Product Development: Creating More Agile Owners

Mike Togle
March 21, 2018

“What better way to immerse software engineers into agility than the ever-demanding landscape of product development?” Pointwest’s strategic team used this as the insight to design a program that aims to strengthen the capabilities of its resources in an agile work environment.

With several industries disrupted by technology at every turn in recent years, the tech industry itself is not spared by the dynamic demands of businesses. Tech disrupts businesses; businesses demand more from tech. It has come to a point that whenever new technology provides more opportunities to alter business models, businesses find ways to demand even more from IT to transition itself further.

Such a scenario rebuffs rigid slow processes, especially when it comes to developing softwares and products.

Software Development and Agility

In software development, the term “agility” is not confined to the widely-used agile methodologies like Agile Scrum, Kanban, XP, DSDM, just to name a few. Agility is the underlying concept behind such methodologies.

Developing software in an agile setting allows teams to be more flexible to changing business requirements that are often influenced by market behavior. Compared to iterative workflows, the requirements that agile software development teams work on are broken down into smaller features–“user stories” that equate to more meaningful software releases. When the market demands shift, the quicker the delivery of features that answer the needs of the end-users dictate which is the more successful software.

This is most ideal for softwares that are directly influenced by business end-users–their consumers–and are more commonly known as product apps.

Product Development and Agility

“The captain of a ship can run a great ship, but he can’t do anything about the tides.” — Matthew Norman

Anyone who has tried to steer a ship knows that there are various factors that continuously affect its  direction, speed, and effectivity throughout its course. Internal factors like the skill of the crew and their ability to work together, the features and state of the vehicle, and the type of cargo it transports are just a few. Then, there are the uncontrollable forces such as weather conditions, wind direction, ocean currents, and other ships plying the same routes.

The same can be said of running a product to completion and success.

Vital to the success of a product–market traction, well-thought feature development, and actual profits–is the management of internal and external forces that can affect the course of its development. For software products, management of the development team is as critical as addressing the concerns, needs, and wants of stakeholders and business users.

JoAnne Cruz Interview with Benedict and Mark

Employing agile methodologies to maintain one’s flexibility and the ability to pivot based on such forces is key to the product’s success. Also, foreseeing how the market reacts can introduce a whole new dimension in “growing” a product. Add a generous serving of grit, and this completes the picture of what a product owner has to consider in delivering top-notch quality software that the market can appreciate.

The Product Owner Development Program

Recognizing the complex needs of delivering software products, Pointwest ran a program in the last two months of 2017 aimed to develop the Product Owner competency among high-performing employees assessed to have this capability.

Dubbed as the Product Owner Development Program, or PODP, it was a collaboration between Pointwest Digital and the largest digital innovation firm’s own Learning and Development team. It tackles two objectives: (1) produce new product owners; and (2) generate new MVPs, which were part of the goals of the organization in creating new business models and revenue streams.

“New product owners will learn concepts in product management, and more importantly, apply these to solve real-world problems.”Benedict Basino, Pointwest Capability Talent Development Head

The pool of participants came from the Business Analyst role and budding product owners in the respective IT business units. In the program, participants immerse themselves in the Lean Startup approach in innovating new business, and they will go through defined phases and stages.

Collage of Photos from the Program

To ensure that participants gain both knowledge and experience, the organizers designed the program to have 2 major phases: Screening and Theory, and the Hackathon phase.

In the screening and theory phase, software engineers went through an assessment exam to validate their mental and emotional capacity. Those who made the cut then advanced through a series of self-paced e-learning modules through Mento, Pointwest’s e-learning platform. For every module, there were corresponding exams that they had to hurdle order to get to the qualitative assessment stage.

Members of the learning development team along with Agile specialists were tasked to perform the last stage of the Screening and Theory phase. Once completed, all the results of the 3 stages were tabulated to assess who qualified to be part of the final list of fifteen (15) participants for the succeeding phase: a 3-Day Lean Startup Hackathon.

The grueling Hackathon phase can be likened to a ninja training camp wherein the top 15 finalists take a deeper dive into the Lean Startup Methodology (Eric Ries) and the Product Management Framework (Roman Pichler). It is during this phase that participants take their respective business hypotheses and subject them through cycles of scrutiny and development until they form a Minimum Viable Product or MVP, which they built with a 3-person team made up of a hustler, a designer, and a hacker.

Mark Zavalla presenting the Program to Stakeholders

Culminating the program was an Investor Pitch Day, where members of the Strategic Leadership Team and various leaders of the organization sat as venture capitalists who can decide to invest on any of the products presented. Each team delivered a 15-minute pitch to a panel of investors and judges, which was followed by a 10-minute Q&A portion.

“Many of the participants went through their pitches without sleep, yet they were able to deliver profoundly and with detail. Talk about dedication!”Lucy Flores, Pointwest VP Outsourcing for US-Western

Eight teams reached the Investor Pitch phase, and each were able to deliver their pitches. By the end of the pitch day, the top 3 MVPs that garnered the most investments took home prizes along with the opportunity to have their MVPs become actual software products that Pointwest will market to its growing customer base.

“Hackathons like these are opportunities to train and assess the mettle of our engineers. Much more than their agile capabilities, we get to see their ideas as well as their ability to strategize on how to best achieve their goals given a short period of time. It will be good to see more of these.”Rene Quizon, Pointwest Executive Director for Business Development

In this age of continuous disruption and the consumers’ unquenchable thirst for software that goes beyond their expectations, the need for agile product owners cannot be more obvious.

Product Owner Pitch Day Finalists

Pointwest is developing this highly-skilled role for the organization to continue blazing the trail of digital innovation. The firm seeks enhanced software development services that provide real benefit for its clients through project leaders who understand the need to consider business value, navigate shifting user/consumer demands, and at the same time,  have respect for a guiding-yet-growing roadmap. Whether Pointwest collaborates on product development for enterprises or startups, builds its own software products, or takes on globally-sourced agile software development projects, agile owners play a definitive role.

With such resources in play, businesses are assured of project leaders who can ideate, who can pivot to accommodate changes in demand, and who have the passion and desire to make those ideas come to life.


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Founded in 2003 by pioneers of the Philippine Global Sourcing industry, Pointwest creates value for its list of satisfied clients — including top Fortune 100 and local companies — with world-class digital services backed by international-standards methodologies and innovative practices.