Meet the Product Manager
At dualoop, we have a big heart for the product management community and love to engage with product managers to celebrate and learn from their unique stories and advance the field of product management.
Join us in this interview series where we amplify the voices of product managers who are making waves inside their organisations!
Saskia Deschepper — Product Manager @ Liantis
What led you into product management?
I was working as a project manager at Liantis, focusing on budget, timing and scope, reporting on in-time delivery when our board (wisely) decided to shift from project to product orientation. Our IT department was reinforced with a solutions team consisting of product owners and product managers. The goal was to focus more on creating real added value for our customers, shifting from output to outcome. Solving problems instead of shipping software. After an inspiring conversation with NicolasVan Kerschaver (CDO Liantis) who has a strong vision on product, a vision I could and still can strongly relate to, it felt very natural to jump into the world of product management.
What does a typical day look like for you?
The only certainty is that the day starts with an early sport session to start right - fuelled with energy. What follows is a delightful and unpredictable mix of conversations with customers, reviewing product data and reporting on KPIs, interesting discussions on strategy, coordinating various product research projects, communicating and inspiring on what is cooking in the kitchen, coaching product owners, giving feedback on outcome to the teams and preparing ‘go to market strategies’ with our marketing colleagues. Finally, I also try to build in a short learning moment every day, reading an article, listening to a podcast or discussing a specific topic with my fellow product managers at Liantis (they rock!).
What are you currently working on?
I want to remain a bit mysterious about what we are brewing... Exciting! We will be launching a new digital product early 2024 for a target audience we want to reach more, enabling entrepreneurs to focus even more on their core business. Be sure to keep an eye on Liantis social media this winter!
What piece of work are you most proud of?
I am especially proud of the growth of our solution organization, from a feature factory to focus on working on what adds most value for our customers and organisation. The focus on evidence-based decision making instead of trying to reconcile opinions is a nice evolution in both strategic considerations and small product decisions.
Steering by numbers and not by day-to-day gut feeling sounds logical but can be challenging in fast-growing organisations.Finally, I am also proud of the platforms for our customers and internal colleagues.We succeeded in giving our more than 2000 colleagues from different areas of expertise a 360° view on the customer so that, as a ‘compagnon de route’, they can guide entrepreneurs in Belgium through the unique breadth of Liantis services. My Liantis, the digital platform for clients and accountants, is also evolving from a digital gateway to different tools into a secure, integrated and personalized ecosystem to inspire, advise and inform our users. By doing this we move away from the image that the platform only serves as an administrative must do.
What are your favorite tools to use during work?
- Buffl: A validation platform through which we can quickly test hypotheses indifferent target groups starting from problem exploration to concept validationand pricing/packaging research.
- Figma: Reviewing and tracking the designs for new features or concepts, withgreat respect for our UX teams creating the best user experiences for ourcustomers
- Miro: For structuring ideas and facilitating planning sessions and workshops
- Hello Customer, Power BI, Data studio, GA, Google TM, Excel: Gathering,interpreting, reporting and steering on customer feedback and user data is animportant yet challenging part of being a product manager. The sources arediverse and it’s not always easy to combine data.
- Userbit: An important timesaver for me is the transcription functionality wheninterviewing customers.
How is your product team structured?
Liantis has 5 product managers who report to our CDO, who is also head of IT. This ensures close cooperation. I’m responsible as a PM for the Liantis wide solutions and platforms for all target audiences and can count on 5 product owners and product teams. My fellow PMs focus on specific business lines like social security, payrolling, insurances, wellbeing and internal departments (HR, finance, ...).
What do you pay attention to when you hire new PMs?
Experienced product experts are not easy to find in Belgium, so when recruiting, I mainly focus on the right (growth) mindset. Pms need to be empathic and critical thinkers, have a natural reflex to discover the ‘why of things’: why why why?!
This reflex will help them discover real user needs and prevent them from blindly developing solutions that won’t be used. As Louis Jonckheere (Showpad) said some weeks ago: “PMs who are kick-ass data analysts but lack empathic skills won’t necessarily be kick-ass PM’s.” In a corporate organisation with over 2000 colleagues frequently having new and good ideas, wanting to serve entrepreneurs, the critical reflex as a PM is indispensable. We need to decide and prioritize based on quantified impact and clearly aligned objectives in order to invest where most added value can be created.
What product or feature have you been blown away by recently?
Recently we’ve been setting up some experiments using generative AI. It's amazinghow huge translation efforts, rephrasing complex juridical information for specifictarget audiences become one-minute tasks creating extra time for our experts tofocus on building better customer relations.
What do you do to stay up to date and become better as a product manager?
I’m an avid reader of books and I follow a lot of product professionals. Reading their blog and listening to podcasts inspires me every time. But the best lessons learned are those that made you hit the wall.My favourite way of keeping up, is taking part in communities. The product consortium is my favorite one, meeting up with other product professionals inspires me every time. Next edition coming up October 10th at the Liantis office in Ghent. We will be talking about AI in product management, so don’t miss out!
I’m also looking forward to attending ‘Mind the product’ in London and ‘Web summit ’in Lisbon. Last year I joined ‘The product management festival (PMF)’ in Zürich. Since digital product management in Belgium is a relatively young discipline it’s really enriching to meet product managers from all over the world.
Any recommendations for aspiring product managers?
- Be decisive, stay close to who you are and what you stand for
- Trust your judgement and be enthusiastic
- Inspire your teams on the why
- Agree upon common objectives and share the impact of your work
- Be grateful for their work and celebrate success
- Embrace feedback!