Interviewed by Milan Lostica.
You may have heard the common refrain that robots are coming to take our jobs. This is a slight exaggeration, but it is fair to say that robots have the ability to replace some of the mundane and repetitive work we do every day. Tasks like processing invoices or Excel files, moving data between Excel files and third-party apps, and sending emails are all ripe for disruption. And companies like UiPath are leading the charge with robotic process automation (RPA).
What exactly is RPA? UiPath Product Lead Mircea Andrei Grigore puts it this way: “It’s like putting Legos together to create the process. Then, a robot that sits on a machine executes that process and does the work for you.” By taking care of repetitive tasks, RPA clears the way for people to focus on more strategic and meaningful work. Or, as the tagline on the UiPath website puts it, “Tedium is our medium.”
And clearly there’s an incredible opportunity here. Even within the growth-obsessed startup world, UiPath’s story reads like a fairy tale. Founded in 2005, UiPath the fastest-growing IT company in history, has raised $1.1 billion in total funding, and recently closed its 5,000th customer. This year, they were listed as number 3 on the Forbes Cloud 100 list.
This is even more impressive when told through the lens of Product Lead Mircea Andrei Grigore, who joined the company in 2017 and has watched the number of employees, offices, and customers grow at an exponential rate.
We caught up with Mircea to learn more about UiPath’s story and how productboard has helped the product team maintain structure and transparency throughout this exciting period of hypergrowth.
UiPath’s product team is not afraid of change
“If a tool doesn’t fit our needs, we replace it. You need to be that kind of agent to survive.”
When Mircea joined UiPath, there were only about 40 or 50 employees at the office in Bucharest. Now there are close to 3,000 employees distributed around the world. There are about 100 product managers within the company. The wider product team — including project managers, UI designers, and UXers — is around 300.
Growing at such an unprecedented rate puts the product team at UiPath in a unique position. Despite bringing in people who’ve worked in larger, more established companies like Facebook and Microsoft, “we don’t have any product manager that have worked at this level in our company,” explains Mircea, “we’re the company with the fastest growth in history in IT.”
Hypergrowth has empowered the product team to take a fearless approach to their work. Mircea says, “if a process doesn’t work, we change it. If a team doesn’t work, we look for ways in which that team can work. We split it apart. We put them in other teams. We try something else without fears or frustrations. If a tool doesn’t fit our needs, we replace it. You need to be that kind of agent to survive.”
This openness to new tools and techniques helps the product team continue to evolve and take on new challenges.
Using productboard to keep everyone on the same page
“productboard has been central for our team and workflow.”
Communication and transparency is important for any team. But within UiPath’s ever-changing and rapidly scaling environment, people have to be intentional about keeping other team members up-to-date on what they’re doing. As UiPath has grown and the product team has expanded to numerous offices worldwide, productboard has become the source of truth for the product roadmap and other product team activity.
“We needed something to communicate what’s on the roadmap, what products we are working on, and what teams around the world are working on this week, this month, this year, this quarter. productboard has been central for our team and workflow.”
UiPath’s product team appreciates the simplicity of productboard and the fact that it helps with all their daily tasks. According to Mircea, “it enables our product managers to capture insights from all our channels, define high-level requirements, and group them by features. This helps us prioritize features on the roadmap that will be shared with everyone.”
And while some product managers have personal preferences for tools that they like, Mircea says that “all our core products that have taken us this far are in productboard.”
“All our core products that have taken us this far are in productboard.”
After seeing how effective productboard was at promoting transparency, a strong core of product leaders at UiPath advocated for granting everyone at the company access. They encountered some resistance from a few product managers who worried about oversharing, but ultimately decided to make the roadmap available to everyone.
“We actually share productboard with everyone in our company today,” explains Mircea.“The reason we do that is because we consider everyone a product manager in UiPath. They have a responsibility to build a better product, so they need to know what is coming up, what was launched, what we’re thinking of investing in.”
“One of the reasons why we use productboard is its simplicity. Other products used before I joined the company were complex and hard to understand, and we don’t have time to ramp up new product managers that come on board. productboard has everything product managers need to do their jobs well on a day-to-day basis, and it is easy enough for a large and scaling team to learn and adopt.”
“We actually share productboard with everyone in our company today.”
Creating a hive of feedback and insights
“It’s something that we encourage everyone in our company to do. If they talk to a customer and that customer offers feedback (good or bad), you should take that feedback and put it in productboard.”
productboard allows the product team to gather feedback from a wide variety of sources, including customers, sales, and people in all other areas of the business.
And it really is being used this way. “It’s something that we encourage everyone in our company to do. If they talk to a customer and that customer offers feedback (good or bad), you should take that feedback and go to productboard and put it in there for us.”
The way Mircea sees it, “productboard has become the hive.” Any time someone has a piece of feedback, they’ll share it within productboard. Then someone from the product team will pick it up, read it, and aggregate it with what other customers are saying. They’ll pin it against features, start researching the theme or the problem, and talk with other customers and teams across the company.
UiPath even has a few automated processes (robots!) to pull feedback from several other sources and add them as insights to productboard. In the future, they plan on adding even more automation around their productboard processes to curate data, process and tag insights, and match insights against existing features.
And once the product team has a clear understanding of what the problem is, they will start writing requirements or work on design with the UI and UX team. Mircea explains, “at all of these points they will be working with productboard because they need to track everything they are doing.”
UiPath has also recently started using the productboard’s public Portal to collect insights directly from customers. There are currently a few products available through the Portal, and so far the initial participation and insights have been so helpful that Mircea says the product team plans to include more in the future.
Preparing for the next phase of growth
UiPath’s philosophy is that all employees are product managers and have a hand in the growth of their product. Feedback can come from anyone at any time, and it’s essential to have a central place to gather, sort, and act upon it. Using productboard to power cross-departmental communication and feedback-gathering will become even more important as the company enters its next stage of growth.
We realize the team at UiPath is so busy growing that they probably haven’t had the chance to fully appreciate their success. But we’re here cheering them on for the astounding growth they’ve achieved so far and we’re excited to see what they accomplish next.
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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.