The Power of Effective Product Ownership – Insight from Appsilon
This article is originally published at https://appsilon.com
In the dynamic world of product development, success often rests in the capable hands of a Product Owner. From our experience, good Product Owners play a vital role in steering projects towards triumph.
As our development teams collaborate closely with clients, we advocate for the appointment of a dedicated Product Owner on their side. Why? Because we recognize that the Product Owner’s influence can elevate the project and secure a final product with value.
However, the path to success is not without its challenges. A Product Owner must posses three traits:
- A visionary mindset – They must have a product vision, know the business domain, and be able to communicate it to the team.
- A vested interest – They must have dedicated time in the project, collaborating with both the development team and internal stakeholders to grasp the intricacies of their needs.
- An engaging leadership – They must engage users throughout the process, while also being empowered to make crucial decisions that will shape the final product.
If this sounds like you – you’re an ideal Product Owner. Contact us to discover how you’ll make all the difference in your product’s success.
If you have a project in mind and question the need for a Product Owner, join us as we explore two compelling stories from two real partnerships. One is an unfortunate tale of an Unsuccessful Product Owner and the other is our favorite story – the Successful Product Owner. We’ll provide valuable insights and guidance for Product Owners seeking to overcome obstacles and achieve better outcomes.
Table of Contents:
- Success in Development is a Product of Ownership
- Product Owners and Their Impacts on Challenging Projects
- Contrasting Product Owner Strategies for Product Release
Success in Development is a Product of Ownership
The stories begin the same for both Product Owners. Picture two companies, each on the cusp of a new software venture, seeking a trusted partner to craft cutting-edge R/Shiny dashboards. They discover Appsilon, a team that matches their needs and is well-known for technical expertise and project guidance.
After reaching out, a discovery call is set. When the cooperation discussions begin, Appsilon suggests appointing a Product Owner—a proposition that piqued the Company’s curiosity. Despite being new to this concept, they embrace the idea, sealing the deal, and commencing their collaboration. Little did they know that this seemingly small decision would lead to two distinct outcomes—a revealing tale of an Unsuccessful Product Owner and an inspiring account of a Successful Product Owner.
Unsuccessful Product Owner
The Unsuccessful Product Owner, let’s call him Bob, belonged to a team entirely unrelated to the application’s intended users. The application’s concept was entirely new to Bob, and he found himself scrambling to fill the knowledge gaps. To compound matters, Bob had joined the Company merely a month ago, transitioning from an entirely different domain.
As a result, the entire project proved to be very stressful for the Unsuccessful Product Owner. While the team diligently delivered functionalities, Bob struggled to provide timely feedback. The constantly shifting priorities only added to his burden, with requests for new functionalities promptly taking precedence and disrupting the sprint backlog. This environment made it challenging for the development team to maintain their focus.
Furthermore, three months into the project, a significant setback emerged – the data format underwent significant changes. Consequently, the development team had to invest an additional month to adapt the application to the new format. During a company meeting, Bob was informed that there will be a new data provider. Unfortunately, he did not connect this critical information to the app that he was responsible for.
Successful Product Owner
The Successful Product Owner, let’s call her Jane, knew the idea and desired purpose for the application long before the project began. The vision was so ingrained in her mind that it felt like it was her very own idea. Not only did she grasp the core problem that Users were encountering, but Jane had also personally experienced those challenges in the past. In fact, she had previously worked in the same position as the target Users. Armed with this unique perspective, Jane knew precisely how the app could provide meaningful solutions and make a positive impact.
Jane had also excellent knowledge of the domain. Having spent most of her life working in this area, she was the go-to person when her peers had questions. Additionally, Jane was working at the Company long enough to be able to connect the dots: she knew different people from different areas, knew when changes in the Company would affect the problem that the app is solving, and knew to whom to promote the app and where to look for help.
Thanks to Jane’s extensive knowledge and past experience, she was able to easily explain the app vision to the development team and establish full alignment between all stakeholders. And when a process change was planned in the Company, she quickly spotted its impact on the current problem that the app was solving and was able to adjust the course of the project to ensure it would remain useful for the users.
Product Owners and Their Impacts on Challenging Projects
The project continues with its routines, as well as some challenges. Two Product Owners, two different approaches to handling challenges. Let’s explore their contrasting journeys to find the art of product ownership and discover the impact they had on their respective projects.
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Unsuccessful Product Owner
Bob, the Unsuccessful Product Owner, had many priorities within his organization. Because of that, he struggled to fully concentrate on the app. He barely found time to test it himself. Nonetheless, Bob tried to attend review meetings regularly, believing it would help him maintain control over the development process.
