Product Strategy Highlight

User Needs + Business Needs = Product Strategy. I've been on both sides of this coin, as a product owner more firmly aligned with business, and an experience designer advocating for users. I've done the job in house (pretty straightforward) and at an agency (less so). 

Getting all teams on the same page is, above all, about clear, empathic communication. Whether I am the product owner, or working with one, I prefer a collaborative, transparent approach in which all questions and opinions are welcomed. 

Setting and Executing a Product Vision

As a product owner at 20th Television Fox, I represented the business while working with an outside agency. The products -- mainly online games -- were directly informed by needs I heard from users and opportunities that I identified while embedded on several different shows. Now on the agency side, I play the product owner role and set vision more collaboratively with the client.

Writing User Stories / Requirements

The format of requirements can change slightly depending on the needs of the project, and at what point they are written. Sometimes user stories make the most sense while other times, a simple functional statement is needed. I alter my spreadsheet based on a number of factors.

Testing with Users From the Start

At job search startup Revolution Careers, testing with hiring companies was an integral part of the process from the start. As a tiny, agile team, we were able to integrate feedback and iterate very quickly.

Providing Team Direction

On agile projects, once the stories have made it into software tracking systems, regular communication with the team -- at the right moments -- is key to success. Collaborating with designers and developers on writing acceptance criteria can also help everyone understand what's needed and feel a sense of ownership.

Tracking Changes Over Time

Different from in-house product management, owning a product at an agency is an exercise in meticulous record keeping. As changes come through, the source and rationale for each request must be recorded and, later, communicated. While this would be good practice anywhere, at an agency it's an essential tool for client understanding, and to protect ourselves.