Upskilling a Product Team as Interim Product Lead for Ostrom

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The Client: Ostrom

Ostrom is a Berlin-based Certified B Corp™ digital energy management platform. It makes green electricity affordable and easy to manage for households in Germany.

Unlike traditional providers with long-term contracts, Ostrom offers monthly tariffs and full support in both English and German. Furthermore, it provides electricity at market purchase price from 100 percent renewable energy sources.

Consumers can view their energy consumption and control their tariffs in real-time using the Ostrom app. In 2023, Ostrom rolled out dynamic pricing and electric vehicle charging integration and its roadmap includes incorporating smart meters and more. All this will support Ostrom in becoming the leading B2C energy platform in Europe by 2030.

The Mission: Interim Product Lead

Ostrom brought us on board during a pivotal transition from startup to expansion. The two Product Managers, albeit having in-depth knowledge of the renewable energy sector, lacked formal product management experience. They recognized the need to transform the organization to meet their growth plans, and part of this strategy was to recruit a Product Lead. Despite a six-month search, this position remained vacant as they strived to find the perfect fit.

Our mission was to elevate their product management practices and bridge the gap between theory and everyday implementation. This included reshaping their prioritization practices, improving ticket refinement, and optimizing product development workflows.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 The team consisted of:

  • Chief Product Officer
  • 2 Product Managers
  • 1 Designer

Our Main Quest: Transforming the Organization

✅ Onboarded Quickly

Upon joining Ostrom, we swiftly completed the onboarding process and familiarized ourselves with Ostrom’s strengths and areas for improvement. We conducted comprehensive stakeholder interviews, which offered valuable insights into opportunities within the product development process. After the interviews, we prepared an Opportunity Assessment that aligned with the company’s goals & product team vision. This document detailed our findings, defined problems, set priorities, identified sources, and proposed solutions to improve their product processes.

We presented the Opportunity Assessment to Ostrom's Chief Product Officer and product managers for their review. The assessment included areas for improvement (by priority), status quo, and our proposed solutions for low-effort high-impact improvements; it served as our roadmap and evolved as we monitored the team's progress.

First Deliverables within the first 3 weeks:

  1. Opportunity Assessment to provide an overview of our assessment of the Ostrom product management function and identify potential growth opportunities.
  2. RICE Prioritization Framework with practical guidelines to standardize the definitions for each score. We also conducted several co-working sessions to help the product team adopt and apply the guidelines.
  3. Product-Tech-Design Ways of Working Flow to map out the lifecycle of an initiative and how the different teams worked together to progress from ideation to solution to delivery. From this, we identified critical areas that needed improvement to improve velocity, streamline communication, and enable better collaboration.

✅ Solved for the Client: Restructured RICE Prioritization Practices


  • The team had a theoretical understanding of the RICE scoring system but had different interpretations of how to assign scores. This resulted in misalignment between the product managers responsible for applying RICE and slower adoption to integrate this into daily product decisions.

What has been done:

  • Customized RICE Scores: We investigated their product and available analytics to create realistic definitions for Rice, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. We brought in examples from our consulting experiences to guide the team through this process and then built in real Ostrom examples tailored to their context.
  • Hands-on Co-working Sessions: To incorporate the new RICE practices into the product managers' daily operations, we organized co-working sessions with the team. During these sessions, we applied the updated RICE guidelines to initiatives. This approach provided a practical learning experience and ensured the theoretical knowledge was put into practice.
  • Continuous Calibration: Following the implementation of the new framework, we held retrospective sessions to collect feedback on the use of the RICE scores. This ensured the method was relevant and effective for guiding the team's prioritization efforts.

✅ Solved for the Client: Improved Ticket Structures


  • While the product managers had in-depth knowledge of the domain, the information was not consistently being translated into the Jira tickets. Epics focused heavily on technical implementation and omitted essential information to produce a user-centric solution. Tickets also lacked considerations for known edge cases and clear requirements regarding the solution. This led to frequent back-and-forth discussions with both design and dev in pursuit of clarification or due to misalignment.

What has been done:

  • Best Practices Template Customized for Ostrom: Given our extensive experience working with clients on product delivery, we shared templates for epics and user stories that were proven to be effective and reduced the need for follow-up queries. We worked with the team to adapt this to their specific ways of working so that the prompts were clear and the efforts fruitful.
  • Co-working Sessions on Ticket Refinement: We conducted multiple co-working sessions with the product managers to help take theory into practice. In these weekly sessions, we worked through existing epics and user stories to help the product managers articulate requirements and consider different scenarios thoroughly.
  • Feedback and Improvement Cycle: We maintained an ongoing review and feedback loop with the product managers after the initial co-working sessions. This consistent support reinforced best practices in ticket refinement, encouraging the product managers to critically consider both user experience and technical details in their work.

