When I started working as a Product Owner in the beginning of 2020, I didn’t know where to begin. There were the challenges of fitting in with the team as well as adapting to the new role. But besides that, there was simply too much to learn. To get started, I created a checklist of things to look at that could help me understand both the product and the release process.
The first thing I tried to identify was who or what was providing input for new features. Once I had narrowed down the “who”, I noted down how that input was provided. Different groups used different channels of communication but still all of this information needed to come together to create a full picture of what was requested.
When we have something ready, how do we tell our users about it? How do we spread the word and how can we offer more help to get everyone on board? Is it a banner in the UI or do we need to inform an official communication channel? Getting a grip of the output channels helped me identify possible dependencies that might come into play so I can plan better when releasing changes.
I personally find great joy going through documents. Either it is the features’ backlog, bugs, interviews with users or even simple notes, everything tells a story about the product. Not necessarily a pleasant one or one that is easy to follow, nevertheless it provides insights to the process of making the software.
Finally, I gathered some of the regulatory requirements that we needed to have in place. Security aspects as well as GDPR but also retention periods and archiving rules. Understanding what where the necessary rules we needed to abide with, made it easier to balance between new features and compliance expectations.
I am working on internal tools, so my list is probably smaller than the one for a product that is shipped to external customers. Nevertheless, doing the exercise of creating it the first time and going through it the second time around has been helpful for me. Hope that it is good tool for someone else out there as well.