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If you tackle a problem from a functional perspective, within a small corner, you will always only ever be able to come up with a limited possibility of solutions. The impact becomes very limited — that’s the main issue before you even start thinking about losing money or losing efficiency.
Marco Burelli

Marco Burelli


Offering highly accurate maps and navigation, real-time traffic information, and APIs that power more effective mobility on a global scale, just to name a few — TomTom’s repertoire is remarkable.

And, there’s no doubt: HR Portfolio Manager Marco Burelli embodies the company’s innovative thinking.

Marco’s using Productboard to drive a transformation in Human Resources, to help teams function more like a product management organization — and focus on cross-functional visibility and collaboration, ruthless prioritization, and customer-centric decision-making.

Under Marco’s leadership, TomTom’s HR team has already:

  • Reduced 10-20 monthly team alignment meetings to just 1
  • Moved from 11 independent and disconnected team roadmaps to 1 comprehensive, global HR roadmap

To help others who are hoping to improve visibility, alignment, and prioritization in their HR departments, Marco shares:

  • Organizational dynamics that can limit innovation and impact in Human Resources, with examples from TomTom 
  • How Productboard helped TomTom get started rethinking workflows and visualizations
  • How HR teams can drive more value by operating with a Product mindset, including examples of TomTom’s wins

How it started: TomTom wanted to prioritize and track the most valuable initiatives

Marco doesn’t mince words about the structural issues that can diminish any Human Resources organization’s ability to drive value.

The history of HR is very much bound to a distribution of resources based on functional domains; teams only focus on the deliverables within their function. For example, if a new training is requested by a business unit, the Learning and Development team’s concern would be only about the content of the specific training, not taking into account the context — just the details but not the full experience, the potential for reach, value and the effects on the rest of HR. Whereas, if you look at learning as a product, you would take a completely different approach.

Marco Burelli

Marco Burelli


In TomTom’s case, Marco says functional teams had quite a bit of freedom to advance agendas they felt would drive value. 

However, without a comprehensive platform to view and strategically plan every project underway, Marco explains that it was difficult to “make sure we were working on what mattered most; resource allocation was a bit of a mess and the impact to the business was unclear.” 

Here’s where Marco stresses that working in silos presents a major opportunity cost — the impact you could have made thinking more holistically about what value means for end users and the business. 

“If you tackle a problem from a functional perspective, within a small corner, you will always only ever be able to come up with a limited possibility of solutions,” he explains. “The impact becomes very limited — that’s the main issue before you even start thinking about losing money or losing efficiency.” 

To break silos across TomTom’s HR function and “more effectively allocate cross-functionally, the biggest priorities,” leadership decided Productboard would be the best fit to drive change.

How it changed: Partnering with Pro Services to evolve processes, visualize portfolio

Eager to transform ways of working and incorporate Agile practices within HR, TomTom decided to partner with Productboard’s Professional Services team to get the most value possible from its new platform. 

As the HR organization didn’t quite have a clear mapping of its current processes, Marco says the Pro Services team proved patient and accommodating in “teaching us and taking time to discuss relevant integrations” that would help TomTom embark on a new chapter. 

Once Marco and Pro Services created the right visualization of TomTom’s HR portfolio, Marco got to work ensuring the appropriate team members would start entering information so that the entire department could benefit from more transparency. 

Next came the exciting part: helping HR start to operate with a product mindset

Here’s what Marco considered in driving more customer-centricity — and how TomTom is already embodying product management best practices by increasing visibility and improving cross-functional collaboration.

How it’s going: growing sense of customer-centricity, stronger visibility, collaboration

  • Developing customer-centric thinking

For HR leaders hoping to create a culture shift toward product thinking, Marco recommends thinking deeply about the needs and experience of your end user — just as product managers do during discovery. 

In the HR case, that person might be an employee who needs a certain health benefit or development opportunity. Here’s Marco’s advice, no matter the end user.

If you look at the needs of the person, you want to care right until those needs are fulfilled. You need to look at the A-to-Z experience, which means looking away from just parts of the process that will serve those needs and instead thinking about how your ‘product’ as a whole can deliver them satisfaction. This is the direction we’re getting into at TomTom, moving into an awareness that is beyond functions.

Marco Burelli

Marco Burelli


At TomTom, Marco has started championing staff in HR to think about “creating personas, understanding who is the customer,” he explains. “Then, once that persona is defined, we involve existing people that fit that persona into our design thinking.” 

Depending on the project, he says you might well have an array of personas. That’s okay — as long as you have created standards for your department on what success looks like for meeting their needs.

For example, he mentions that in considering a rewards program, “you want to think about the person’s needs, phase in life, performance management, and more.” 

Once you’ve started developing a customer-centric way of thinking, that’s where Marco advises that a boost in transparency is your biggest asset to work like Product would.

  • Adding visibility to improve efficiency and reporting

“Now, [with Productboard], we have visibility into most of the things we need to know — ownership of initiatives, when stuff happens, the high-level description of initiatives, and any other relevant content,” Marco explains. 

This newfound visibility not only helps Marco understand the right things to prioritize, but also helps him more effectively report on the progress and impact of projects underway. 

Marco says he uses the portfolio view in Productboard “to keep people managers, my main stakeholders, up to date on our roadmap, which we could not do before.” 

Now, Marco can report on “the consequences of any changes we’re bringing, and employees are more involved in the development of initiatives, another effect of Agile practice.” 

Lastly, leveraging Productboard has helped teams work more effectively together; bridging information gaps and strengthening collaboration where previously silos existed.

  • Strengthening collaboration by thinking beyond individual functions

Whereas TomTom once saw a somewhat siloed approach to HR, Marco says teams in the department are beginning to think much more cross-functionally.

The main outcome of Productboard was to create cross-functional teams to work on certain projects, instead of having separate functional teams working on their own part. If five people can see the bigger picture together, they can sit and decide solutions made through awareness of the portfolio.

Marco Burelli

Marco Burelli


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