Being Agile In OTT Product Innovation and Development
Pun in the title intended. But seriously, if you've ever wondered how the magic happens behind the scenes of our OTT/IPTV/DVB solutions, you're in for a treat. At UniqCast, we're all about spicing up user experiences through cool new features.
As a dedicated product owner, I wholeheartedly recognize the importance of swiftly and effectively infusing fresh features into our range of products. This understanding stems from a deep commitment to not only meeting but exceeding the ever-evolving demands of our discerning user base. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that the journey of seamlessly integrating a new feature into our product ecosystem is a multifaceted undertaking, characterized by its intricacy and inherent challenges.
We're here to guide you through the entire process, sharing the successes, challenges, and our strategies for overcoming them.
Product Ownership Isn't Easy
In the realm of product development, where innovation and user satisfaction reign supreme, the process of feature incorporation assumes a pivotal role. It is akin to orchestrating a symphony, where every note and instrument must harmonize perfectly to create a masterpiece. Likewise, in our domain, every new feature introduced must seamlessly integrate with the existing framework, enhancing the user experience without disrupting the established equilibrium.
Role of Product Owners: Creating a Feature That Satisfies Every Client's Expectations
One of the biggest challenges we face is creating a feature that meets the diverse needs and preferences of our clients. Each client may have a unique vision of how the feature should look and function, making it essential to consider their individual requirements while maintaining a generic approach that aligns with industry standards.
Countless times, we've encountered situations where one client requests a specific functionality while another seeks almost entirely opposing behavior for the same feature.
Communication is Key
To overcome this challenge, we prioritize open and transparent communication with our clients.
Regularly engaging them in the design process and asking for feedback ensures that we gain a thorough understanding of their expectations.
Additionally, we carefully and quite often analyze and prioritize feature requests based on their overall impact and alignment with our product roadmap.
Product Owner's Duties: Assessing Feasibility
Anticipating every single technical glitch, business obstacle, and regulatory hiccup upfront?
What might seem possible today could become a real puzzle later on due to changing technologies, market dynamics, or legal requirements.
Our solution? We're all about the incremental approach. We slice that feature into manageable bits and give each part a good once-over.
By keeping tabs and staying open to change, we're like the chameleons of development – always ready to shift and make smart moves as we go.
By the way, here's a snippet from our recent experiences: We were all geared up to employ specific library packages for development. However, certain operating systems abruptly terminated their support for these packages. This unexpected twist mandated a complete shift in our implementation strategy, directly influencing resource allocation and project timelines.
In the end, we started the implementation completely from scratch with a new direction and a fresh idea that satisfied the business needs in the same manner.
Skills Of a Good PO: Overcoming Communication Challenges
In the software development world, communication is crucial. However, differing perspectives among team members can lead to misalignment and misunderstandings. Technical team members might focus on the details of code quality, while business stakeholders may prioritize speedy releases.
Effective communication is the key to bridging these gaps. We schedule meetings only when necessary, keeping them focused and goal-oriented. Regularly scheduled check-ins with the team provide opportunities for updates and issue resolution without disrupting the workflow. We encourage open discussions to understand different viewpoints and find the optimal balance between technical excellence and business demands.
Extra Challenges For Women In Product Owner Roles
In some instances, it may take more time and effort to establish trust and credibility as a female product owner in a male-dominated setting. Convincing stakeholders and team members of my expertise and decision-making capabilities can be an additional challenge.
Fortunately, my colleagues have been incredibly supportive and have helped foster an inclusive culture where my abilities are recognized and respected. They act as allies, championing my ideas and ensuring that my voice is heard throughout the development process.
PO's Dilemma: Scrum, Agile, Kanban, Waterfall, or Something Completely Different?
Just how do you find the "perfect" work methodology in the “dynamic world of development”?
We began with a waterfall approach, following well-defined, sequential steps. However, we quickly realized that the tech world is always changing, which led us to switch to the Scrum methodology. This allowed for greater flexibility and quicker responses to changes in market demands.
After a while, we noticed that certain teams aligned better with the Kanban system, which emphasizes continuous delivery and flexible adaptation to changes. What we learned is that there's no one-size-fits-all approach that perfectly suits every project or team. Each project comes with its own challenges and specificities, and each team has its own rhythm, dynamics, knowledge, and experience. That's why we decided to be open to experimentation and adaptation.
