By Jesse Drake
UIT's Product Management (CTO) Team oversees the lifecycle of products and services for the Chief Technology Officer organization. CTO Product Managers Anita Sjoblom and Caprice Post set the vision for UIT’s growing family of products related to:
- Infrastructure: Storage, Virtual Machines (VMs), wired/wireless network access, cable/fiber services, data center co-location, web hosting, and desktop support.
- Unified Communications: UMail, UBox, telephones, call centers, call recording, Skype for Business, collaboration conference rooms, cellular coverage, UTV, and Office 365.
"Any product offering starts with some need out there," said Product Management (CTO) Director Dave Huth. "Are researchers able to do the things they need to do? Do departments have any unfulfilled need related to infrastructure or communications? Are their needs being met by the products and solutions we offer? That's the foundation of all sound product management. We own the management of the need; individual units own the technical solution."
Huth, Sjoblom and Post stand at the crossroads of business, technology, and user experience, toggling between roles as product experts and customer support staff. They can be called on to conduct product presentations in collaboration with vendors, and work with UIT leadership and technical area managers to map out funding, resourcing, and risk response strategies. Once a business case is made and cost models are developed, the product is delivered.
Sjoblom and Post drive the lifecycle, determining when to launch, upgrade, and ultimately retire a product offering. Keeping tabs on how products are performing relies on data and direct feedback from customers and stakeholders. These responses help them troubleshoot tricky functionalities of technology products, prioritize changes, and bring in support teams as needed.
"IT product managers learn the user's voice by using and testing the product, and by continuously talking to users and getting feedback firsthand," Sjoblom said, noting that her team has a hand in training development and the content of Knowledge Base articles.
The bottom line is always to maximize user value and the U's bottom line.
"Our job is to provide products and services that allow students, faculty, and staff to get their jobs done in the most cost-effective way," Huth said.