13 Jun 2017
A Day in the Life of a Digital Experience Center Product Manager
I’m an early bird, so I tend to get to the office early, though our day doesn’t really begin until 8:00. I settle in with a cup of coffee and read an article that a coworker posted in our group chat. The article is about new product management books that look like good reading, so I add them to my Amazon wish list.
A few minutes after 8:00, I hear the snare drum that signals it’s time for our office-wide standup. I head to the kitchen and join the entire Digital Experience Center staff for a quick kickoff to the day. We are introduced to an intern who is joining us for the summer, hear some news from an engineer about the latest from WWDC, and I announce that this week’s lunch presentation is two of our own engineers sharing their experience learning to test Swift. I’m the organizer of our DEC Lunch Series – every Wednesday we invite Humana employees to join us for a tech talk – lunch provided! – as a way to encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration across teams. We’ve had a speaker every Wednesday for three years!
Next is product team standup. We stand in a circle, and each of us takes a turn updating the team on any news from yesterday, and their plan for today. I let the team know that I checked in on some service desk tickets, and that our designer and I made some progress on designs for the next several stories in the backlog. This is a small product team – just two engineers, one designer, and myself – so the designer and I tend to pair a lot on product and design tasks.
Our designer and I take a look at the backlog to see how much farther we’ll get this week. The engineers broke through some tech debt last week, so they’ve been picking up speed. I want to make sure we stay just enough ahead of them on design that we aren’t a blocker, but not so far ahead that we’re making too many assumptions. It looks like we need to flesh out the details of a few upcoming stories, so we spend the next couple of hours working on that, moving back and forth between Pivotal Tracker, our backlog management tool, and Sketch, our preferred design app. A couple of times, we lean over to ask an engineer what the level of difficulty would be to implement a certain UI element. We want to make sure to balance user experience and technical difficulty. By trying the simplest and fastest version of a solution first, we can get it into user’s hands as soon as possible, and get valuable feedback.
Break time! Taking regular breaks lets my brain decompress a little, especially after an intense design session. I grab a refill on my coffee and chat with a friend on another team about joining the Humana gym – a nice perk that I haven’t been taking advantage of like I should.
Time for meeting prep. I’m evaluating tools to help teams gather user feedback on internal applications, so I’ve setup a series of demos with vendors to see which tool would best suit our needs. I have one scheduled at 11:00, so I spend a few minutes refreshing myself on the feature set so I know what questions I want to ask.
The demo runs right up until lunchtime. The DEC takes lunch from noon until one o’clock – we often eat together, but we don’t work during this time! Downtime is important so we’re recharged and ready for the afternoon. Today I hit up a food truck parked outside, and bring my lunch back to the office and chat about movies with my coworkers.
I’ve got a couple of user research sessions this afternoon, so I pair with our designer to work on the script. We’ll start with some ethnographic questions, and then have the user try a couple of tasks we want test for usability.
User research session #1
We take a quick break between research sessions, and talk about interesting observations from our first session.
User research session #2
The designer and I synthesize our research findings, comparing what we observed in today’s sessions with what we’ve seen overall so far. A couple of minor UI improvements are identified and added to the backlog.
In the last few minutes of the day, I answer a question from engineering about how we plan to use certain data elements in the future, so they can account for that in the story they’re working on now.
Time to go! Our team’s workday ends promptly at 5:00. It’s great to have a reliable end time, so I can plan my evening and have a good balance between work time and personal time. Back at it tomorrow!