✅ Solved for the Client: Optimized Product Development Workflow


  • The product, tech, and design teams faced collaboration challenges due to the increased scope and growth ambitions of the organization. Some symptoms included unclear handoffs, ambiguous ownership, and excessive back-and-forth communication, which hindered efficiency and muddled the project scope. A primary root cause was the blurred line between opportunity assessment, solution ideation, and product refinement, prompting teams to rush into solutions without fully grasping the user’s problem.

What has been done:

  • Workflow Mapping and Effective Improvement Cycles: We conducted a workshop involving members from the product, tech, and design teams to map out the entire product development workflow. This session helped identify pain points in the current process and document the tools and communication channels in use. After initial adjustments based on the biggest pain points, we conducted team retrospective sessions to gather feedback and helped the team agree on a series of improvements and checkpoints to continue achieving an optimal workflow.
  • Increased Emphasis on Solving User Problems: Our workflow improvements included impactful changes like collaborative ideation sessions, design reviews, and epic handovers to the dev team. This reorganization (on top of improved documentation of relevant information in Jira tickets) distinctly ensured team members fully understood the user problem before developing solutions.
  • Better Oversight for Leadership: After clarifying distinct stages in the product lifecycle, we also introduced clear JIRA statuses that allowed the SMT to have high-level visibility for the current state and progression of features. This not only reduced ambiguities in team collaboration, but enabled leadership to easily have necessary discussions regarding resources, strategy, and roadmapping.

✅ Solved for the Client: Enabled Better Data-Informed Decision Making


  • The product managers had existing experience in pulling data to answer ad-hoc business questions during prioritization discussions; however, their dashboards were missing critical data points to support their ongoing work and were inconsistently utilized in daily work.

What has been done:

  • Defined Key Metrics from User Flows: We mapped user flows for key features to understand critical touchpoints and actions impacting user experience and product success. From these flows, we identified essential metrics for Ostrom to track user behavior, product health, and potential areas for optimization.
  • Increased Familiarity with Dashboards: To foster consistent and insightful data use, we developed mockup dashboards that illustrated how to visualize and interpret key metrics across different product scenarios. They were used in a hands-on exercise to help the product management team practice applying data insights to daily product decisions. This enabled the product managers to set up the necessary tracking measures and custom dashboards for themselves to monitor product health and gather insights for product decisions.
  • Bi-weekly Analytics Reviews: We implemented a bi-weekly analytics review process to encourage data-driven decision-making. During these sessions, the team assessed the performance of recently launched features against predefined success metrics. Additionally, results from these reviews are shared with the broader company to keep stakeholders informed. This routine not only evaluates the immediate impact of new features but also promotes a culture of continuous learning and adaptation, ensuring transparency and alignment across the organization.

Our Side Quests: Discovery Mini Missions

  • Continuous User Discovery: While our mission was only designed for 3 months, we wanted to ensure that the team was equipped with knowledge & tools that would help them long after Product People concluded the mission. While Continuous User Discovery was de-scoped so that we could focus on the adoption of other initiatives, we identified this as an important improvement and took action to set the team up for when they did have capacity.
    • We implemented a Customer Insights database that was maintained weekly by customer success, product, and other stakeholders to collect real feedback from users.
    • We created an Opportunity Backlog database that collected feature ideas and recurring user pain points (connected to the Customer Insights database) so that the product team could easily view and assess potential developments during prioritization reviews.
    • We provided an overview of Continuous User Discovery best practices for their reference and held a presentation sharing use cases from our experience as consultants.
  • Onboarded the newly hired Product Lead: We designed a full onboarding schedule, given that we had a month of overlap with the Product Lead. This included deep dives into the assessments we made, the changes we introduced, and improvements ahead to keep the momentum of progress. We integrated training on certain topics and offered open sessions so that she had a comprehensive knowledge transfer from us and felt empowered in her role in leading the product team in the future.
  • Improved Documentation: As we worked on many topics, we made sure to record all of the newly introduced or improved guidelines, best practices, and new procedures in the company Notion. However, knowing that the team needed to apply these practically, we designed our documentation in a format that allowed them to use it daily as an easy reference and dig into the in-depth background context only when needed.

Mission Achievements: Delivered Outcomes

💡 Established clear and comprehensive RICE prioritization practices, enhancing transparency and consistency in how initiatives are prioritized, and aligned on the criteria for decision-making.
💡 Streamlined the product development collaboration and fostered team cohesion by revamping their workflow, and establishing clearer handoffs and communication protocols.
💡 Implemented a structured approach to ticket refinement that enabled product managers to articulate requirements and scenarios more effectively.
💡 Cultivated data-informed decision-making and fostered a culture of continuous improvement and strategic insight by defining key performance metrics, and success metrics metrics, and establishing bi-weekly feature review sessions.

In the Client's Own Words

Space Crew of this Mission

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

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.