Ministry of Justice
What is Product Management at the MoJ
I’m Scott Colfer, Head of Product at MoJ and I’d like to tell you what product management means here.
Our specialism is optimising the value of products. We take insights from a multidisciplinary team and look for value in the sweet-spot where they align. We continually improve the quality of products based on the insights of others.
Celebrating our roots
Product management has existed for decades within profit-driven organisations and non-profits alike. We haven’t reinvented the wheel in designing product management at the MoJ, we’ve started with what’s already out there and tweaked to fit our context or because we’ve learned how to improve it.
Be part of something bigger
Back in 2015, I was tired of being a lone product voice in an organisation. I wanted to be part of something bigger. I joined the MoJ because of its product management community of practice, which supports us to develop and challenges us to improve. Four years later, it continues to be one of the most rewarding aspects of the role.
Product management in government
My product management profession is part of a wider product management family. Heads of Product cross-government co-wrote product management roles descriptions that we all use. We wanted to publicly define the skills we're looking for to be clear on expectations. We also wanted to allow progression to happen across organisational boundaries. This drives open and fair recruitment and promotion. I’ve never worked anywhere so committed to career progression.
What’s unique about product management at MoJ?
1. We measure value without profit
In the private sector, profit makes it easy to understand and measure value. Public services, however, are not driven by profit. So how do we measure value?
- mission value: achieving the mission of your department as well as possible whilst hitting financial targets for liquidity
- political value: maintaining the trust of the public in Government.
We still talk about the ‘bottom line’, business models, and return on investment. We just measure value through how much we help the public and support the government.
2. We’re specialists not generalists
Product management is never exactly the same from one place to the next. I’ve worked across most sectors and have had to adapt to the Civil Service. Some organisations use product managers as generalists who 'fill in the gaps'. Here, on the other hand, I finally get to do specialist product management for the first time in my career.
Product management career pathway at MoJ
This all sounds great, right? But what does it mean in practice?
Associate Product Manager
Our associate product managers are the product leaders of the future. We're investing in potential at this stage of the career pathway. Our associates become full product managers within 12-24 months. This happens through training, support, and development on the job. Associates start by learning product management tactics which involves breaking down a product strategy into smaller, SMART goals. They then move onto product management strategy which builds the value proposition, business model, vision, and roadmap for their product. We have developed an associate product manager programme with GDS.
Our product managers are capable of leading the product management strategy and tactics for a single product. Our huge portfolio includes products such as make, register or end a lasting power of attorney and check if you can get legal aid,
Senior Product Manager
This is an interesting point in the career pathway. Senior Product Managers often start off as ‘really busy product managers’. They have hands-on responsibility for 2-3 products. Over time though, they start the progression from product management to product leader. They start to own the combined product strategy for their group of products. They stop running their products separately and start building a combined value proposition. They may increasingly have the support of one or more product managers. They develop their coaching skills and start to work with management teams as well as product teams.
Lead Product Manager
Lead Product Managers become the product manager for a management team. They take the skills they learned in product teams and tweak them to work in their management team. They lead the product strategy for a unit of their organisation. Leads have overall responsibility for two or more groups of products. They're likely to have the support of at least one senior product manager for each group. Leads are also responsible for the performance of the product managers in their unit. They're likely to lead a local community of practice.
Head of Product
This is me at MoJ. I'm responsible for the overall performance of my profession and for our overall product strategy. I have further defined our role in this Product Management Handbook.
Join us and work on stuff that matters!
There are loads of opportunities for product managers who want to work on stuff that matters here at MoJ. You can check our current vacancies or you can register with Civil Service Jobs and set up alerts for all roles of interest to you.
I’m happy to chat in real life about my role, get in touch in the comments below if you'd like to know more.
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