18 Νοε 2022
Part 3 - What does a Product Owner at Denovo do?
In the third part of our interview series, we present the profession of "Product Owner:in". We asked Kerstin Vidovic questions about her job and her career and got an exciting insight into her work.
Since when are you a product owner?
I worked in IT project management for 6 years. After that, I became aware of Denovo and then started here as a Product Owner in August 2021.
What kind of training did you do?
You might expect that you need a technical education for the job as a Product Owner:in. But I don't have that. However, I do have two completed master's degrees in business administration. I took my first steps in a technical environment as an IT project assistant and learned a lot through my own interest and by asking my more experienced colleagues questions. This gave me a basic understanding of the problems in IT, interrelationships and interfaces.
What is your role as a product owner all about?
Product owners take care of the implementation of products. You are responsible for the product and the value generation by your team. In simple terms, you are the interface between the customer or user and the development team. You are responsible for the coordination and communication between the customer and the team, so that the product vision is implemented in the best possible way. As a product owner, I am also always the first point of contact when it comes to clarifying any questions from the developers.
"You are responsible for the product and the value generation by your team."
What are your tasks?
Even before the project starts, there is the workshop phase with the customers or users. I'm already involved in these, because I accompany the entire process as a product owner from the very beginning. During the user journey workshop, we assess the scope of the project and develop a basic concept. Based on the resulting concept, I write user stories and fill the backlog. I prioritize the user stories, perform an estimation with the developers in the refinement and plan the individual sprints. If the customers/users are satisfied with the implementation of the individual stories after the sprint review and accept the product, we can complete the sprint and deliver the software. Then the whole thing starts all over again in the next sprint. A sprint is the period of time for which we iteratively plan and lasts 2 weeks for us.
How is a project team organized at Denovo?
At Denovo, each product has a product owner and a technical lead, so to say a main developer who is responsible for the entire technical side. Depending on the size of the product, there is also a team of developers. As mentioned above, people from other areas, such as management and sales, are also involved at the beginning in order to advise, coordinate and contribute know-how.
What do you like most about your job?
What I like most about my job is that it's not purely technical, but I don't just work in customer support either. The mixture of both makes it interesting for me.
"I also enjoy working with our customers and being able to contribute my own ideas."
For example, I also can give my suggestions in the design of the product. It's about working together to create the best possible product for the customers and users.
What challenges do you face in your job?
Communication is always an issue in jobs like mine where you work with a lot of different people. I have to find out exactly what the users want and how we can meet their needs. It's important to ask the right questions to get a unified understanding of where the product is going and what benefits it should bring. The user stories must be formulated concretely so that they are clear and understandable for the developers.
What tools are used for communication and planning?
We use Slack for communication throughout the company. If customers are open to it, they also communicate directly with us in a Slack channel. This promotes transparency and the flow of information enormously. Of course, we also use email for a lot of things, and Microsoft Teams is often used for meetings. We mainly use the Jira tool for planning.
How are the working hours organized?
We are responsible for planning meetings and deadlines sensibly and keeping to them. The flexible working hours make it easy to balance work and free time. In the fall, I'll be working for a week in Greece at our branch office in Athens - keyword workation. This will strengthen the connection to our office and the colleagues there, and we can also see the city.
How do you keep yourself up to date?
I mainly learn by doing a lot of research. When I hear about something technical that I don't know yet, I try to gather information and also find out about connections. I also talk to the developers about our projects. In this way, new possibilities and solutions are always opening up. In general, I can say that I stay up to date through a high level of self-interest.
Tips for newcomers
What personality traits do you need for the job?
You should definitely have an open and communicative nature. When working on a project, you have to be able to act in a solution-oriented manner, but you must not lose sight of the needs and wishes of customers and users and the purpose of the product. User satisfaction is essential for positive feedback. As a product owner, you should have a good eye for details and work precisely without losing sight of the big picture. In this job it is very important to be well organized and to be able to work independently. No one tells you exactly what to do next. You organize yourself and the team to be able to hold a quality product in your hands at the end.
"A high degree of openness to new things and also to every member of the project team is also something you should bring along."
What training do you find useful for the job as a product owner?
In theory, you don't need any special training; more important are strong communication skills and a high degree of organization, because nothing works without good planning. However, basic technical knowledge is an advantage, because you can better answer specific questions and suggest solutions yourself. Through interest and experience, this knowledge builds up quickly. Basically, knowledge of project management is a good basis to build on.