Deanna Ballew, VP of Product Development at Widen, shares how she transformed a services company into a software company, adopted an agile product management methodology, and built a portfolio of products.
Deanna’s company, Widen, pre-exists the internet. The 70+ year old company had been a leading business services company until competition from new entrants providing digital solutions created pressure to win and retain business. This motivated Deanna to create a new product development team and ultimately launch a portfolio of digital products.
Widen’s brand and stability were an asset to Deanna in getting started. However, she had to overcome the company’s legacy practice of creating custom solutions for clients. This practice prevented her team from developing products for a larger market. “It worked when we only had 12 customers. When we got to about 150 customers, it was still working. At 300 customers, it completely broke down,” she said.
In order to build scalable digital products, and ultimately launch a portfolio of new products, Deanna deployed several strategies. She instilled an agile product management methodology, required product managers to get out of the office and talk to customers, and aligned her cross-functional team’s goals to the desired outcomes of the product.
You’ll learn a lot from this episode about product strategy, digital transformation, and prioritizing new opportunities.
Here are the highlights:
- The advantages and disadvantages of starting a digital product management practice at a 70 year old company (5:55)
- How Deanna approaches building scalable products for a larger market (11:15)
- Deanna’s approach to adopting agile methodologies (14:30)
- How Deanna approaches developing a product strategy (18:25)
- The methodology Deanna uses to prioritize opportunities for growth (23:15)
- Deanna’s advice for building and managing teams (25:20)