Digital Expert's Corner

Thought Leadership, Best Practices, Insights and Examples


Digital Expert's Corner: Vision Product Manager

by Kimberly Samuelson
Post Date:05/02/2017

At Vision, we’re proud to be a part of a thriving community of internal and external government CMS experts. We thought it would be interesting to develop an “Digital Expert’s Corner” series by interviewing these skilled professionals, discuss their proficiencies and how they apply them to their roles. First up, is Vision Product Manager, Jake Sager.

Prior to joining Vision, you worked at a top-tier management consulting firm. Can you tell me a little about that?

Before joining Vision, I worked with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in their innovation arm called BCG Digital Ventures. It was an incredibly rewarding experience working with multi-national Fortune 500 companies to help define digital strategies and deliver software products to meet the rising demands of the everyday consumer.

Larger corporations are regularly disrupted by young, nimble startups; startups contributing to the perceptions of customers. It was up to me and my colleagues to help these companies navigate unchartered waters by proactively serving unmet needs.

That’s very interesting. How have you carried that over to your role as the Product Manager at Vision?

Consulting and providing digital products to multi-nationals requires a mindset to think at the macro-level. In other words, you must look beyond the current silo of your unique operations and look across adjacent industries to better understand consumer needs as a whole.

Local government and municipalities are similar in many ways. Specifically, organizations are feeling rising pressures because residents are attune to private sector customer experiences. In other words, the fact that I can hail a taxi with a few clicks of a button is now overflowing into the public sector. Residents will soon require seamless interaction with government entities as well.

It is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” we will see the tipping point. I believe it is already happening in some cities across the U.S. as you may have already seen from various Smart City initiatives.

Additionally, we are beginning to witness private funding and hungry startups enter this space. This will continue to influence resident expectations as they begin to demand better, more streamlined experiences.

As a Product Manager at Vision, I bring my expertise in product development and tailor it to the unique needs of the public sector. Everyone knows budgets are slimming so it is my goal to identify unmet needs and painful problems. Once understood by working closely with customers and end-users, we release a minimal viable product (MVP) and continue iterating over time.

Continuous improvement and an agile mindset drive successful, incremental change. Local government and municipalities are feeling pressure but we (Vision) are here to help.

You mentioned agile government and continuous improvement as it relates to product development. Can you expand on your approach to developing new products?

Sure. When focusing on product development processes there are not many differences between the private and public sectors. The primary differences stem from rules and regulations. For example, WCAG 2.0 and Section 508 are becoming more and more important to support accessible websites.  

Our quality assurance (QA) team uses screen reader software to test navigability for sight impaired individuals. We also work with focus groups as well to further stress test accessibility because sometimes a human element is required. Lastly, we have a strong partnership with a leading accessibility software provider to help us stay at the leading edge with new requirements.

Agencies tend to look to us as a leading expert when rules and regulations are introduced and I am sure they are relying on us to inform them of pending changes for the upcoming Department of Justice decision later this year/early next year.

If it is not a new rule or regulation shaping our product efforts, it is likely a customer pain point or unmet need.

We work very closely with both existing clients and potential clients. This takes many different forms but a few examples include on-site visits, collaboration at our Vision Innovation Academy, remote usability testing with clickable prototypes, and standard phone calls.

I am very adaptive to client schedules because I understand they are busy individuals. Any interaction is super helpful, however, and I always welcome requests to connect with customers.

Sounds like you stay pretty busy. Last question, I promise. What can we expect from Vision in the future?

*laughs* Yes, product management definitely keeps me busy, but it’s why I love it. It is never the same day twice, and I solve problems for people. It is a great feeling.

Unfortunately, I cannot say too much about what is on the horizon but I do believe the web content management systems (WCMS) are about to change as we know it.

No longer is content creation purely for the web. We need to consider other delivery channels such as social, mobile, and even the internet of things (IoT) such as Alexa and Google Home.

In addition, full-scale re-designs every 3-5 years will become a thing of the past. Resident demands change too quickly these days as technology continuously evolves. To address this shift, local government and municipalities must, too, focus on continuous improvement.

If you're interested in learning more about how Vision can help your local government agency keep up with ever-changing technology, contact us to schedule a consultation.

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