https://hmrcdigital.blog.gov.uk/2017/08/08/building-better-products-building-a-community/

Building better products, building a community

I’m Robin Moore and I’m one of about 40 digital Product Managers at HMRC. We’re recruiting for more right now, so if you’d like some insight into what we do then please read on.

Like any good customer service organisation, HMRC aims to put its customers at the centre of everything we do. We’re building lots of new digital services, in fact 25 last year alone, as more and more of our customers want to deal with us online. As a Product Manager, it’s my job to:

  • make sure that everyone – my team and all our stakeholders – is clear what we are trying to achieve with the digital product
  • decide what functionality we’re going to prioritise, based on what will add the most value
  • become an expert in what users of this product need and be the champion of these, including developing strong user stories that everyone can work with to stay focused on customer needs
  • work together with a range of stakeholders, across HMRC and more widely, to overcome any issues or hurdles
  • set clear delivery plans for the product and make sure we meet them.

Thankfully, I don’t have to do all of this alone, I’m supported by my brilliant team of experts in user research, user experience design, business analysis, development and testing.

I can also turn to my Product Manager peers spread across our six digital delivery centres, tapping into a wealth of knowledge and experience. Every few months we get together face-to-face to share best practice, learn from each other, think about what product initiatives we would like to take forward, and demonstrate our latest services. For our most recent get together, we all met up in Brighton.

The day kicked-off with enlightening product demonstrations (aka ‘show the thing’) from each of the delivery centres, followed by a fantastic talk from Janna Bastow (co-founder of Product Tank and Mind the Product) on the topic of collaborating as product people. We then split into groups to tackle some of the issues we face day to day. We worked up the first draft of our product manager playbook, looked at how we can best share what we do outside the product community, and started working on the next level of product roadmaps. We also put the finishing touches to a cross-centre buddying and mentoring plan to bring us all even closer.

What I value most about these meetings is getting to better understand the challenges other Product Managers from our other centres are facing and how they’ve tried to tackle them. I always come away with a list of ideas and new things I’m going to try on some of the knotty problems I’m currently dealing with. It reinforces for me just how powerful a community can be.

So what is that excites me most about being a Product Manager? Leading a highly-skilled multi-disciplinary team certainly gives me a strong sense of responsibility. But for me, I think I feel most accomplishment when I can bring a clear focus to a problem and know I’ve got the best from a diverse group of experts. That means our customers get a service they will want to use but that also meets our business needs.

If any of that sounds like you, please take a look at our current vacancies. Who knows, maybe I’ll be seeing you at our next Product Manager meet-up!

Robin

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