Product Owners are sailors aboard the digital product development ship. They manage the product backlog: anticipate the users’ need and order feature items to best deliver user-centric solutions. How do they drive the boat?
At Thales Digital Factory, we aim to uncover the mysterious world and the odds of digital concepts. Let’s see how it works with one of our Product Owners here since early beginnings in 2017, Florent Madec:
So... You are a Product Owner, what does it mean?
Florent M.: To me, being a Product Owner at Thales Digital Factory results in doing whatever is needed to make the product successful and continuously trying to improve the Product Owner function.
Besides daily activities related to the Product Owner function, my role implies other activities leading to the product success like creating marketing videos, growth hacking, and working on legal and GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] topics.
I know that I’m doing the right thing if I meet 2 conditions:
The first one is to develop the right product and develop it the right way to make it usable. It implies a regular and predictable delivery pace, consistency in sharing the product business vision and objectives and in defining the “ready and done” for users' stories (based on users’ interviews). As part of the Thales Group, we are all about security which is handled through DevSecOps actions validated by penetration tests and bug bounties.
The second condition is to build a product of interest. It means monitoring analytics on usage and refining the roadmap based on the vision, the market and users’ insights.
Finally, be a Product Owner at the Digital Factory is also about sharing our ways of working for improvement. The goal is to continuously learn across peers and share tips helping us to tackle issues efficiently.
What is your typical day on a 12-week MVP project?
Florent M.: It depends on where we stand in the MVP lifecycle.
If we are at the early stage, I am involved with the Designer and the Technical Lead of the squad to ramp up on the subject: understanding business stakes, the product history, and identifying technical and data need.
During that step, I go on site to meet end users and validate the pains or issues they face. It helps identifying the best valuable areas we should focus on to tackle their challenges.
Once the product delivery has started, I dedicate my time coordinating the squad member and external actors in order to be ready at the right time. I make sure that features are designed, documented, discussed with the squad, then tested before pushed to production. Outside the squad, I manage stakeholders and refine priorities based on the product environment, mainly on security and legal aspects.
The next step consists in measuring the product usage on a daily basis to support future backlog decisions and to make the product successful. On a sprint basis, I evaluate the product satisfaction by gathering feedback which feeds my backlog as well.
Overall, my role involves many discussions with stakeholders to align the delivered features. That step is crucial as when we start a product, it is time-boxed, we don’t make any compromises on the quality delivered, so the only variable parameter is the scope of what we will deliver.
How do you convert a MVP into a user-adopted product?
Florent M.: We do products to solve issues. The deal is clear: if there is no pain, there is no product.
We meet with our users at the project early stage to make sure we understand what their pains are and what is their work environment. This way, our product will fit and bring value to them.
Later on, we design the product user interface and test it with users as soon as possible. We gather their first feedback and correct mock-ups before writing any line of code [in reference to our previous article “UX and UI Design: How We Build User-Centric Applications”].
We can then start identifying early adopters of the tool and keeping them informed on the estimated delivery through a product roadmap. At Thales Digital Factory, we strongly vouch for transparency and this is when users can raise any concerns or insights. We support users when they first use the application to ensure that the gap between the prototype and real application is minimized. On top of that, we use analytics to balance test results and real usage behaviors. This leads to backlog refinement.
And last but not least, my job consists in leading the change management with the squad, stakeholders and early adopters to scale the product usage and iterate. On to the next product after that!