Progression.fyi is the world’s largest repository of open source and public career progression frameworks. The majority of the frameworks are built for engineering teams, but there are also some great examples for designers and product managers.
Below are the top three most useful career progression frameworks for product managers on progression.fyi:
Cleo is a fintech startup that aims to help people manage their money in a fun and engaging way. The company has grown a lot since it launched in 2016 and now has more than 200 employees around the world.
This framework is built with Progression and is split into nine disciplines - engineering, operations, customer success, data, design, finance, marketing/growth, people and product.
The product framework contains five levels, with no specific job titles. Instead, the levels go from PM1 to PM5. This can make things easier for bigger teams (like Cleo’s), as you can group different job titles together into the same level, rather than having an overwhelming amount of information in your framework.
For smaller teams, this is good if you are still operating more of a flat structure, where everyone gets stuck in to different roles, and so specific job titles are not as significant as the level you’re operating in.
The disadvantage is reduced clarity, but this can be addressed by being explicit about which responsibilities and competencies each level encompasses. You can read more about the pros and cons of job titles versus levels here.
In Cleo’s framework, each PM level features 12 required skills and the proficiency a person needs to demonstrate in each skill in order to qualify for that level. We believe this number of skills per level is ideal, as it’s enough to be useful for both the employees and management, without being overwhelming.
The big advantage here is that each level also contains a salary band, which is something that many employees look for in a framework. You can read more about Cleo’s commitment to pay transparency and how they created their salary bands on their blog.
The information is presented in a really straightforward and engaging way, and demonstrates what Progression can offer to all types of teams in terms of structuring a career progression framework.
Intercom is a communication software company. It was launched in 2011 and has grown rapidly since. It now has more than 800 employees around the world, and five offices globally.
Intercom’s progression framework is split into two disciplines:
- Product & Content Design
- Product Management
The product management framework features five skill areas:
- Insight Driven
- Driving Outcomes
- Leadership Behaviours
These are further broken down into skill categories (like customer focus, strategy definition & influence and communication, for example), with specific skills listed under each category, along with the level of competency required for that level.
The levels on offer are Associate PM, PM, Senior PM and Principle PM.
It might all sound complicated, but the information is structured in a clear and digestible way. That said, the framework is presented on a pdf, so not very interactive and not the easiest to navigate.
Having the different levels side-by-side is helpful for comparing your current level against where you want to advance to, but you do need to do a lot of up and down scrolling to find the competency you want to look at.
On the plus side, Intercom offers a useful blog post covering the process behind their framework. You can also see their framework on the Progression app, which can help you compare the informational structure of the pdf against what the app can do (so you can decide if it’s suitable for your needs).
Iwoca has a straightforward framework designed to be as simple as possible for the reader to follow.
There are four frameworks on offer, one for each of these four roles - design, product manager, business analyst and delivery manager.
The PM framework is split into five levels, with no specific role titles (so simply level 1-5). Each level contains between 16-24 competencies, which are split into four categories:
- Leadership and influencing
- Data and insight
- Contextually (or product and process)
- Strategy and vision
It’s built in Notion, so not very intuitive to use, but it does provide good examples for skills you can repurpose for your own organisation.
Don’t be put off by the size of this framework. You can use however many skills per level as you see fit, but you don’t really need this many. We recommend around 10-15 skills per role level (this is so you don’t overwhelm your team, and also so it doesn’t take too long to build the framework).
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to build a career progression framework for your team. Some people love an Excel spreadsheet, whereas some run the other way when faced with one. So it’s a good thing you can create your framework using a variety of tools - Google-docs, Notion, Trello, or a dedicated platform, like Progression.
Another consideration is how interactive you’d like the framework to be for your employees. Dedicated platforms often provide additional options, such as progress tracking and role comparison. If you’re not too fussed about offering this to your employees, you can go for something like a spreadsheet, or even a pdf. Of course, you could always migrate your framework across to another tool if inspiration strikes!
If you're a product manager in a large company looking to get started, you should definitely read Intercom's blog post on how they create career paths for PMs. And if you want to get going quickly on creating your own framework, Cleo’s Progression template will be the best place to start (as it features more levels and the perfect number of skills for each one).