform team manages the platform and all its features or products. This involves creating new ideas for platform features, developing those ideas into actual platform features, announcing them to users and developers on the platform, listening to their feedback about those platform features, making any necessary changes based on that feedback and then releasing those changes out back onto the platform.

In addition, platform product teams also work on continuously improving the platform by listening to feedback from users and developers, making changes based on that feedback and then releasing those changes back out onto the platform.

Making the shift to Platform Product Management

If you're thinking about making the shift, here are some tips to help you make the transition:

  • Read books on the subject, such as Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You by Geoffrey Parker, Marshall Van Alstyne and Sangeet Paul Choudary or Platform Scale: How an emerging business model helps startups build large empires with minimum investment by Sangeet Paul Choudary.
  • Talk with platform product managers who've already made the shift
  • Set up informational interviews with platform PMs and ask them about their experiences making the switch from traditional product management to PPM.
  • Attend conferences, such as Platform Summit or the PLMx conference.

The big picture

In platform product management, there are many different aspects that go into making a platform successful. These include the platform's design, features and functionality as well as how users interact with it.

If you're looking for a product management role and want to specialize in platform products, these tips will get you started.  However, PPM is a unique specialization and it's important to understand the big picture before making any decisions.

There are many different aspects to becoming a platform product manager, such as learning the process, getting familiar with tips and tricks and brushing up your platform skills.

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