Caroline Woodhams
May 20, 2016
3 mins reading time

Launching New Products Takes Teamwork

Being the Product Owner of the New Products Pod is a bit like operating in a startup - but within the context of a much bigger, more mature organisation. In traditional start up land everybody on the team pitches in to get the job done, which is ultimately to ship the product: the role boundaries are less rigid and everybody’s focus is on this end goal. The New Products pod at Holiday Extras sits within the Web team but involves many people from other teams around the business to achieve our mission.

Our key collaborators are Sales (in our business we call them Partnerships as they work with our retail partners), Marketing, Finance and the Contact Centre. In this post I’d like to focus on the relationship with our Partnerships team.

Whilst the development team has sought to understand the problems our customers have, and build solutions that solve them, the Partnerships team has helped us to find customers who we can help. This could only have happened with the Partnerships team being fully on board with our new products, such as car hire and resort transfers, and working hard to secure us deals with new and existing customers.

We often start this process early, sometimes even before we’ve finished building the product! In this case, we’ve been opportunity-led and have been working to deadlines. I know this is something that doesn’t always sit comfortably with the development team - but if we want to secure customers in a competitive market (like car hire) then we need to be prepared to push ourselves to take the risk and mobilise quickly. Partnerships need launch dates to be able to manage our customers’ expectations, and timescales is often a key point in contractual negotiations: speed to market is a critical aspect of our customers’ businesses too.

This is where MVP is such a useful tool. What’s the smallest amount of work we can do to get a product in front of a customer? Once we’ve built and released that we can loop back and learn from our data about what is working for customers and what isn’t, and change it (the build-measure-learn loop). Don’t wait to ship until everybody on the development team’s ‘ready’: perfect code, zero technical debt, a million and one features - by then it’s too late, and a competitor will have surpassed you (this isn’t a call to compromise quality, but rather, figure out what’s important to get you to the next step and prioritise that).

So to summarise, there can be friction between sales and tech teams when they are not aligned to the same goal, but when they’re working together it’s pure magic for the business. Part of the role as the Product Owner is to balance the views of each side and ensure that we’re all aligned (for sales folk, this means achieving a win-win situation!) with a focus on the product becoming a success. It’s not easy, but it’s so rewarding when we get it right.

Tags product, productmanagement, teamwork, productlaunch, collaboration