Mark Vasiliy Smetanin Lead Product Manager and Product Owner

Mark Vasiliy Smetanin Lead Product Manager and Product Owner

Mark Vasiliy Smetanin founded the «Complete Hospitality Management» company. Later he attracted great investors and visionaries to deliver great products to our customers. He is building, improving, and upgrading products as Lead Product Manager / Product Owner.

He has more than ten years of managerial experience and seven years as a Senior Executive of several successful companies. He proved to be a successful talent manager whose work brings outstanding results.

Mr. Smetanin has a Master’s degree in IT science, PMI-PMP, PMI-ACP, Certified Planner, and Certified Product owner obtained an MBA from one of the best business schools in Europe. He has an authentic black belt management style. He also proved to be a successful consultant, negotiator, and very talented product manager and product owner.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you excel in this role?

All right, let me provide some structure.

1. I have a natural passion for product management. For me, it’s like a game.

1.1 I love describing the ideal product, researching, and understanding: how it works, who it is for, why they need it, and when and where it is available.

1.2 Understanding the goal of creating or improving a product is essential.

2. I love to work with customers and teams.

2.1 Who are our customers? Identify the user group that we want to target. Investigate and listen. How does that user group is correlated with our team or company’s mission?

2.2 Identify and prioritize pain points. What kind of pain are we trying to solve? Why are we going to solve this specific pain point?

3. I am a big fan of teamwork and collaboration.

3.1 Usually, we brainstorm to create a list of solutions and then prioritize them. Using the prioritization techniques could be scored on Value VS Complexity, MoSCow, Kano, and Rice. It all depends on the product and the company’s values.

3.2 It is always fun to elaborate together on MVP and define Success metrics.

3.3 As a team, we can successfully predict risks, organize them, prioritize them, and think about how to avoid them and manage them in case of risk incidents.

Can you explain your product and how many customers it serves?

It is a tool that helps rentalpreneurs to build their web platform and synchronize all calendars with platforms like Airbnb, Expedia, and VRBO. As a huge plus, our Project management tool connects the customer directly to the property.

We currently ship the boxed versions to more than 2000 B2B and SAAS versions to 1362 customers.

Can you explain how often you release new functionality to customers?

We implemented DevOps techniques now we deliver faster. When it is possible, we release every ten days. We plan to release it every two weeks. Sometimes we have technical debt. Sometimes we need to implement new technology, work with the API of our partners, or new payment gate, so we need to plan spikes.

Of course, there are cases when everything doesn’t go as planned, so we use some techniques from XP. Recently we implemented additional smoke tests before merging the code. We want to ensure we can ship quickly and often deliver small increments.

Can you tell us about your most recent major product release, and your role in it?

The most recent product release was the WordPress platform for our customers. So our clients can create, edit, and combine their products, services, and properties with full functionality. My responsibilities are:

  1. Investigate why our customers insist on this version. Easy to use, Easy to edit, add products and create content.
  2. Understand pain points. The most important thing is our customers want to make sure that they can develop their unique portal and add/remove features and products by themselves or their teams.
  3. Set the scope: web portal, inventory SYNC, Products. We shipped as a demo with one product, one service, and one property.
  4. Define the success metrics. Current users are switching from the current version to the WP version. New users that are not in our database.
  5. Make sure that the customer is happy with the final product.
  6. Deliver the project within three sprints.
  7. Allocate resources
  8. Prioritize tasks, help to refine the backlog, and collaborate in Sprint planning and sprint reviews.
  9. Communicate with the team and stakeholders
  10. Make sure that everybody is on board. Be an ambassador between UX/UI, dev, and Sales teams.

There is no job below me. Total ownership of the product.

Can you explain how you assist customers and why you work in a consultative support role?

  1. To build great products, you must understand your customer’s pain points. To be able to find the appropriate solutions, you need to convert everything into a game. Be an ambassador between UX, UI, Dev team, Engineering team, Customers, and stakeholders.
  2. I love to work with people. I had my own Hospitality Industry company as Super Host and Premium partner more than 28 times. I learned a straightforward thing – nobody like it when you sell something. This is how people own something. Clients acknowledge the decision and the solution. Everybody enjoys participating in the process of buying and making their own choice. To achieve that, you must be a great listener and enjoy working with customers, stakeholders, and partners.
  3. Any Product manager should understand why we are developing this product. What is the need behind this? How exactly should it and what should this product deliver? One of the essential metrics nowadays is CX – Customer experience. Consultative support is the best way to create great products and make your clients and stakeholders happy if you want to be successful.

What are the most difficult challenges for a Product Owner?

  1. Balancing competing priorities: As a Product Owner, you will ensure that the product you are responsible for meets the needs of various stakeholders, such as customers, sales and marketing teams, engineering teams, etc. Balancing these competing priorities can be challenging and requires strong communication and negotiation skills.
  2. Managing a remote team: If the role involves working with a remote team, it can be challenging to maintain clear lines of communication and ensure that team members are all on the same page. It requires additional coordination and management to make sure that everyone is working towards the same goals.
  3. Keeping up with new technologies: The software development industry is constantly evolving, and staying up-to-date with new technologies and best practices can be challenging. It is essential for a product owner to be able to identify and incorporate new technologies that can improve the product and its competitive advantages.
  4. Handling changing requirements: As a product owner, you will be responsible for managing a product backlog, which can be a list of items to be delivered, such as new features, bug fixes, etc. The requirements of these items can change frequently, and it’s important to have good methodologies and processes to cope with changing requirements and to keep the team aligned.
  5. Making trade-off decisions: The Product Owner role requires you to make trade-offs between different features, scope, and timelines, balancing the needs of the stakeholders without compromising the quality and user experience. It requires strong leadership, knowledge, and analytical skills.

What makes you believe that you are an ideal product owner?

Because of my experience, skills, and qualifications. Specifically:

  1. My proven track record in leading the strategy development, engineering, and improvement of B2C SaaS products. I have led the growth of monthly active users and active partners and successfully launched products that attracted significant revenue.
  2. My educational background includes an MBA and a Master’s degree in Computer Science and various certifications such as Certified Scrum Product Owner, Certified Scrum Master, PMI-PMP, and PMI-ACP. This educational background and credentials have provided me with a strong foundation in the principles and practices of product management.
  3. My knowledge of various tools and methodologies, such as Agile, R&M -Certified Planner, Kanban, Jira + Confluence, Asana, Base Camp, Lucidchart, Mural, MIRO, Concept maps, Collaborative Meetings, App Wireframes, Mapping and Diagramming, Product Roadmap, OKR, Retrospective, Conversion funnel backlog, user story map, UX Project Canvas, Customer development. This knowledge allows me to hit the ground running and bring value to the team from the start.
  4. My ability to work remotely and the ability to be part of a dynamic and exciting environment with a great leadership team. This is particularly important in this remote working era, and it allows me to stay connected and collaborate effectively with remote team members.
  5. My passion for product development and eagerness to contribute to the success of Wishpond Technologies. I am a proactive person, and I am always looking for ways to improve products and processes, which would help Wishpond Technologies to achieve its goals.

Overall, I believe that my experience, skills, and qualifications make me an ideal candidate for the Product Owner role, and I am excited about the opportunity to join the Wishpond Technologies team and make a positive impact.

How do you excell and speed up the development project

I am a Product Manager – manager of the process. Before taking on any project, we talk with our whole team about constraints and resources.  I am working with stakeholders an UX until we have 40% done. I bring this to the developers with visual sketches, frameworks, and rarely prototypes usually lo-fi, to have a conversation and understand the constraints.

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