Once developers started asking questions about the new functionality, but Bob didn’t know the answers himself. He assured his team he would return with answers soon. However, once Bob disconnected from the meeting, other company priorities took priority for him. Despite the developers’ attempts to contact him, Bob remained unresponsive, leaving them with no choice but to make decisions on their own as the deadline drew near. Armed with best intentions, but limited knowledge of the users, they delivered a functionality that ultimately proved to be of little use.
Successful Product Owner
Jane, the Successful Product Owner, was dedicated to app development. With the full support of her manager, she allocated three days a week, to focus entirely on the app. This availability allowed her to actively participate in scrum meetings, work extensively with the app herself , and offer the team valuable feedback that could be quickly addressed. Moreover, Jane readily accommodated ad hoc calls with developers, ensuring they had the necessary context and clarity on requirements whenever needed. Her close collaboration with the team fostered a streamlined development process and empowered the team to deliver exceptional results on time..
During the Product Owner’s absence on holidays, the team continued work without any blockers. Because of the time that Jane spent with the team previously, everyone had a unified understanding of the goal and the users’ needs. As a result, the developers could make certain development decisions themselves. When Jane returned, the mutual trust established resulted in autonomous, successful development.
Contrasting Product Owner Strategies for Product Release
Every app, at some stage, reaches the point when it can finally be showcased to the users. How the two Product Owners approach that is reflected in two completely different ways.
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In the next section, we’ll see the divergent approaches of Bob and Jane as they introduce their respective apps to the users, and how their distinct strategies influence the final product.
Unsuccessful Product Owner
Bob, the Unsuccessful Product Owner, remained unsure of the target audience for the app until it was almost ready. When he finally identified the users, he hesitated to show them the app until each and every backlog task was closed. Bob believed that if an unfinished app was presented, the users would lose interest in it and never come back.
Finally, when the app was ‘ready’, Bob organized a meeting for its presentation. Unfortunately, only 5 out of the 20 people invited attended the session. During the session, there was a lot of feedback. Users were raising items that weren’t clear for them and some key functionalities were missing.
When Bob returned to the development team, it became evident that several changes requested by the users would require substantial time to implement. These alterations significantly impacted the core of the app, with many elements already built on top of it. Consequently, Bob needed to find an additional budget for the app development in order to apply the users’ feedback.
When the new round of development started, the Product Owner simply relayed all the user feedback to the team. Some requests seemed to contradict each other, while others posed significant challenges by complicating the user interface. The team needed clarification and context, but Bob insisted, “just do what the users want, that’s the only way to make them use the app.”
When the app was finally ready and deployed to production, a surprising revelation surfaced – the app proved to be excessively complex, demanding extensive training for every new user. After analyzing the user stats, most of the users were only using a mere 5% of the functionality, while a staggering 50% of the functionality had never been used.
Successful Product Owner
Jane, the Successful Product Owner, engaged the user from the start of the project. Even before the development team began their work, Jane was proactively conducting interviews with the users, diligently collecting information about their pain points and needs. This early involvement with the users laid the foundation for a user-centric approach that would shape the app’s development.
Later during the development phase, Jane invited users to test the app. In the process, she managed to cultivate an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation around the app’s progress. Jane was collecting feedback and discussing it with the development team, so that the changes could be addressed promptly. By communicating changes and engaging users along the way, the users saw that they had a real impact on the shape of the app. This gave the users a sense of connection and deepened their engagement with the project.
Though Jane was collecting a lot of feedback, she analyzed each piece to discern what should be within scope of the app, what could be deferred for future updates, and what was interesting but not immediately applicable. This strategic approach allowed the team to stay focused on the main goal of the app while ensuring a clean and user-friendly interface. As a result, the first release provided the users with the most important features.
When the app was released, Jane organized a meeting, and all the stakeholders showed up. There were no surprises, as the users’ feedback had been regularly addressed. Right after launch the app adoption hit its targets. The successful outcome was a testament to Jane’s proactive approach in incorporating user input and setting the stage for a smooth, well-received app release.
Effective Product Ownership Insights in App Development
This is where the story ends for the Unsuccessful Product Owner – the app is now in production, but its result is far from impactful. The Company is already contemplating shutting it down and replacing it with a set of apps that offer better usability.
For the Successful Product Owner this milestone marks the beginning of a new chapter – the app garners immense success. It’s promoted within the company with internal recognition. Along the healthy lifetime of the app, it is discovered that other markets would also like to leverage it. Jane, the Product Owner, earned a well-deserved promotion.
It’s not easy to be a Product Owner. We understand this challenge, and we are committed to help the Product Owner achieve success. We make sure that each project has a dedicated Delivery Manager – an experienced professional in Product Management – whose primary goal is to support and guide you in elevating your product to new heights. With our team by your side, you can confidently navigate the intricacies of successful product ownership and drive your project towards exceptional outcomes.
If you want confidence in getting results, we’re here to deliver. Let’s talk.
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