Digital and technology skills

Product management

Overseeing the creation, continuous improvement and success of a digital product and/or platform.

Product management involves setting the vision from the outset and making decisions throughout the product lifecycle to ensure high quality.

Some relevant roles: service manager, product manager, delivery manager

User needs

Acting for the user

Acting as the ‘voice of the user’, ensuring user needs remain central to decision-making.

Compiling user needs

Gathering and communicating user needs based on an understanding of diverse audience groups.

Interpreting user needs

This involves:

  • interpreting user research in order to make the correct product decisions
  • distinguishing between user needs and user wants
  • recognising that users may not always be able to articulate their needs

Understanding changes in user behaviour

This involves understanding:

  • the changes in user habits, preferences and behaviour across various platforms
  • the implications of these for the successful delivery of services

Discovery

This involves:

  • analysing the existing market landscape with an innovative mindset
  • identifying opportunities and generating ideas for improvements or new products to meet user needs, especially in a discovery phase

Product strategy

Strategy and vision

Defining a compelling product strategy and vision contributing to a digital by default delivery of government services.

Alignment with strategic objectives

Ensuring individual product strategy and associated project activity are aligned with the overall strategic objectives of the department.

Continued ownership and iteration

Being responsible for the entire product lifecycle and continuing to own the product after launch.This includes:

  • performance analysis of the product
  • building ongoing product roadmaps
  • planning iterations

Planning

This involves:

  • taking ownership of roadmaps, while working closely with delivery managers
  • using product descriptions and iterated delivery plans to assign priorities and make informed decisions

Use of data

Building products and services based on data

This involves:

  • guiding the delivery and iteration of products and services through effective analysis of qualitative and quantitative user data
  • considering all types of data, including offline data such as from a call centre

Using data to inform decision-making

This involves:

  • building feedback loops into projects from the beginning to inform prioritisation and iteration
  • making decisions based on data (eg user metrics)
  • communicating those decisions with an understanding of the data and evidence available

Stakeholder engagement and communication

Communicating about the product

This involves:

  • defining and getting user buy-in for the product definition and the delivery approach
  • effectively communicating both the definition and the delivery approach to all internal and external stakeholders

Getting stakeholder input

This requires:

  • bringing together views and input from a wide range of contributors, such as senior stakeholders, developers and user researchers
  • sharing the vision for the product
  • solving problems during the build
  • promoting collaboration

Using communities

Being actively involved across partner and user communities in order to:

  • promote the department’s principles
  • encourage collaborative approaches to solving problems and engaging stakeholders

Communication strategy

Creating communication strategy

Planning communication about the product during the launch and at important stages of the product’s lifecycle.

Developing messages to suit the target audience

This involves:

  • ensuring post-launch communications are targeted to the right sectors
  • ensuring any important messages are easily understood
  • identifying and segmenting customer sectors to understand their different needs

Learning resources:

The Government Digital Services blog has a useful entry on ‘What I’ve learned (so far) doing product management in government’

Service Design Tools is an open collection of communication tools used in design processes that deal with complex systems.

‘User stories applied for Agile software development’ is a useful reference for writing good user stories.

The Mind the product blog has an entry titled ‘What exactly is a Product Manager?’, which looks at product management as the intersection between business technology and user experience.

The Digital Business Academy offers Develop and manage a digital product, an online course covering product development for digital newcomers.

ProductTank is a network group that gives product managers in London the opportunity to meet up and exchange ideas and experiences around product design, development and management.

Civil Service Learning offers management essentials, a wide range of learning opportunities (eg e-learning, workshops and resources) to help boost your management skills and plan your future development.