The story of a product owner(III) — Love the process, not the idea

Interview with Bogdan Sorescu, eMAG Product Owner

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

A few words about yourself. How long have you been in eMAG and what have you been up to?

On May 1st I celebrated my 4th year in eMAG and during this time I’ve been working as a Product Owner for mobile applications. I took over the project from the first versions and together with my team, I managed to grow the application to 2 million installs in 4 countries: Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Poland.

Before eMAG I worked around 4 years as a Product Owner for wowapp.com, a startup that tries to solve income inequality through a revenue-share business model. At the base of the product, there is a chat platform similar to WhatsApp. In this role I mostly handled mobile applications.
 
What is your take on the Product Owner (PO) role?

From my point of view, the PO role differs from project to project but a key attribute that I noticed for any PO regardless of the project is the capacity to create transparency on three directions: business, team, and users.

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

In the business — you rely on data and create transparency regarding the users and the team’s needs. That helps you negotiate the backlog with stakeholders.

In the team — create transparency regarding the business situation, strategy and how they impact teamwork on a short, medium and long term. You can associate it with the idea of “Spreading the vision”.

Towards the user — create transparency for the product to make the user notice its value as soon as possible. Eliminate all obstacles. The famous “A-HA moment”.

In what projects did you get involved? Which ones have brought you the biggest satisfaction?
 
The eMAG application gave me the biggest satisfaction. To improve the process where I deliver business/products I need an environment where I can test/confirm/disprove my hypothesis and the eMAG application and its millions of users is the perfect environment to do that very quickly. The simple fact that the product that I work on is used daily by hundreds of thousands of people is just simply amazing.

Was the application the most difficult project in your career?

No, I think that the wowapp.com was the most difficult because we were working on a start-up product that wasn’t launched yet, and not having feedback from users you can’t really be 100% sure that what you’re building has the qualities of a successful product. This need of having ideas validated made me take the step towards eMAG.
 
You are an experienced product owner at this point, what do you think is an indispensable quality for this role?
 
Get all the feedback you can regarding your product and make something out of it. There are so many feedback channels that can be maxed out and automated to better understand a situation: in-store reviews, feedback from the application, feedback from the team of professionals you are working with, cross feedback from other product owners in the application, feedback from the business, user testing, user behavior observed through the data generated by the analytics systems. All these are the ground for ideas in the backlog or strong points in the negotiation with the business. Gotta catch ’em all!

Any advice for future product owners?

Love the process, not the idea. The idea is to constantly practice the process to deliver business and apply that process on any idea in an objective mode. To really know if a process is well defined you have to put yourself in the following situation: you just got hired at company X (insert favorite company) on the Y product (insert favorite product). What do you do first? What do you start with? Remember that always.

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