Degreed enables organizations and individuals to build and measure skills on their platform. Their platform helps its customers identify which skills they have and where their gaps are. It then connects people to the content and work experiences to fill those gaps. Degreed also provides the means to showcase those skills in a lifelong learner’s profile.

Kat Kennedy, Degreed’s Chief Experience Officer, is thrilled about everything they’ve accomplished so far. She explains that one of the largest global consumer goods companies recently found that employees who are actively learning on Degreed’s platform are promoted at a higher rate. “Because of our product, those employees were more enabled. They learned, and it positively impacted their livelihood.”

We talked with Kat about how Degreed uses productboard and how what started as a helpful evaluation during productboard’s early days turned into an essential executive management tool.

Enhancing Jira

Degreed first started using productboard as they were searching for product/market fit. At the time, Degreed used Jira for nearly all of their development processes. “We were using Jira for everything, and our backlog was a nightmare.”

Degreed decided to use productboard to manage the product development process right up until the point the process hits an active sprint (managing feedback, defining features, prioritizing, and planning). They then use Jira to track the work in an active sprint, whether its engineering escalation or active product development tasks. This decision effectively removed the entire backlog from Jira and kept all future-facing product development work in productboard.

As Degreed retooled their processes around productboard and Jira, they not only saw productboard’s value, but they were able to make their usage of Jira more effective. By removing the backlog and a “sea of user stories that were never completed,” the whole company can now access a cleaned-up version of Jira to quickly find the status of bugs they reported and to get a clear view of active tasks in motion. Using productboard effectively helped them make Jira more valuable for their organization.

Institutionalizing product management

“We’ve got the whole company in productboard.”

Everyone at Degreed has a view of the product management process with various permissions settings. While everyone has access to the roadmap, certain groups, such as Client Experience, can submit feedback.

Degreed’s product operations team ensures that the entire company can participate in the product development process. The head of product management works closely with the product operations team to determine how items are tagged, how best to show the roadmap, and what level of detail to show. The product operations team also onboards employees and educates them on how to use productboard and, if necessary, how to submit feedback. The team also reviews and updates these processes as needed.

“Product operations makes it possible to scale the team while enabling the Client Experience team to do what they need to do.”

Gaining executive visibility

Over Kat’s seven-year career at Degreed, she moved from software development to product management and eventually became the company’s Chief Product Officer. Most recently, she became their Chief Experience Officer. In her new role, she oversees the product, engineering, and security teams to manage the entire customer experience from ideation to delivery while also ensuring that everything is secure.

We asked her if she uses productboard less now that she has so many responsibilities.

“I use it more!”

Kat explains that as she’s now further from the details, productboard helps her stay in sync with her 150-person team and their activities without waiting for scheduled meetings. While she may not use productboard to develop products, she uses the information in it to craft the stories needed to align everyone, including customers, internal teams, and Degreed’s board. “I can pull from what all the product managers, designers, and engineers have documented in productboard and weave a narrative in the context of the overarching landscape, which helps me push the business forward.”

Importantly, Kat also uses productboard to get up to speed on clients before meeting with them without having to wait for information from her team. She can get information about a specific feature and what feedback clients have provided. “productboard not only enables us to scale our teams but also to serve our client base as it rapidly scales.”

“productboard not only enables us to scale our teams but also to serve our client base as it rapidly scales.”

Climbing the mountain

Kat doesn’t define success by big major wins, like metaphorically conquering Mount Everest.

“Successful product management is taking little steps that push you further up the mountain. There are moments where you can look back and see all of the little steps that led you very high up the mountain. Success is appreciating the joy inside of every single tiny success, because those tiny successes, over time, add up to building the mountain.”

Kat feels she and Degreed are at the point  where the foundation they’ve laid is now enabling them to execute on some extraordinary things with some of the best companies out there. We’re certainly very excited for her and the team as well as they continue to make products that matter!

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productboard is a product management system that enables teams to get the right products to market faster. Built on top of the Product Excellence framework, productboard serves as the dedicated system of record for product managers and aligns everyone on the right features to build next. Access a free trial of productboard today.

Monty Mitra Nov 8, 2019