Product People Refined 270+ Backlog Features & Improved Transparency on Discovery for Cognigy, a Conversational AI

The Client: Cognigy

Cognigy is a Germany-based Conversational AI company focusing on powering up contact centers.

Founded in 2016, its vision is to automate conversational services to make life easier for everyone by enabling a world in which Conversational AI works alongside human workers in leading enterprises globally.

Example of Cognigy’s low-code User Interface for creating Virtual Agents

Cognigy’s worldwide client portfolio includes Daimler, Bosch, Lufthansa, Salzburg AG, and many more. In 2022, Cognigy was marked as a leader in the first-ever Gartner Magic Quadrant for Conversational AI Platforms.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Conversational AI Platforms

The Mission: Interim Product Manager

In 2022, Andre Duis, VP of Engineering, wanted to fill a Product Manager ad interim.

Their current in-house Product Manager was on prolonged leave. Product People joined to replace the previous PM for 5 months, from June until the end of October 2022, when they returned, and we onboarded them.

The role had been vacant for a few months when Product People came in as interim support. We helped not only to deliver various Q3 initiatives but also to define the Q4 roadmap.

How We Helped

Initiative 1 - Collecting Feature Requests from Customers

Problem:

  • Collecting them coherently and efficiently and understanding their importance, impact, and urgency is always challenging. This was one of the areas of improvement identified by the leadership team.
  • After interviewing the different stakeholders in the process (Customer Support, Product team, and Customer Success), we identified that the process of collecting and reviewing those requests could have been more homogeneous, potentially slow, and error-prone.
  • The team raised their wish for additional process transparency and documentation.
  • The product team and customer success team had different approaches for monitoring and reviewing the requests.
  • The customer success team often dealt with feature requests disguised as problems/bugs reported.

What has been done:

  • Created & shared a Feature Request Process document with a simple list of 5 steps: we started by documenting the as-is process from our perspective and included a proposal of small changes.
  • Created a Proof-of-Concept for a new way to document feature request statuses between the Customer Success team and the Product Team: the new document was created by exporting the tickets reviewed by the Product Team, including all the relevant information and labels for the Customer Success team to follow up with Customers.
  • Reviewed the change proposal with the relevant groups and stakeholders and shared the new process documentation.

Initiative 2 - Insightful Quarterly Roadmap

Problem:

  • As the full-team PM had been on leave for some time before we joined, we started by catching up on the company’s goals for that quarter and what the development team had in progress.
  • During the road mapping exercise, we also cleaned up and organized the backlog of 270+ tickets based on what made sense at that time for our client and upcoming initiatives.
  • Introduced a process for feature requests and opportunities that we transformed into a roadmap for the quarter which was reviewed and presented to the Product team.

What has been done:

  • Ticket Estimation - Effort (T-shirt size) and Impact (Business Value)

  • Identifying themes to cluster tickets
  • Impact vs Effort Matrix
  • Opportunity Solution Tree
  • Q4 Roadmap

Initiative 3 - Audit Events Dashboard

Problem:

  • Cognigy has very different User personas, some more comfortable with technical products than others. The existing Dashboard was difficult to interact with for some of the customers.
  • Certain key features needed to be included, and it was not easy to use. Existing customers and potential ones (via RFPs) were very clear: “We’re missing a visual record or keeping track of events, for example, when somebody deleted an object or a node as it’s only available through an API.”
  • As this was time-sensitive and designer work is expected out of PMs at Cognigy, we prototyped a few customer-facing features in line with Cognigy’s design system.

What has been done:

  • Discovery Workshop with all relevant stakeholders to analyze existing customer conversations from the Customer Support and Customer Sucess team. We also had an “Expert Interview” with the Director of Engineering where he talked about the previous work on the dashboard and all the problems he noticed.
  • Benchmarking of existing implementation and competitors’ offerings: we analyzed the existing implementation of the dashboard and the APIs required to support our development and analyzed how competitors approached the mentioned problem and voted on useful ideas.
  • Prototyping: we had a pen-and-paper sketching exercise with all stakeholders to gather multiple prototype ideas and created low-fidelity prototypes based on all the information gathered previously.
Miro Board for the Discovery Workshop
  • Delivery after the workshop: we created feature specification, mid-fidelity prototypes that the team can work on and the next steps of improvement with 3 proposed improvement iterations.
  • In the refinement, we aligned with the team, and the feature was ready to be assigned in a Sprint.
  • After 3 iterations, the development was complete and ready to be deployed.
  • The final step: we launched a redesign of the Audit Events dashboard on the Cognigy Platform. 🚀

Redesign of the Audit Events Dashboard

Discovery Mini-Missions: Our Side Quests

As Interim Product Managers, we supported Cognigy’ Teams with multiple discovery missions:

  • Creative Weekly Product Team meetings: we proposed a new template (powered by Miro) to foster creativity and collaboration during regular meetings. The status updates are to be collected async in the board, and the sync time is to be used to discuss product challenges and brainstorm on cool initiatives to start!

  • The company has different types of customers and interacts with different roles within the customers’ organizations without a common language (i.e., defined User Personas). We expanded the PM Knowledge Base by reaching out to different company departments and gathering their User Persona documents and lead several User Persona Brainstorming Sessions with various stakeholders (Director of Engineering, CS, PMs, etc.) to  expand on the existing documentation.
  • We did Product Coaching with more junior members of the Product team, this consisted in 1:1 sessions to navigate through the challenges.
  • Creating a discovery habit: we expanded the PM Knowledge Base & presented different Discovery Methods (i.e., Opportunity Solution Tree and FOCUSED method).
Example: Opportunity Solution Tree
Example: FOCUSED Method

Delivered Outcomes

💡 Improved transparency on discovery work through updated initiative documentation and the introduction of different techniques.
💡 Refined 270+ backlog features focused on Effort (T-shirt size) and Impact (Business Value) estimates, enabling future POs to have a more data-driven approach when creating roadmaps.
💡 Successfully scoped and delivered the remaining agreed-upon initiatives for Q3. Based on the refined backlog, we created a Q4 roadmap for 2 teams.
💡 The Discovery & Delivery of multiple features directly contributed to our team’s OKRs and set the foundation to quickly build, debug and test agents by ensuring usability, stability, and scalability.
💡 Set up for success 2 PMs joining the company with handover documentation and a list of ongoing/upcoming priorities to hit the ground running.

In the Client's Own Words

Space Crew of this Mission

Product Management Consultant
Associate Management Consultant
VP/Director/Head of Product

For Clients: When to Hire Us

You can hire us as an Interim/Freelance Product Manager or Product Owner

It takes, on average, three to nine months to find the right Product Manager to hire as a full-time employee. In the meantime, someone needs to fill in the void: drive cross-functional initiatives, decide what is worth building, and help the development team deliver the best outcomes.
If you're looking for a great Product Manager / Product Owner to join your team ASAP, Product People is a good plug-and-play solution to bridge the gap.