Unlike certain IT companies that boast about finding the ideal work method or sticking to just one fixed way, we're not pretending or trying to seem that way. We believe in fearlessly experimenting, admitting when we've made mistakes, and then refining our methods by learning from those mistakes. After all, it's in the moments of acknowledging and addressing errors that we grow and evolve, crafting an even more effective way of working.
Orchestrating The Requirements Of Backend, Flutter, and QML (STB) Development Teams
One of the challenges we encounter is orchestrating the backend, Flutter, and QML development (with very close collaboration with our DevOps, Support, Admin, Sales, and Project teams,...) in a manner that avoids dependencies and ensures they all contribute to meeting the project's deadline and product roadmap.
Planning for these three components is like conducting a symphony. The goal is to ensure that the progress of one team doesn't hinge on the completion of another. This kind of synchronization requires detailed planning and coordination.
Our approach is to break down the tasks into smaller, manageable pieces that can be developed in parallel. The backend can be worked on independently, while the Flutter and QML teams can simultaneously create their UI components. This enables us to optimize development time and eliminate potential bottlenecks.
Regular communication between teams is also crucial. We hold frequent check-ins to share updates, identify any emerging dependencies, and make adjustments as needed. This allows us to adapt quickly if any part hits a snag or faces unforeseen challenges.
The Process of Crafting Features in UC
We engage in brainstorming sessions, conduct market research, and analyze user feedback to generate ideas for features. We draw inspiration for innovative features from various sources. We closely monitor industry trends, keep an eye on competitors, and actively seek feedback from our users through surveys and customer support interactions.
This process is aligned with our product positioning strategy, which has been carefully crafted through numerous iterations by our product-marketing team.
- During smaller or larger all-day PDM workshops, we define different goals for the product management and marketing teams. During these workshops, we review and redefine our candidate roadmap items as necessary and align our roadmap accordingly. We continuously add features that are frequently requested by new leads.
- We engage in discussions to outline significant features that we plan to work on in the upcoming quarter or year. We typically have documents like Functional specifications prepared in advance, serving as the foundation for finalizing details such as UI and enhancing features.
- We regularly update our competitors' reviews to stay informed about their offerings and strategies.
- We delve into comprehensive research covering various aspects such as product, pricing, and promotion strategies.
Defining Market Size
- We define the market size for Telcos and Mobile operators, identifying potential opportunities and areas for growth.
- We estimate the market size for ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to understand their potential impact on our product landscape.
- We review segments involving broadcasters and OTT providers to identify emerging trends and opportunities.
Analysis and Opportunities
- We analyze the opportunities identified from previous years in collaboration with our Sales team.
- We finalize the challenges and opportunities and define the "3Ws" (What, Who, Why) for our target segments, aligning our strategies with customer needs. This involves engaging directly with customers to understand their requirements.
- We conduct interviews with our existing customers to gain deeper insights into their needs and pain points.
- During these interviews, we present new features and gather feedback on their usability and relevance.
- We proactively ask our customers about their needs and motivations, helping us tailor our product offerings more effectively.
- We inquire about aspects we need to understand better, ensuring our decisions are well-informed.
Regular Sessions and Exhibitions
- We maintain regular sessions with our Sales team. These interactions help align marketing efforts with on-the-ground insights.
- We also engage in product management research during exhibitions, staying updated on industry trends and networking with potential clients.
Product Owners Can Be Fun
In the end, it's not just about the work – our journey at UniqCast is marked by friendship and shared moments. Workshops in Ljubljana or Zagreb kick off a delightful tradition. Afterwards, we gather over dinner and a round of drinks and on our way back home sing Croatian and Slovenian songs in the car. These moments of connection transcend the workspace and forge lasting bonds.
We don't hesitate to dive into hours-long discussions about UniqCast and everything associated with it. Whether at the office or outside it, our diverse teams come together to strengthen these connections. When we head to work, it's not a sense of tension that fills the air, but one of pride. We're proud to be part of a company that encourages ideation, shares experiences, and embraces challenges across departments.