Monday

Product Managers trading in land mines for gold mines

Is your product built on a gold mine or land mine?

As a product manager I would like to ensure that my product is built on solid technology so it can be maintained with minimal effort.

Scenario you’re a Product Manager, you work for a big organisation.  You inherit a product that causes you a lot of frustration because:
  • Your development/engineering teams have been diverted for a number of months to migrate legacy/unsupported databases across the portfolio of products to new DBS.
  • Your product is being migrated to a new CMS or other type of system.
  •  The platform is being rewritten from the ground up because the legacy technology is on its last legs.
The frustration is caused because your product is in lockdown meaning while development and engineering resources are being diverted to address the above-mentioned issues, or similar,  you can’t get the items on the top of your backlog done.  So what do you do?
Firstly realise that in all probability your product will be better off because of the technical work being carried out – especially if it’s going to empower your teams to do regular releases with minimal effort, therefore enabling you to create meaningful release plans, respond in a truly agile way to a rapidly changing market and to competitors who are much smaller, nimbler and don’t carry the overhead of a large company e.g. the checks and balances of Saranes-Oxley. 
 Secondly appreciate that the engineering and development teams would probably rather be developing and releasing features that are customer centric and data driven.  That’s to say developers generally get job satisfaction in seeing the products they build being used and appreciated by users as opposed to implementing technology for technology sake. 
 Thirdly understand it’s a means to an end – it’s a case of replacing the land mine you’re sitting on with a gold mine that if rightly managed (identifying the right market opportunities, being customer led and data driven, collaborating with technology, UX to discover the right product blend…) will produce golden nuggets of user valued features for many releases to come.
Finally take the time during lock down to do all those things that you don’t usually have the time to do or would like to do more of, including getting closer to the new technology that promises to enable a better future. 

In my career I’ve been through four lockdowns – one lasted for 9 months L because my development team was deployed in migrating sites to a new CMS, whilst painful at the time the wait was worth it.  The alternative is to end up spending +80% of your sprints paying back technical debt and fixing bugs (I’ve seen it happen and it’s  wasn’t a nice experience for the product manager) or worst still going out of business because you’re not agile enough to keep up with the demands of the fast pace changing digital world.




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