Say hello to Merel. Product owner at icapps.
During this blog series, we highlight one of our colleagues who talks about his or her job at icapps. Find out what their challenges are in their job, how they want to grow in their job, and get to know them a bit too. A product owner (PO) takes the lead and guides the Scrum team toward a successful digital product.
Wondering what a job as a product owner looks like? Merel will tell you all about it.
What gives you the most satisfaction in your job?
I see myself a bit like a spider in a web. I try to make sure that everyone can work as efficiently as possible. When the developers can focus on writing code without having to ask me a lot of questions, it means I have done my job properly. When everything runs efficiently and the developers have all the information they need, that gives me satisfaction.
How do you keep the balance between the needs of the customer and the capacity of the developers?
That's really the core of my job as a PO. It's very important to plan well and always keep the scope in mind. In your scope, you put your must-haves; things that really need to be done to create a viable digital product. You always start working on these things first. Because, obviously, there can be some functionalities that are nice to have but they might not be as important to make the app work.
So, I always look at what is the highest priority and what, for example, should be ready after six months?
What is the biggest challenge within your job?
Prioritization. For example; which features do we pick up first, and what will the developers work on first? Especially if you are working on multiple projects with the same developers, you have to look carefully - at the beginning of every sprint - which features from which project have priority. You have to make sure the developers don't have too much or too little to do. Basically like putting together the pieces of a big puzzle.
Another thing that is very important and challenging is to get everyone moving in the same direction, both the client and the team.
How do you communicate a difficult message to a customer?
Luckily I haven't experienced that a lot. For the customer, I think it is very important to always stick to the facts and hold on to the agreements that were made. When you explain the logic in a non-technical language, most of the time the customer will understand the problem. Another important thing is to have a plan B. If the customer says, for example: “We know we said this five months ago, but actually we want it completely different”. Then you must be able to say, “okay then we go live with the version we have now and then make adjustments afterward. Or we can postpone the “go-live” date and change things now.”
A tip: It's okay to admit when there’s something you don’t know. But take the right approach; It comes across much more professional if you tell the customer, "I'll get back to you on this," rather than "Oh I don't know that."
What is the skill every Product Owner should master?
Maybe it's fairly obvious by now but being able to plan and work efficiently.
What is your creative outlet during your free time?
I put my creativity into making clothes. I do this with a sewing machine. By watching tutorials I taught myself how to sew. It's super relaxing for me, especially when I put on some music, lovely! This is also something that not many people know about me.
What I also really enjoy is gaming. My favorite game is Stellaris. This is basically a big management game where you can build your own empire in space. Planning and management: skills you need as a PO. ;)