It is almost impossible to make everything right when forming a new engineering team. Here is a list of some of my condensed learnings from the last two years creating value as a product team in a quite technical environment.

How comes?

For the last almost two years I have been working as a Product Owner. I was tasked to streamline the essence of four different platform/data teams into a single product offering. The team was setup consisting on some previously assigned members to these topics from various teams.

Things I have learned

  • Partner with an Agile Coach/Scrum Master is helpful if not crucial
  • Automate (almost) everything keeps the engineering team focusing on the actual product
  • Having the support process transparent and explicit let you do the right automation at the right time
  • Keep an eye on operations from day one
  • Start with SLOs track them and slowly move to SLAs
  • Letting the team decide on how they organize work is successful
  • Having an actual product is helpful when you are a Product Owner
  • Working on “pre-aligned” tasks makes you feel unnecessary as a Product Owner
  • Having short iterations with concrete goals gives you the right granularity to keep focus on what you want to achieve
  • Be pragmatic – and most likely Kanban trumps Scrum
  • Setting goals with the team is effective

Things I would do differently or focus more

  • Have more mid term goals that can be achieved and tracked – Team OKRs might help
  • Continuously and often check with your company objectives and strategy
  • Always ask for (more) feedback
  • Never stop to inspire your peers
  • Choose your battles wisely – there is all the time “something broken” but it might be not the best time to fix everything
  • Beware of routine – constantly question the status quo

So what?

These two years have been fun and somehow challenging, nonetheless, I switched back in an engineering position. I feel much more confident in an engineering environment. I have learned a lot and for sure brought in my expertise to my other product owner colleagues.

By the way, we at RIO are hiring both Product Owners and (Senior) Software Engineers.