Customer is key


Have you ever heard what product owners are? They play an important role in our agile Excellence & Performance Tribe (TEP) and make sure that the activities the teams are working on are always aligned with their customers’ requirements. In the below interview, Patrick Pommerenke, Product Owner for the Squad OPX Edelstahl-Service-Center (ESC) Dortmund, talks about his new role, working with the internal customers and the Scrum Methodology.

In March, MX started its agile transformation with the Excellence & Performance Tribe (TEP). It is currently made of 29 people from the business and headquarter who work in dedicated Squads. A Squad consists of 5 – 9 experts, fully committed to delivering strategic solutions in the areas of Procurement-, Operational Excellence and Strategic Customer Management.

Patrick, you are a Product Owner now. What do you like most about your new role?

I really like the close interaction with the Squad team and our internal customer, the ESC in Dortmund. We are in constant exchange which helps to prioritize our activities and create customer benefits in product increments very fast. The team works in short iterations of two weeks (‘sprints’) and the ESC Dortmund provides feedback regarding the results achieved. This is how we ensure that the product increment always fulfils customer value and the team is working on the right tasks.

What is a a product increment?

A product increment is a sliced version of a full product. Goal is to provide something to the customer early in the development phase so that the customer sees what he will get. In our squad this could be for example a productivity dashboard for one machine with a limited functionality, which can then be rolled out to other machines if the customer feedback is positive. The customer has the opportunity to provide feedback very early in the process, which makes sure that the Squad team can focus and prioritize its activities according to the customers’ needs.

Edelstahl-Service-Center (Dortmund), Patrick Pommerenke (Product Owner), Andreas Beil (Leiter Edelstahl-Service-Center), Caroline Uhlenbruch (OPX), Ilse Henne (CTO)

What is different now from how you have managed projects in the past?

The overall focus and approach is different. In classic project management I managed waterfall project plans and the internal customers were primarily involved in SteerCo meetings. As a result, the project goal that was clearly defined at the beginning of the project, however in doing so we did not have as much flexibility to meet changing customer needs along the way as we do have now. This is very different now. Due to my close exchange with the customers and the short sprints, we are always able to adjust the focus and priorities of our tasks and thus ensure at all times that, the product we are working on is of most benefit to the customer.

What are the next events in your Squad?

We are in our fourth sprint, which means that there is not that much time left until we finish our solution. One sprint always lasts two weeks and concludes with a sprint review meeting in which the Squad team presents its achievements to the customer. This is always very motivating and inspirational for the team and for me because the direct feedback from our customer helps us to improve and to develop.

Thank you very much for the interview!

For more information please contact Georg Ziegler or Tanja Nigbur.