I know it goes without saying that you need to understand your customers and users’ needs when you work on an internal product.
You also need to understand the expectations of your stakeholders so that you can properly balance those expectations with your customers’ needs. You also want to make sure you understand stakeholder expectations and get feedback from that perspective so you avoid (or at least minimize) swirl that results when stakeholder expectations are not met.
The amount of swirl that happens in those situations increases with the size of your organization and with the number of stakeholders you are or are not aware of.
Here are some resources that might help you identify stakeholders, understand their expectations and to approach situations where stakeholder expectations are not in line with customer and user needs.
Customers, Users, Stakeholders
I threw around the terms customers, users and stakeholders in the intro and I thought it might be helpful to provide a bit more insight into how I differentiate the three groups of people associated with your product.
How to identify stakeholders
One of the best tools for identifying stakeholders who are directly involved with your product is the context diagram. Used properly this helps you identify everyone who has some involvement with the day to day use of your product. What it doesn’t necessarily help with is identifying all the people who have a political reason to support (or not support) your product efforts. An organization chart, or discussions with people familiar with the organization, can help a great deal there.
Why you should pay attention to your stakeholders
Here are some techniques that I’ve found helpful for working with stakeholders, as well as a couple of other perspectives on how to treat stakeholders appropriately, and not as internal customers.
How do you communicate with stakeholders
Some criteria to keep in mind when deciding how to communicate with stakeholders, as well as helpful techniques you can use at different levels of detail.
How to say no without getting fired
To be effective as a product owner, you’re going to have to know how to say no. In order to do that and not get fired, set expectations and explain why.