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Director Product Management
Product Suite Responsible for:
SDL Contenta, SDL Contenta S1000D, SDL LiveContent S1000D – Currently focused on the Aerospace & Defence (A&D) market; and tag-team with Frank Closset on SDL XPP
Time in role:
14 years interspersed with various other roles in Customer Support and Services
Background & Experience:
Jennifer has been working with digital content for over 30 years, initially helping newspapers modernize their editorial, advertising and production facilities. Since then she’s participated in the transitions and technological advances that have revolutionized the publishing industry; e.g. take the term font - it used to be used only by print professionals but now is an everyday term that your mother might use, “How do I get the font bigger in my e-mail?” She’s held many different roles across a variety of functional departments. Her current focus is on the Aerospace & Defense market where a single structured content specification, S1000D, is being adopted globally by commercial and military systems manufacturers resulting in fast, accurate, shared and personalized content delivery to those who need it to get their jobs done
Wakefield, MA, USA
What does an average day look like for a Director of Product Management?
I am blessed to have a job with an incredible variety of activities, opportunities and challenges; along with a strong, supportive team of colleagues and a first rate customer base. Never a boring day, that’s for sure! Like most PMs, I don’t have a set routine other than processing e-mails and attending to any urgent requests early. If I’m not on the road attending an industry event or at a customer site I’m usually collaborating on several things in parallel, trying to move them all forward.
Here is a snapshot from a “typical” Wednesday last September:
What is the one thing you are most passionate about when it comes to end user experience?
Answering the question: How can we make it easier and faster for that user to get their job done while maintaining a high level of quality?
In the case of our editorial users, project managers and publication managers, streamlining and simplifying their work allows them to deliver accurate tech pubs to the field faster. And for those using the tech pubs, for example aircraft mechanics, providing them with an intuitive interaction with personalized instructions means they complete that repair correctly and quickly which helps get that aircraft back in the air, which in civil aviation means more revenue and in military aviation may have much more serious implications.
Tell us about your interaction with customers and end users? How does this impact what you build?
I present quarterly product update Webinars to our customers and solicit their input on our plans and their business strategies. I also conduct Voice of the Customer sessions in conjunction with events our customers attend and leverage the XyUG Community, in particular the annual conference Wish List session. I also encourage our customers to contact us directly to share their business strategies and feedback on our product roadmaps.
All of these activities provide input to the product backlog and help me develop the feature ROI which feeds into prioritizing what we do in upcoming releases.
We have been proponents of customer focus groups for many years. A focus group is made up of customers and prospects with expertise in, or a desire for, a specific new feature we’re developing. This allows us to get real user input during the design phase and regular feedback throughout the development phase to ensure we hit the target when we release. Our process for engaging with these focus groups, along with the results, have been well received.
Having engaged with customers a lot, where do you see customers having the most challenges when using these products? Why do you think this is?
Our install process and programs have been problematic for quite some time. For a while, install improvements kept getting pushed down on the priority list, primarily for two reasons – they are used infrequently relative to the rest of the product capabilities/features; there are only a few people who have to perform them vs the large numbers of application users. That said, as Nuno relayed in his interview, we can’t keep ignoring that our customers and their IT staff are expecting: simple, IT friendly, and in our case Department of Defense (DoD) ready, installations and upgrades. We have specific install improvements targeted for our next release and will continue to address this in future releases. Yes, a one-click installer would be magnificent!!!
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? My husband, my iPad loaded with my favorite books, music and movies and a solar charger for my iPad.
What 1 question do you always like to ask Customers when speaking with them? What is your biggest pain point? Sometimes it has nothing to do with our application but their responses provide insight into their daily job which gives me a perspective I didn’t have before.
How do you see technology in this area progressing in the next 5 years? I see two game changers in our market segment – augmented reality, for faster (and heads-up) maintenance and also additive manufacturing, 3D printing. Maintainers will be use augmented reality to identify a part and to see how to change out a part or execute a maintenance procedure. Videos will be more prevalent. With additive manufacturing you can manufacture the spare part you need just in time at the point of use, eliminating inventory requirements but also potentially taking a step back in terms of increased risk related to quality control.
What do you think have been the milestones in the development of this product over the last 5-10 years? First was taking an application that had been deployed across a variety of markets and implemented for a myriad of structured content standards and focusing on a vertical market based on that market’s adoption of one specification tech data standard: S1000D. We foresaw the exponential growth of that standard, which is currently being realized and is poised to continue with explosive growth projected during the next 5-10 years.
We were first to market with an S1000D solution set, providing a best of breed solution for the fundamental components of content creation through delivery while also providing robust, documented APIs to integrate with other best of breed enterprise applications throughout the product lifecycle chain.
Providing customer solutions is not always just about the product features! Another milestone was working with Gregg Ogden and our team to launch our highly successful go to market strategy & campaign “We Make S1000D Easy” – tied into our easy to implement, easy to use product offerings but also leveraging our trusted adviser status in providing education and services to help teams adopt the new standard.
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