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1. What an associate product manager does
Associate product managers manage subsets of features or components of a product in either its prototype state or once it is live and being incrementally improved. They report to a more senior product manager. They are learning basic product management techniques.
This can be an entry level role for civil servants who may be looking to progress to product manager or those on emerging talent schemes.
2. What skills they need
An associate product manager needs specific skills:
- capabilities, like agile working and lifecycle perspective
- Civil Service competencies, like leadership and communication
Some skills are required or essential to the role, others are desirable, or ‘nice to have’.
Capabilities are the knowledge and skills required to do a certain job or task.
Each capability has a level of mastery, or competence, used across government. They range from having a knowledge of a skill (‘awareness’) to having experience in the application of the skill (‘expert’).
|Capability||Description of capability||Level of mastery||What the level of mastery means|
|Agile working||Is aware of and understands agile methodology and how to apply the agile mindset to all aspects of their work. Has the ability to work in a fast paced, evolving environment and utilises an iterative method and flexible approach to enable rapid delivery. Unafraid to take risks, willing to learn from mistakes and appreciates the importance of agile project delivery for digital projects in government. Able to ensure the team has a situational awareness of what each other is working on and how this relates to practical government objectives and user needs.||Awareness||Has an awareness of Agile methodology and the ways you could apply the principles in practice. Able to take an open-minded approach and understands why iteration is important and can do it quickly.|
|Lifecyle perspective||Understands the different phases of product delivery and is able to contribute to, plan or run these. Able to maintain a product or process through the delivery phases, through to live and into retirement. Able to lead a team through the different phases of the delivery lifecycle. Can maintain and iterate a product over time to continuously meet user needs. Understands and is aware of incident management and service support so that products are built effectively.||Awareness||Understands how the needs of the team and of the product, vary across the phases of the lifecycle.|
|Operational management||Able to manage the operational process of designing and running a product or service throughout its entire life-cycle. Able to implement best practice in new product or service development and knows how to plan and operationalise the stages of new product or service development. Able to overcome operational constraints to deliver a successful product or service. Works closely with other operational delivery teams.||Awareness||Understands the operational processes of running and maintaining product or service.|
|Problem ownership||Understands and identifies problems, analysing and helping to identify the appropriate solution. Is able to classify and prioritise problems, document their causes and implement remedies.||Working||Initiates and monitors actions to investigate patterns and trends to resolve problems. Consults specialists where required. Determines the appropriate remedy and assists with implementation of these. Determines preventative measures.|
|Product ownership||Uses a range of product management principles and approaches. Captures and translates user needs into deliverables. Able to define the minimum viable product and make decisions about priorities. Writes stories and acceptance criteria. Capable of working with a range of specialists in multidisciplinary teams.||Awareness||Has awareness of tools, terms and concepts used to deliver a product.|
|Strategic ownership||Focuses on outcomes, not solutions. Is bold - develops ambitious visions and strategies. Gets the organisation and team to buy-in. Translates the vision into prioritised deliverable goals.||Working||Able to get buy-in from the team.|
|User focus||Understands users and can identify who they are and what their needs are based on evidence. Able to translate user stories and propose design approaches or services to meet these needs and engage in meaningful interactions and relationships with users. Puts users first and can manage competing priorities.||Working||Identifies and engages with users and stakeholders to collate evidence and understand and define research which fits user needs. Able to use quantitative and qualitative data about users to turn user focus into outcomes.|
|Capability||Description of capability||Level of mastery||What the level of mastery means|
|DDaT perspective||Demonstrates an understanding of user-centered design, technology and data perspectives. Understands the range of available technology choices and makes informed decisions based on user need and value for money. Understands the variety and complexities of digital contexts and designs services to meet them. Has knowledge of the wider digital economy and advances in technology.||Awareness||Able to demonstrate a basic understanding of design, technology and data principles. Understands the range of available technology choices.|
|Financial ownership||Able to secure funding for agile delivery through a business case and through delivering a good pitch in government. Capable of prioritising spending based on return on investment (ROI) and strategic intent; this may include contract ownership and accountability for realisation of benefits.||Awareness||Able to handle numbers confidently and collate information ensuring accuracy of financial and performance data.|
|Understanding constraints||Able to understand and work within the given constraints (including but not limited to technology, policy, regulatory, financial, legal, social user constraints) and to challenge constraints that can be changed. Capable of ensuring compliance against constraints by adapting products and services where needed.||Awareness||Understands the value of policy, legislative, regulatory and operational constraints and finds the least troublesome solution for users.|
2.2 Civil Service competencies
In the Civil Service, we use the Competency Framework to outline expected behaviours. Competencies are used as part of the assessment during the interview process.
