Interview with Lucie McLean, BBC

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First of all could you give our readers a quick overview of yourself and your work?

I’m Executive Product Manager for BBC Future Media Sport in Salford, England. I moved to the North-West of England from London when the BBC relocated several departments to the region, including BBC Sport.

I’m responsible for a range of digital sport services including BBC Sport’s app, mobile website, desktop indexes and our websites for forthcoming major sporting events including the World Cup, Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games. I work with a fantastic team which includes several business analysts, software engineers, web developers, testers and project managers.

Last year I was product lead on our products for the London 2012 Olympics which included three mobile websites and dedicated iOS and Android apps which served 2,500 hours of live video of the Games.


How do you see the discipline of product management set up in todays organizations? Where do you see room for improvement?

It’s heartening to see the growth of product management and the recognition that product managers help companies make better products. Ensuring that these product managers have the support they need to do their jobs well is crucial. Strong business analysts who can define the product detail required by the development team are essential – we’re lucky to have really strong business analysts in the BBC but not all product managers are so lucky.

I’d still like to see more open discussions and collaboration between product managers in different companies. We’ve learned lessons from our product development experiences which others could benefit from. The Product Tank network is really valuable here but I think product managers should be more comfortable contacting each other for a chat to exchange ideas and experiences.


How do you see product management developing within the next few years?

I suspect we’ll see product managers using metrics and data more rigorously to quantify the improvements to performance, audience experience and profit that their decisions make. I’m always interested to see how companies use multi-variant testing and data to make product decisions. I suspect we’ll see smaller firms integrating this more into their product thinking – products like Google’s new Content Experiments API are really lowering the barrier to entry in this area.

I think we’ll also see product managers for virtually all audience-facing services becoming multi-platform product managers as users move away from desktop PCs and towards tablets and mobile devices for their internet usage and content consumption.


What 3 tips would you give a head of product for the next 2 years?

Spend some time day every day learning about your audience. I find it really valuable watching how people use their devices everywhere – on public transport, at the airport, in the pub.

Don’t forget your KPIs – knowing whether something worked or didn’t work is crucial in developing and refining product features.

Talk to your team – everyone has something to contribute so make time to involve everyone in your team in developing potential product and feature ideas.


What can our attendees expect from your presentation and which 3 learning points can they take back to work?

I hope attendees will find that my session presents concepts and ideas that are easy to understand and easily applied to their own roles and products.

My session will give attendees a chance to review how they think about users in their product development – an opportunity for a quick audit and potentially some ideas for things to think about and do in the future.

We’ll also explore the use of personas – building quick personas for our products – and thinking about how we create narratives around these personas to tell the story of our products in a way that will help build support and understanding of our product visions.

Thank you! Lucie McLean

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