We do the nitty-gritty product management so you don’t have to
For us, excellent product management means keeping our clients focused on outcomes, not output. We’re not just a “feature factory.” We’re here to ensure you’re actually making progress with your product.
Here’s what we do with our product management clients:
- Maintain an up-to-date product roadmap consisting of organised and prioritised themes
- Craft and promote the product vision designed to set the tone and inspire direction
- Provide alignment between all stakeholders
- Conduct in-person workshops to act as energisers and aid with alignment, using a variety of techniques and strategies. Some of our fun favourites are Newspaper Headline, Design Squiggle and Idea Beetle.
- Expert Ruby on Rails development, including high-quality code, bug fixes, quality assurance, testing
- Clear, consistent communication from your project lead
Risks of not managing your product
A lack of what we call “product discipline” sets projects back in the long run.
What this looks like is being reactive and making short-sighted, knee-jerk development decisions.
Or, perhaps your developers are accustomed to working without much direction or oversight. That autonomy is nice for them, but not for your budget or timelines. Issues like re-work, gold-plating, and devs “tripping over each other” crop up.
By contrast, product discipline involves scoring new requests in two areas—Impact and Effort—and keeping developers focused on solving a clearly defined problem together instead of “exploring” it and adding random features in an unconstrained manner.
Another risk is a lack of a guided, long-term product vision
Product vision keeps stakeholders aligned, and without it, people default to advocating for their own needs.
For example, let’s say a handful of users are making noise about needing a new feature. Their urgency infects everyone, and it wins out over more strategic features, fixes, and functionality. Little requests seem harmless, inconsequential, at first, but they’re termites that can quickly eat up the budget.The true cost of that “theft” of dev hours doesn’t become apparent until later when the product owners see a lack of progress on the long-term product vision. Meanwhile, maintenance and technical debt accumulates, and the product’s integrity is seriously compromised.
Those needs don’t always line up with the vision and will cost the business in the long run.
Having a clear product vision championed and protected by someone with authority to make decisions (and veto detours) ensures that you spend your development budget on what matters most.
There’s a third risk related to the two already mentioned: a lack of strong facilitation by someone who can get the best from all stakeholders.
Producing great software outcomes requires a cross-functional team of stakeholders, subject matter experts, and of course engineers. You end up with a chaotic circus if you don’t learn how to manage some dangerous animals—hat tip to our partners at ProductBoard for the metaphors.
The antidote is an effective facilitator who can draw on each individual member’s strengths as the team identifies key “themes” tied to bigger product goals and vision, sets priorities for each theme, and produces better outcomes with focused development sprints.
Strong facilitation produces strong outcomes.
Starting new relationships
One thing that sets Foxsoft apart is how we kick off a new product management relationship.
We’ll carve out time together away from your day-to-day responsibilities so that you can focus exclusively on the problems at hand.
We also reduce friction. Your key stakeholders will be aligned on goals and development priorities and have a consensus around the roadmap for getting there.
We save our product management clients money and time in the long run because we don’t waste resources on developing the wrong things. We help our clients stay focused on the product vision, and achieve that product vision and business goals—instead of eating up budget with what *feels* urgent right now.
We’ll maintain the system and ensure they remain operational to protect the business from security risks and data breaches.
We think about the users of the system and what they need, but always mindful that while they absolutely should have a say (either as customers of the company, or as employees of the company), the stakeholders who are responsible for the budget have the final decisions. We help them to make the best decisions to try to achieve the holy grail of happy users/customers and exceptional value from their budget – which is why it’s all about making sure the money is spent on doing the right things at the right time
None of this work is “extra” to what needs to happen for effective software development – the only difference is we’re doing it slightly sooner in the process, with the three disciplines present, to help avoid and plan for problems before they arrive.
As for our product management process, we never work or make decisions in isolation. Moving your product forward is always a collaborative effort where we always make decisions with the key stakeholders on your side, and you always understand what we’re working on and why.
- We start with a 1-day product roadmapping workshop where we identify the destination, main obstacles, and main “themes”, or high-level problems to be solved.
- In a series of more tactical workshops, we work with you to refine the initial requirements and set the acceptance criteria.
- We put together the first batch of user stories and development sprints.
- In regular cycles, we meet to align on the next theme, user stories, and development sprints.
If your product vision is still pretty vague or your last experience with an agency was disappointing, then let’s chat.