|Competency||Description of competency||Mapping to capability|
|Achieving commercial outcomes||Being effective in this area is about maintaining an economic, long-term focus in all activities. For all, it’s about having a commercial, financial and sustainable mindset to ensure all activities and services are delivering added value and working to stimulate economic growth. For leaders, it’s about identifying economic, market and customer issues and using these to promote innovative business models, commercial partnerships and agreements to deliver greatest value; and ensuring tight commercial controls of finances, resources and contracts to meet strategic priorities.||DDaT perspective, financial ownership, strategic ownership, understanding constraints, user focus|
|Building capability for all||Effectiveness in this area is having a strong focus on continuous learning for oneself, others and the organisation. For all staff, it’s being open to learning, about keeping one’s own knowledge and skill set current and evolving. For leaders, it’s about investing in the capabilities of our people, to be effective now and in the future as well as giving clear, honest feedback and supporting teams to succeed. It’s also about creating a learning and knowledge culture across the organisation to inform future plans and transformational change.||DDaT perspective, Agile working|
|Changing and improving||People who are effective in this area take initiative, are innovative and seek out opportunities to create effective change. For all staff, it’s about learning from what has worked as well as what has not, being open to change and improvement, and working in ‘smarter’, more focused ways. For leaders, this is about creating and encouraging a culture of innovation and allowing people to consider and take informed decisions. Doing this well means continuously seeking out ways to improve policy implementation and build a leaner, more flexible and responsive Civil Service. It also means making use of alternative delivery models including digital and shared service approaches wherever possible.||Agile working, lifecycle perspective, product ownership|
|Collaborating and partnering||People skilled in this area are team players. At all levels, it requires working collaboratively, sharing information appropriately and building supportive, trusting and professional relationships with colleagues and a wide range of people within and outside the Civil Service, whilst having the confidence to challenge assumptions. For senior leaders, it’s about being approachable, delivering business objectives through creating an inclusive environment, welcoming challenge however uncomfortable.||Agile working, understanding constraints,|
|Delivering at pace||Effectiveness in this area means focusing on delivering timely performance with energy and taking responsibility and accountability for quality outcomes. For all staff, it’s about working to agreed goals and activities and dealing with challenges in a responsive and constructive way. For leaders, it’s about building a performance culture where staff are given space, authority and support to deliver outcomes. It’s also about keeping a firm focus on priorities and addressing performance issues resolutely, fairly and promptly.||Agile working, problem ownership, product ownership, user focus|
|Delivering value for money||Delivering value for money involves the efficient, effective and economic use of taxpayers’ money in the delivery of public services. For all staff, it means seeking out and implementing solutions which achieve the best mix of quality and effectiveness for the least outlay. People who do this well base their decisions on evidenced information and follow agreed processes and policies, challenging these appropriately where they appear to prevent good value for money. For leaders it’s about embedding a culture of value for money within their area and function. They work collaboratively across boundaries to ensure that the Civil Service maximises its strategic outcomes within the resources available.||Financial ownership, problem ownership, user focus|
|Leading and communicating||At all levels, effectiveness in this area is about showing our pride and passion for public service, communicating purpose and direction with clarity, integrity and enthusiasm. It’s about championing difference and external experience, and supporting principles of fairness of opportunity for all. For leaders, it’s about being visible, establishing a strong direction and persuasive future vision; managing and engaging with people in a straightforward, truthful and candid way.||Product ownership, strategic ownership|
|Managing a quality service||Effectiveness in this area is about valuing and modelling professional excellence and expertise to deliver service objectives, taking account of diverse customer needs and requirements. People who are effective plan, organise and manage their time and activities to deliver a high quality, secure, reliable and efficient service, applying programme, project and risk management approaches to support service delivery. For leaders, it’s about creating an environment to deliver operational excellence and creating the most appropriate and cost effective delivery models for public services.||Financial ownership, lifecycle perspective, product ownership, strategic ownership, user focus|
|Seeing the big picture||Seeing the big picture is about having an in-depth understanding and knowledge of how your role fits with and supports organisational objectives and the wider public needs and the national interest. For all staff, it’s about focusing your contribution on the activities which will meet Civil Service goals and deliver the greatest value. For leaders, it’s about scanning the political context and taking account of wider impacts to develop long term implementation strategies that maximise opportunities to add value to the citizen and support economic, sustainable growth.||DDaT perspective, lifecycle perspective, problem ownership, strategic ownership, understanding constraints, user focus|
3. Other roles in product management
There are 4 other role ‘levels’ in product management: