Product management is a practice that is new to government, and it is critical to the success of our mission. Our partners must understand this and allocate the necessary resources and time to ensure they can manage their products by themselves. So, when working with a partner agency, a big part of our job will be helping partners set up and sustain product teams and solid product development practices so that they can take over after we leave. A product that is dependent on our leadership and support will die when we walk away.
It is important to meet partners where they’re at to help them learn and practice new ways of working and align with industry best practices such as lean/agile development, user-centered design, and working in the open. We begin by understanding how the partner works and what’s important to them, demonstrate what’s possible, bring them into the process, work side-by-side, and provide feedback and guidance as they take the helm.
By the end of the engagement, we should be walking away from product teams that are already healthy and functional and own the vision for their product. This will look different for each engagement, and everyone on the team will play a role. An 18F product manager will need to lead this effort and plan for the transition from the beginning.