From Developer to Product Owner
When I look back at my professional path to become a Product Owner, I have no doubt that I was meant to do this.
You probably know the feeling. You feel that there’s something else out there waiting for you. You feel that you can do more than what you are currently doing in your job. Most people have probably felt this way. If you haven’t, then I would say - consider yourself a lucky person!
In my case, this was a recurrent feeling that I was looking forward to changing. You see, I joined Outsystems in 2011 as a developer. At the time, this was a perfect fit. I was recently graduated, and I knew how to code very well. But, over time, I started feeling that something was missing.
I spent my days coding, solving problems and in direct contact with the technology, but I also felt I could be doing more. I wanted to be more. I wanted more opportunities to influence what we were doing, prioritize deliverables, and think even more about what I could offer to the customers to fulfill their needs and demands.
How did I realize that something was wrong? Well… when you start asking your Team Captain for tasks that do not include code, and you help prepare the next sprints and you start spending more time looking at the team’s backlog than at the IDE… that’s probably a sign, right?
Lucky for me, here at OutSystems, people pay attention, and my Team Captain noticed these signs, and supported and encouraged me to follow my heart.
Introducing Product Ownership
As I was going through this moment of change, in 2016, a new area in the Engineering department was being created. A Product Ownership area. The goal of this area was to deliver the right feature, with the right scope, at the right time.
A Product Owner (PO) is someone who:
- Works closely with Product Management on the strategic product roadmap definition.
- Defines and manages the team’s short and mid-term backlogs, and ensures alignment of initiatives across teams.
- Acts as a functional expert.
- Acts as the go-to Person in each area of the product.
This was exactly the list of things I wanted to do. It fit me like a glove!
Career Evolution: Developing Skill Sets
Fortunately, at OutSystems, we’re not only agile in our development process and in our decision making process. OutSystems is also agile about people, roles and their contributions to the organization.
Careers are well-drawn and you know exactly where you stand and what is expected from you in any given role. This also opens up the game for potential changes, as you know where you have to be if you want to change roles.
After talking to some people, I was part of the first Product Ownership team at OutSystems. It was so quick that it really felt like this transition was meant to happen.
A Match Made… at OutSystems
Suddenly, I was the PO for the Stack Team! I had to look for information about needs, talk with the Product Management team, define delivery strategies for a given feature — all the things that I was really motivated to do. This change brought an unbelievable boost of confidence and an increase in my personal productivity, making myself a much happier and accomplished person!
Overall, being part of the Engineering department for four years before becoming a PO was a huge help. I knew the product well, so meetings and refinement sessions were easy. I knew the code, so I knew the implications of implementing something and how it could affect other areas of the product.
I also had a lot of experience with the processes and I knew who I had to talk to when I needed get specific information, so I was able to be more efficient because I had this past life supporting my current brand-new role.
One of the biggest challenges POs may face is how to convey to their teams the message of the impact and value they can deliver to the client. But because I had been on other side I knew what things look like when you’re the developer. So this bridge from the outside looking in, although challenging, was crossed over as well.
A Happy Product Owner
Do you know when someone says that you can’t really appreciate something until you’ve experienced it? Things people say like “enjoy your school years, because they are the best years of your life”? Well, this was one of those moments. I didn’t know it at the time, but afterwards, I realized this was what I needed to do.
So from a happy PO to you: pay attention to the signs. It’s important to always question what you are doing and if that is the best that you can do. Challenge the status quo. If something needs to change, pursue it and, if you are lucky, you are working in a company that allows and facilitates these kind of changes, and wins better employees.