Project Teams without Project Managers: Exploring the PM Dilemma

Galen Low is joined at Railsware by Julia Ryzhkova (Product Manager), to discuss how one company is building complex software solutions using self-managing squads distributed across the globe and what this means for digital project management.
Interview Highlights
Julia Ryzhkova, an IT professional based out of Kiev, has been pushing the boundaries in business process management and digital product administration for more than 15 years. She has worked as a business analyst and PMO director, product director, customer satisfaction director, and with brands such as Adidas, Yandex, Heinz, and Zyxel in order to implement enterprise business solutions at scale. [0:55]
Julia is currently a product manager at Railsware. She works on the project, where she oversees teams of remote, self-managing Agile groups that are creating high-adopted products like Calendly. [1:18]
Julia is a teacher at Lviv Business School in business process and project management. She is also raising her baby to become a tech woman. [1:30]
Railsware recently created the BRIDGeS framework. This flexible decision framework allows you to describe your problem at a high level and then turn it into an answer. Julia is involved in spreading word of mouth about it. It has been in existence for over 15 years. Now, it is being opened to the public. [2:09]
Julia also works at Lviv’s Business School, where they are currently offering an online public training course on business processes. Julia hopes it will increase the maturity of Ukraine’s business process culture. [2:49]
Julia is currently a product manager. This means she manages products from development to marketing, pricing strategy and sales. Although she has a degree in tech education, she doesn’t enjoy coding. Julia was looking for a career where she could create an algorithm but have it coded by someone else. That is how she became a BA. It shaped her leadership skills, making her a BA team leader, project manager, head of the BA department, and a BA team leader. [5:15]
Julia realized that the success of her work depends on the product she’s working with. Julia decided to become a product owner and switch to R&D to be part of the product. Their product grew, their team grew and Julia was appointed Deputy Product Director, managing half the scrum teams. [5:55]
Julia was also promoted to customer experience director. She managed all aspects of support, including academy, support, and services. She was able to create great processes and deliver great results. [6:24]
Julia wanted to be able to focus on the customer benefits and leave the process management outside. This is what Julia sees as the difference between project and product management. [7:17]
Product managers are focused on customers and most products, while project management is focused on the process and results.
Julia Ryzhkova Railsware team structure is dependent on the project type they are working on. They are a product studio which means they create products for their own company and for others. [8:28]
Railsware likes to automate everything. Sometimes, however, there isn’t a tool that will do all of their needs. They decide to create something that suits their needs. They then used it, made it public and shared it with the market because they know that not everyone needs it. [8:42]
Railsware’s Smart Checklist for Jira was originally developed by one of their developers. After reaching 50k MRR, they decided to hire full-time developers. [9:12] has one development squad. This consists of four to five developers and one marketing squad.

Author: Victoria