In Leaders to Leaders this time we get to meet you with a Senior Product Manager in the UK’s Ministry of Justice. Her name is Irina Pencheva and she shared more on the role of the PM in the public sector and how to effectively build and manage mission statements and roadmaps.
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Irina is a professional with a history in Business Analysis and Product Management in the public and private sectors in the UK. She has valuable insights on building a product from scratch.
What is interesting in the public sector is that we have a very strong mission and a mission is basically something a bit bigger than just the user needs or delivering commercial goals. But it is actually about solving larger social or environmental, or big problems, she says.
The Role of the Product Manager
The role of the PM, just like in the private sector, is to help teams set a vision, a strategy, and a mission for the product or the service they are responsible for, says Irina. So they are ultimately accountable for the success of their product and it is really important that the PM sets a clear and inspirational vision for their teams, which fits with the overall ambitions of the organisation or the company. And the PM’s role is to essentially translate the organisation’s vision or ambitions into tangible product development work or a tangible mission that a team or a set of teams can achieve and it’s the role of the PM.
How to Build a Roadmap?
We all know that roadmaps are key to Product Managers. This is why we focused bigger attention on them in our conversation with Irina. She shares that once you have a clear vision, or mission for what you are trying to achieve over a certain period of time, let’s say a quarter or two, or longer of course, you can then break the whole idea down into specific objectives and key results and those objectives and key results can build into a tangible roadmap with specific milestones over a certain time frame with specific deliverables, as well, and with various work streams or objectives that your teams are trying to achieve as a part of that.
Key Roadmap Rules
The first rule is it is a team sport. The second rule on roadmaps for me is that they should be SMART, so specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound. This is very much like the thing that when you do personal objectives, you need them to be SMART. The third important rule is: the roadmap should be flexible and iterated continuously. It’s no good creating a roadmap at the start of a project and then leaving it and never iterating it, or as you learn continuously about the users and your product and your development or as things happen that you don’t change that roadmap.
The Roadmap as a Communication Tool
So ultimately a roadmap is a communication tool, says Irina. And you have different audiences: one is your team, because it helps them follow and understand if they are on track and how the current work in the backlog fits with the wider time horizon and the overall product, so definitely they have to be part of the creation and updating process. You also have your senior stakeholders. And for them the roadmap is a good way to share your progress and development and also it is a good way for them to feed into the very high level strategy; how that fits with the specific products or with the product teams you are responsible for. And as a company as well, having a product roadmap overall – how that fits with implementation. Other audiences that Irina also thinks are important are your end users or customers, especially in a B2B setting. It allows your customers to plan around you in their releases or in their work. And many companies nowadays have a public roadmap. This really helps to understand what is coming up and how that would impact the end users.