Sometimes the most difficult part of product development is achieving a balanced operations approach that ensures success across all involved teams. This week we welcome Transformco Fmr. VP of Retail Operations, Beth Ligenza, to share examples of product deliveries, successes, and failures, along with frameworks that product leaders can employ to come out on top across the board.
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On product management as the key to balanced operations success
No matter the phase of the product lifecycle, there are a significant number of stakeholders weighing in. Success relies on smooth, effective communication across all teams, from business to product to engineering. During her presentation, Beth describes balanced operations as a three-legged stool and continually impresses on the audience the importance of involving all teams and stakeholders from the very beginning.
“The product management team really has to be that central cog, to keep everybody aligned and moving by surveying all the different touchpoints in the process and ensuring there is a very clearly defined goal that has leadership support.”
“By employing a very comprehensive kickoff, everybody has an understanding of the challenges and how you can work together to improve them. This included engineering, all stakeholders, anybody who was part of product management, it included all the stakeholders, and everybody used the existing functionality to understand what they are working with as a baseline, and then utilize that to build from.”
“With great communication from the product management team, along with regular stakeholder meetings and integration, you can make sure that everybody is walking hand in hand every step of the way. Product Management needs to maintain that balance, allowing the whole cross-functional team to deliver a very successful implementation.”
On the importance of communication
It’s a point that gets driven home in nearly every product conversation, and for good reason. A successful product leader is a successful communicator, first and foremost. As Beth shares working examples of successes and failures, it quickly becomes clear that unless effective communication across all teams and stakeholders is put at the forefront, balanced operations simply won’t occur.
“Honesty, fairness, and communication are foundational, and they enable you to be successful wherever you go, be it a startup or a large company. They are intrinsic product management values, not simply environmental.”
“You cannot over-communicate, whether it’s between teams or with stakeholders, and bad news does not improve with time. Get everyone on board with benefits and dependencies before you start. This will help maintain prioritization.”
“A good product manager is someone who is not paralyzed by data. They are going to drive decisions to gain the right product outcome.”
On equal seats at the table
It can be an easy trap to fall into, but working in silos has the tendency to lead to blind spots, feature replacements, and even lost revenue. Beth shares that along with communication, it’s imperative that all teams with touchpoints on a product or project have equal seats at the table.
“Define your challenges across all the touchpoints, not just the owners and end-users. Engage engineering in hands-on use of tools or systems before embarking on changes. Give them an equal seat at the table.”
“By listening to suggestions from engineering and incorporating them into the project plan, you can actually reduce a lot of future maintenance. That ability to listen, connect, and build bridges, and then integrate things versus constantly replacing them, will ultimately deliver a better product.”
About the speaker
Beth Ligenza is the former VP of Integrated Retail Operations at Transformco. She is a retail operations business leader with over 20 years of experience leading large-scale technical roadmap deliverables and multidisciplinary teams to success. Beth enjoys bringing together previously siloed areas to optimize cross-functional skills and build collaborative work environments. Over the last 15 years, she has focused on online operations and optimization to implement process improvements and unlock efficiencies that transform underperforming business functions into profitable revenue generators.