The Product Owner / Manager role is a new(er) concept in the grand scheme of things. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know that this role existed when I was in high school and college, as its definition was just being authored, but yet here I am. There are countless articles and blogs around the topic of Product Owner, but considering its contemporary nature, there is also a lot of confusion around who and what a Product professional really is. In a sea of opinions, the sake of this note is to summarize why MercuryWorks champions the Product role.
What are the textbook responsibilities of a Product Manager?
According to the Scrum Guide, the Product Manager is accountable for maximizing the value of a Product. That (somewhat ambiguous) statement is humbly followed by, “How this is done may vary widely across organizations.” The guide then goes on to list the other responsibilities of the Product person, such as:
- Developing and explicitly communicating the Product Goal
- Creating and clearly communicating Product Backlog items
- Ordering Product Backlog items
- Ensuring that the Product Backlog is transparent, visible, and understood
How does MercuryWorks explicitly apply this in the real world?
Yes, the primary role of the Product Manager is to “maximize value”. Value comes in many shapes, however, and building a new software product is an extremely dynamic venture. There are timelines to manage, budgets to track, features to flesh out, evolving industries, competing priorities, stakeholders to manage, among many other things. The Product Manager is indeed accountable…for all of it. So, in short, the maximum value that our Product Managers add to Product Development is ensuring it all happens, and happens as smoothly as possible.
Our Product Managers certainly are responsible for communicating the Product goal to the rest of the (development) team members, and we do this by spending a lot of time with our clients. Not incessant, wasteful time, but investing in rich conversations with our client’s stakeholders, so that we understand their business, their needs, their vision, their industry, their goals, and the end-game. We treat it like our own.
While investing time into intimately understanding our client’s business and goals, we’re authoring a Product Backlog (list of features that make up the Product as a whole), and “ordering” those items (prioritizing in rank of importance), so that the rest of the development team has a pecking order. Our Product Managers are deeply in-tune with the team, guaranteeing that desired outcomes are always understood, and we do this through actual conversations (our teams meet daily, and sometimes hourly, to dive into details as a unit). In essence, we keep the team fueled with things to work on and features to ship.
The more implicit side…
There is plenty of formal training out there (which our Product Managers have been traditionally educated in) that instruct one how to “do” Product, but only experience reveals how to “be” Product. Aside from the textbook definitions, the Product Manager is a translator, a negotiator, a psychologist, and an entrepreneur. MercuryWorks brings this diversity to the table.
Our Product folks translate for a living. We talk business, we talk operations, and we definitely talk tech. And, we adapt to our audience, so that we keep the “transparent, visible, and understood” spirit thriving. Our Product team members are expert negotiators. There are a lot of decisions to make while developing custom software, so continuously working out win-win scenarios is a true art. Building custom software is also a very complex process, and sometimes it is the Product Manager’s job to talk stakeholders through the process, to make them feel confident, and to help alleviate any anxieties.
Finally, an exceptional Product Manager thinks like an entrepreneur. Product Managers need to fully understand the impact of a given software product on a business. They need to understand true “business value”, whether that be enhancing customer delight, driving licensing revenue, adding customers, automating a manual process (and saving overhead), or disrupting a static industry with new technologies. Software is a big investment, so our Product Managers are equipped to understand how software is meant to be monetized, and to ensure our clients are truly getting the highest return on their investment.
The world of software development is getting bigger. There are more technical options than ever, the world is picking up speed, and having a firm with a strong Product game can help you navigate those complex waters. MercuryWorks has decades of software development expertise, industry competence, and Product know-how to bring your visions to life.
You can read more about our up-front Strategy and Planning sessions, where we do an introductory deep-dive into our client’s business and start to formulate a Product Roadmap here.
Thank you for reading!