,

Richard

Product Manager, Department of Premier and Cabinet

Length of service: 4 years 2 months

My journey so far

I started working in Product Management in 2004 when it wasn’t really a thing — it was just me and a much smarter technical person building up a community and platform for playing video games. From there, I dabbled in product marketing, startups, and digital strategy / production. While the industry changed a bit, I always interested in delivering user-focused digital products and services.

My first job in government was looking after a mature product which managed event bookings for business.vic.gov.au, the Small Business Festival, Councils, and other businesses across the state. The product was built in a different era, when projects had a defined start and end date and everything was planned up front based on business requirements, and any improvements were treated as a “change request”.

This meant that by 2014 when I started, it was becoming a pretty dated product. I helped make some improvements to the existing product, but within a year we made the decision to retire it and move to a modern well known solution.

After that I started working on improving how government delivered its digital information and services, and became the Product Development Lead in the Projects and Development team within Digital Engagement. I'm now with Strategic Communications, Engagement and Protocol in the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC).

At DPC I have worked on delivering new products and services including Engage Victoria, the Victorian Budget, and the Single Digital Presence project, as well as improving many other existing services.

My day-to-day work

Product Management is a moving beast, so each day can be different. I have to balance my time between operational and strategic work — ensuring there's day-to-day work for the Delivery Team to action as well as a plan to follow.

Most days start with a short standup meeting with our delivery team, and one with our UX, Design and Content teams. The rest of the day usually involves lots of discussion about community and public sector business needs. We'll talk about how these needs will shape the features we build into the product, and then translate it into user stories to help guide the people who'll build the product.

I make sure I’m always available to talk through the requirements with developers to ensure that what we deliver is what people want.

Working with stakeholders is another important part of Product Management, so we regularly meet to talk about priorities and negotiate when features will be delivered on the roadmap.

How my work contributes to the Victorian community

A lot of the work I do is directly influenced by the Victorian community and how they want to access Government information and services. My goal is simple — to provide our community with the best possible experience, particularly around equal access for everybody.

With so many websites to work on, sometimes it can feel like it’s “just another website”, but when you consider who the audience is and how it can affect their lives, it’s important I meet those goals.

Having worked on products like Engage Victoria and the Victorian Budget website, I’ve been lucky enough to see those goals met. The Victorian Budget website has allowed Victorians to read about the State Budget in language they understand and see how it affects their local community, while Engage Victoria provides a platform for community to contribute directly to Government and have a say about what matters most to them.

Opportunities like no other

The biggest opportunity of working in the Victorian public sector is you can make a real impact on people’s lives. Something as simple as trying to find information and apply it to a personal situation can cause a lot of grievance, but when we simplify that interaction we literally save the community time. There’s only a few sectors that can give you that kind of satisfaction in your job.

Experiencing diversity and inclusiveness

The transformation of the organisation into being openly supportive of LGBTI staff and their families has been one of the most welcome changes to the workplace I have experienced.

The organisation provided a great deal of support leading up to and during the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, and I was personally able to attend the historic State apology to the gay community for old laws that criminalised homosexual behaviour.

Proud of my work

Being able to influence actual change in the way Government communicates information online to community is some of my proudest work.

The new product that I'm working on, the Single Digital Presence project, takes this further and transforms the systems we use to deliver the information. We get to play with some cool tech too.

I love working with a team of digital experts who, like me, want to change the way Government works. We want to change the way people think about Government information and services, and we want to make things quicker and easier for everyone.    

Join me in the Victorian public sector

The Victorian public sector may not seem as cool as other sectors, but things are changing and Government has really modernised over the past few years. 

If you’re a Product Manager or Product Owner, you should really consider the public sector as a viable sector to join.

You’ll need to bring some patience though. Patience is something that goes a long way in the role, because of our unique sector. Things may not always happen quickly, but It’s important to remember that checks and balances are there to ensure the integrity of Government for the community of Victoria.

Richard