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How Haven Life makes product planning less difficult



Note: This post was originally published on the blog of Built In NYC, an organization for tech professionals, and contains Haven Life's own rock star product owner, Meghan Furdyna. As part of our ongoing effort to introduce you to the people who make Haven Life so special, we wanted to share an edited version of the post, which highlights Meghan's thoughts.

“The best-designed plans for mice and males often go awry. .

Product managers know all too well the mood of this saying. Clumsy execution is often a people's problem rather than a strategic one, and poor communication can lead even the most iron-clad plans to chaos. Built in NYC recently met the base with our product managers for practical advice on how Haven Life keeps teams in sync, even when things are not going according to plan.

At Haven Life, product owner Meghan Furdyna often communicates and remains realistic about the production schedule. "If my timeline slips due to crawling range or competing priorities, I overcommunicate early and cautiously estimate the extra time needed not to underdeliver," Furdyna said.

Furdyna emphasized the importance of two-way communication in order to avoid possible surprises for the development team and to ensure that they have the opportunity to be real partners in the creation of the roadmap. Here, in Meghan's words, are some of the steps she takes to create and maintain customization throughout the product development cycle.

Make sure there is alignment between teams from the start

I look at our product plans from an annual and quarterly perspective. For annual planning, I work directly with my manager to understand the company's annual goals and how our work supports achieving those goals. At the beginning of the year, I will work with my team to describe a six-month roadmap. When we prioritize the team's roadmap, I coordinate directly with my stakeholders to ensure that our priorities match. Since we are building an internal software platform with complex functions, I must be aware of a few steps before implementing new companies.

Quarterly planning is then a refinement of the long-term roadmap. During the last month of the existing quarter, I start having more detailed conversations with my stakeholders about what to expect. We outline dependencies and start all conversations needed to gather feedback on the construction of future functional work.

When we prioritize the team's roadmap, I will coordinate directly with my stakeholders to ensure that our priorities are consistent.

Maintain adaptation throughout the development cycle

We have recently implemented what we call a program increment (PI) planning cycle for complete grooming and mapping of three sprints of development work. Our program increases are in line with my new business team's PI, which drives us to identify our dependencies on a more refined level and raise concerns with scope among our platform team and stakeholders.

A long-term project that I am working on with the new business team is adding an advisor-driven deferred income rate to our administrative platform. Every quarter, I work with a new business counterpart to describe our goals. During the PI cycle, we meet as a product team to define where we will need to collaborate and what we want to achieve in the next three sprints. To prepare for the next cycle, our development teams meet to describe development dependencies or clarifications needed before we begin our tasks. If re-prioritization of feature delivery is an option, I offer it as a solution.

When (and when not) to re-prioritize the product roadmap

If possible, I try not to re-prioritize within PI unless something critical emerges. If something critical comes up, my first step is to contact our platform team to determine if the request is something we can handle. If it falls on my team, I like to work with my technical leader to fully understand the details of the request and whether it is realistic to deliver within the desired time frame. If there is pressure from our new business partners to prioritize this new work over what was previously agreed, but the time is not possible, I will return with the new business team and ask them to reconsider their list and ask where we can de-prioritize other objects.

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About Louis Wilson

Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a number of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men's fashion and grooming and more. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he has developed an unbridled passion for breakfast tacos, with his wife and two children.

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