Product Suite Responsible for:
SDL Digital Experience Accelerator
Time in role:
Background & Experience:
Support Engineer, Professional Services Consultant, Trainer, Java and .NET Developer. Studied aeronautical engineering and mechatronics prior to an career in IT.
Hobbies & Interests
Rock climbing, sailing and DJing mostly house music.
What does an average day look like for a Product Owner?
It feels like my day really starts when I attend the stand-up meeting of the DXA development team, during which we discuss their progress and any challenges they might have. Although I am working way before that, answering emails that arrived overnight from customers, partners and colleagues working in different time zones. A large amount of time is taken up by the ongoing process of reviewing and accepting work the DXA development team delivers, and managing the DXA feature backlog. That last part basically takes shape through continuous discussion with Product Managers around DXA’s road map and vision. This facilitates the mapping out of future features and functionality. Wherever possible I follow our developer community, answering their questions on Tridion Stack Exchange, and posting technical blogs on DXA functionality, implementation and application.
What is the one thing you are most passionate about when it comes to end user experience?
Facilitating the effective implementation of SDL Web technology for end users. Development of DXA was driven by my wish to deliver a product which was easy to use and simple to learn. After delivering SDL Web training to a small group in India, I realized it was an impossible task to reach all our implementers through classroom training alone. The DXA is a more effective means of providing it, and in creating the DXA I’m effectively trying to clone myself as a trainer ;o).
What are you working on right now? The development team and I work in two week iterations (as advocated in SAFe). I accept the work they deliver throughout each iteration, rather than all at the end. So right now I need to check their work and make sure it matches the requirements. Although until recently I was also heavily involved with the migration of our SDL Tridion World website, as a part of that we have released the new and improved SDL Appstore, you might like to check it out.
What is your Product Team focused on for the next 3-6 months? Right now we are finalizing the merge between DD4T and DXA. The team is almost ready with the backwards compatibility support, ensuring that when upgrading from either DXA 1.x or a DD4T 2 application to DXA 2.0, there is no need for republishing of existing content. After that our focus will be getting DXA 2.0 ready for its release. Once DXA 2.0 is released our focus will be towards adding support for the next release of SDL Web/Tridion.
Tell us about your interaction with customers and end users? How does this impact what you build? Talking to customers and implementers is something I really love and value as the most important part of my job. Having worked at SDL for 14 years in different roles (starting at Customer Support and then moving on to Professional Services), I have spoken with a lot of customers. Their views greatly impacted upon what to build, and what DXA has been developed overtime. During customer, partner and community events, I take every opportunity to talk to as many end users of DXA as possible so I can validate if planned developments are still making sense in the current market and climate.
How can customers reach out and share their feedback around the product? I’ve always tried to be very open and approachable, so most people know my name and email address by now. However, you can now also share feedback or submit product enhancements under SDL Web/Tridion Idea in SDL Community, and for DXA specifically you can submit them in the DXA GitHub repositories.
Which 1 person would you love to invite to a dinner party? If it were possible I would love to invite Steve Jobs to ask how he was able to so effectively pre-empt customer requirements even when perhaps the customer was unsure of what they wanted or needed, but had expectations that needed to be met.
Having engaged with customers a lot, where do you see customers having the most challenges when using DXA? Why do you think this is?
The biggest challenge our customers have when starting to use DXA is figuring out what parts of it they can reuse out of the box and what they should customize. Most developers are passionate about building everything themselves from scratch. However, it is more commercially effective to redefine a business process which accommodates already developed software, as opposed to investing in costly customisations to adapt to a pre-existing business process. For one, customisations add a layer of complexity for any organisation. Secondly, often times an organisation may be adhering to historical processes which may not necessarily be optimized. Adopting a generic process which may work better can sometimes prove challenging for customers to implement internally, but I’m convinced it pays off in the long run.
If you had a magic wand what one thing would you add as an enhancement to the product suite? The “one” thing I would like to change is progress all the version 1.0 add-ons still available in the product suite, to version 3.0 or 4.0 so they are more mature. Over the years we have created many nice things which I would love to see developed, however understandably priority is given to the core technology.
How do you decide what to build? I start with noting down my thoughts and ideas based upon years of experience in talking to and helping customers implement our product suite. I then validate against a number of sources to evaluate relevancy to the current market and use the Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) prioritization model to determine what should be built first.
If you were about crash onto a desert island with plenty of water, food and shelter what 3 things would you save and take with you? Things not being people (because else I’d start with bringing my partner for sure), I’d bring a rope, my climbing shoes and a carabiner. Hoping I could do some rock climbing on the island and then listen to the wind passing by when I’d reached the top.
Can you share 1 quick tip you have learned that makes your use of SDL Web so much easier?
Use the training material available. SDL Training has many paid for courses available but we also create a lot of free stuff in the SDL Web/Tridion and Developers groups. These include using DXA when you need to (learn how to) implement SDL Web.
What 1 question do you always like to ask Customers when speaking with them? What do you really think about DXA, because so often people stick to political correct answers while I personally am happy for people to be direct and straight to the point (as I am).
How do you see technology in this area progressing in the next 5 years?
What do you think have been the milestones in the development of this product over the last 5-10 years? When purely looking at DXA, which right now is only 3 years old, its biggest milestones are:
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I remember the earlier discussion about DXA backwards compatibility and thought we'd see a good effort there. But I was very impressed (to the point of disbelief!) when Bart demonstrated the DXA model service support old formats, meaning upgrades without republishing.
Great interview and well put, Bart. I'm glad I joined R&D with you and I'm proud to be part of this generation of "Tridion Product Owners."
Who's next, Nazia? :-)
I don't know Alvin Reyes maybe someone in community would like to suggest who they'd like to hear from? Pop your suggestions in the comments box around a particular person, or role in the product team you would like to learn more about and I will try and nab them for a chat :0)