August 17, 2018 · 5 min read
Feature: August Product Meetup Recap
Processes, Workflows, and Frameworks, Oh My!
This month’s meetup was a roundtable moderated by Lauren Norman, Senior Product Manager for Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Population Health IT Department. Lauren opened up the conversation with a presentation on processes and workflows her team follows to kick off a product build. At VUMC, Lauren’s team focuses on building products and managing vendor technology for physicians and care teams to track patient outcomes. With many stakeholders involved, from the patient, to the outside vendor, to the physicians using their tools, Lauren’s team has developed and adapted various approaches to product management at VUMC.
Finding the Right Framework
While product management is still a new discipline, frameworks and certifications exist to help guide product teams to achieve their goals and make valuable products. Pragmatic Marketing is an established leader in product management professional training (and a ProductCamp sponsor!) and their framework came up early on in our discussion. The framework provides 37 activities for product teams, from “Buy, Build, and Partner” to “Revenue Retention”. For small product teams or product managers at startups, not all activities may apply, however, the general themes within the framework are a helpful tool for product professionals to work toward common goals that move their business forward. The OKR framework came up in our discussion as another helpful way to set and achieve goals for product teams and the whole company. OKR, which stands for Objectives and Key Results, sets up teams with easy-to-measure metrics and gets cross-departmental teams aligned. One member of the roundtable brought up the Optimal Product Process Framework by 280 Group, which includes highly specific steps to rally around in the product build process. 280 Group (another ProductCamp sponsor!) also has product management training and certification. Scrum leaders in attendance advocated for the need for product professionals to follow KanBan or Agile methodology, in addition to the more strategy-based product management frameworks. Not all the members of our product community use frameworks and those that do, often adapt them as they determine what works for their team and company.
Building out Processes and Workflows
From delivering reports to the CEO to getting stakeholder feedback, product professionals have to establish processes around their major responsibilities. Lauren established a task force to start a regular cadence of feedback from users every other week. Our group discussed how to make sure team members felt heard, too, while balancing the business and user needs. Members of the group suggested setting up meetings with different departments to hear out their co-workers’ concerns and show them the backlog, too, so they see what is being addressed. It may be necessary to show co-workers and users that certain backlog items, such as app maintenance or a feature that keeps the product compliant with a governing body, are necessary, even if they are not desirable. Once features are shipped, maintaining and creating documentation is a constant challenge many members of the group faced. While some abandoned their process to keep documentation up-to-date, others utilize software such as Flair or Guru to automatically populate support docs with new product information.
Product professionals have a lot to juggle do day-to-day and processes and frameworks can help with these tasks or bog down your team. Finding what works for you and your product team as well as your entire company will take trial and error, but will ultimately help you work toward common goals and lead you to product success.