Product Management

How will it get done?

I will manage the product using the following philosophies and skills:

 

Agile methodology

I use agile methods to determine both user and client requirements for websites and delivering quality solutions in a highly flexible manner.

Experienced in running Sprints and Lean Agile work flows as scrum master and product manager I have found Agile methodologies to be an extremely effective way of delivering what is needed in a timely manner.

Kanban

Kanbab is a scheduling system for lean and just-in-time (JIT) production. This is the board I ran at IMC group whilst building The Telegraph Entertainment website.

kanban board

It had 8 columns

  • Backlog
  • Blocked
  • Ready for development
  • In Progress
  • Development complete
  • In Test
  • Test Complete
  • Live

People added their avatar to the task that they were working on and would only work on one task at a time.

When bugs were found during testing the task card was marked with a red dot and placed back into 'Ready for development' by the tester.

The Kanban board provided a highly visual and simple representation of where we were at any point in time. It was a great help in prioritising new and existing tasks with the business.

Retrospective

A Retrospective is a meeting held at the end of a sprint to discuss its successful elements and those that could be improved. The aim is to ensure that teams continue to incorporate the ‘good things’ in the future whilst fixing whatever is broken or requires improvement.

Read more about the format of a retrospective in my 'Retrospective' blog post.

retrospective doodles

 

Good judgement and pragmatism

I prioritise tasks based on business requirements, user needs and the resources available. Sometimes tough decisions have to be made in high pressure situations and through years of experience I feel well positioned to make those decisions with a clear head.

I am a firm believer that the quickest way to solve a problem is through a high quality solution - however, sometimes one has to be pragmatic - cut the corner, raise a technical debt and build a better quality solution later.

 

Communication

The team who are building the product, key stake holders and the business as a whole should feel well informed about the project and be regularly updated as to its progress. This can be achieved through demonstrations of the latest features, sharing time lines and giving regular progress reports in the form of highlights for the week that include any issues with mitigation for each where possible.

A Kanban board provides a highly visible and easy to understand way for everyone to monitor progress of tasks.

I endeavour always to be open, honest and foster a spirit of ownership and mutual respect to all involved.

 

Diplomacy

Not everyone’s ideas will make it into a product. There is a very little chance of everyone agreeing on the highest priority task or best solution for a bug. In my experience as long as people feel that they are given a fair hearing and that their ideas have been taken on board then they will generally accept a decision going against them.

There should be mutual respect across the organisation from top to bottom. People will disagree, debate and even fall out from time to time. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Feeling passionate about what we are working on is good and disagreements can provide the spark that ignites great solutions and ideas.

 

Enabling and empowerment

A Product Manager should enable team members to perform to the best of their abilities by providing all necessary information that they require. They should help team members over any hurdles and nudge tasks along by removing ‘blockers’. The PM should try to ensure that people are not over engineering or over thinking tasks. It takes time and patience but can be very rewarding both in results and seeing others succeed.

Keeping the team happy and motivated is key to delivering a quality product. The team needs to be emotionally invested in what they are creating. In order to ensure that their ‘care factor’ is high then they will need to feel like they have control over their environment, their opinion is respected and that they are valued as part of the team. The team's opinion on the approach to a task is invaluable in creating a quality product. My advice is to listen to it, make the team feel good about their contribution and get better results.

 

Always striving to improve

Product managers are responsible for the overall and ongoing success of a product. Assumptions have to be tested in the real world, success and failure can be measured and improvements will need to be made. The launch of a product is just the start as the real improvements will come from user feedback and real world experience.

The product manager remains to manage the product through its entire life cycle. Once launched the cycle starts again:

  • Evaluate
  • Capture Requirements
  • Prototype
  • Design
  • Build
  • Release
  • Repeat