An increasingly qualified profession
An evolving profession
Often reachable through platforms, Product Owners can no longer have simply an operational role and limit themselves to the mere movement of information.Their mission, in a context of agile transformation, requires analytical, diagnostic and advisory skills.
The Product Owner needs to act with agility and offer comprehensive support beyond the provision of resources. With the transformation of IT Departments, its role has become central, supervising the entire product transformation process. A PO must be organised and professional, of course, but also capable of interpreting forecasts and committing to strategic proposals.
A change in time frame
Product Management mainly considers the creation of software as a whole. Manufacturing a product means making it and monitoring its evolution throughout its life cycle. There is no longer any distinction between a build phase and a run phase that would be left to demand. Product Management is a continuous process that runs over the entire life of the software.
In concrete terms, it is not only a question of breaking up requirements and specifications into small units known as User Stories, we must go further. Formalising a requirement as a unitary use case centred on the customer’s expectations is only the visible part of the subject. The transformation is more extensive than it seems.
To implement these changes and lead product strategy within the framework of a structured approach for big corporations, it is necessary to have quality profiles that synthesise the pragmatism and boldness of a startup mindset with the methodological rigour of consulting.
We believe that making these experts grow means offering them a path of skills development based on several elements. First, the consultant’s hard and soft skills.
Then, a methodological study of Lean Startup, Agile, Product Management and Scaled Agile (SAFe) frameworks. These experts can also upgrade the core skills of the Product Owner, such as strategic analysis, economic modelling, marketing, data analytics, customer experience and a good understanding of IT and application architecture. Finally, these experts will also discover different technologies (AI, Blockchain, IoT), the different roles that contribute to the creation of a software product (architect, Ux, developer), the different sectors of activity and functional domains, as well as complementary methods (design thinking, graphic facilitation).
Understanding uncertain environments through an agile approach: changing the practices, organisation and culture in the company
A Product Manager works with agile methods. In an uncertain environment, this approach has proven to be more effective than traditional project management methods. In the context of regulatory changes or digital innovation, the time horizon is measured in months or even weeks, rather than years.
As a result, agility spreads in organisations under the impulse, most often, of the IT Department. It aims to modernise its methods and better meet business expectations in terms of scalability, responsiveness and, more generally, time to market.
These approaches range from testing the Scrum method on a new, innovative and digital project, to deploying a complete agility framework at the scale of a department or even the IT Department. This change is often accompanied by an Agile Transformation programme, supported by Agile Coaches from the Industry and Technology area.
To fully benefit from agile, its adoption by the company must be global. On the business side, it is essential. Changing practices, organisation and culture is necessary to implement effective product management.
Several areas of transformation will need to be taken into account by the company to optimise the Product Ownership environment:
- Specific focus should be placed on the continuous monitoring of the product portfolio at a managerial level rather than having an annual meeting coinciding with budget preparation.
- Portfolio and product management will be driven by the value delivered to internal clients and external customers, rather than by the « Scope – Cost – Deadlines » triptych.
- It will be necessary to allocate functional and business teams time to take care of the product, as long as it exists in the company’s catalogue.
- Current activities of functional and business teams must be reorganised and reassigned accordingly.
- Requirements are conceived as a minimal feature in the short term with scope for improvement, rather than trying to describe all the features that could be useful in the long term.
- Work methods are evolving towards collaboration and co-construction rather than a hierarchical approach.
- The delegation model will be redesigned to allow decision-making and priority-setting to happen as closely to the team as possible, and even to simplify decision-making processes
- These changes require the validation of product ideas by the market and customers in a test & learn approach rather than by expert opinions or studies from opinion institutes.
- It will be a question of agreeing to review the approach adopted, by revising it or abandoning it, if the field test is not conclusive.
- It is essential to combine the complementary skills of Business, UX, Design, Data, or Growth teams.
Companies must be supported in their product transformation, depending on their level of maturity and their specific organisation and market. This is achieved through the design and implementation of the product transformation plan. It can also be achieved through a co-development of the product itself, followed by the transfer of skills and responsibilities to customer teams once the various roles of the product management process are well established (mainly Product Strategist / Product Manager / Product Owner).
The customers who have already set up a product management process but who wish to increase their maturity and efficiency, can have product performance support through high-level coaching to eventually reach the level of the product teams of key market players, such as the GAFAs.