Tag Archives: Interview

Building a Product Owner – Existing Backlog

Product Owners – like great products – must be developed.  While some skills are innate, others must be learned and organizations tend to throw new Product Owners into the mix without adequate information. In this blog series, we have explored new product owners who are assigned to new products and those owning a system migration.  Now we are going to explore a new product owner who takes over an existing product with a robust product backlog.  In some respects, one might think this is the easiest of the three scenarios but it comes with its own set of challenges.  Here are some tips for how to get started.

1. Get to know your customers

The first step to get your arms around an existing backlog is to understand your current customers.  To do this, you need both

Backlog in Jira Agile

Backlog in Jira Agile

qualitative and quantitative information.  Data is always your friend.  How many customers do you have?  Are they profitable?  Are they the ideal customers that you want to attract?  Once you understand the numbers, now you need to actually talk to customers.  Schedule interviews with key customers – both happy ones and those that are frustrated.  Use your strong product management skills by asking open ended questions.  My favorite is “What keeps you up at night?”  Let your customers talk or complaint or suggest – wherever the conversation goes can be valuable.  Knowing who is buying your product is very important.

The Voice of the Customer

Part of Product Management and Agile Product Ownership is to incorporate the Voice of the Customer into whatever you are building.   Whether the customer is a farmer, a small business owner or a busy executive, it is the Product Manager’s job to get in their head and figure out how to solve their problems.  How do you know that you are getting the best information? 

voice_of_user2

Image Source: http://blog.mozilla.org/metrics/2009/07/13/does-mozilla-champion-the-voice-of-firefox-users/

Here are several methods of collecting data and each serves a particular purpose.

1. Interview

Meeting one-on-one with customers or prospects can enable you to collect great feedback.  The trick to the interviewing process is to ask open ended questions.  What is your number 1 business problem? What is the most time-consuming task in your day? What do you enjoying doing the most?  The data that you can gather from these conversations can be golden.  Make sure, though, that you remember that a single data point is just that.  Look for common threads from several conversations and solve the greater need.