Opower Digital Self Service: Increasing customer satisfaction and decreasing costs through modern web functionality

The opportunity

Opower, where I worked from June 2014 until August 2017, had developed a reputation as the industry leader in user-focused software for utilities, a major reason that we were acquired by Oracle Utilities in the summer of 2016. I was tasked, along with my co-PM Kevin Chu, to bring to market a product that offered Opower's best-in-class UX on top of Oracle's expansive backend utility software in order to enable customers to seamlessly self service their needs online – saving customers time and reducing the associated cost-to-serve for utilities.

The team

This was a wide-ranging project that involved working with several teams across Opower and Oracle, including the user experience design and development teams, the Opower web team, the Oracle integrations team, and the sales, product marketing, and client success organizations.

My role

Given the breadth of the project, I shared product management responsibility with Kevin Chu, where I focused on defining and delivering product functionality: compiling and prioritizing likely client demands based on market research along with the product marketing team, translating user and market feedback into prioritized user stories and functional requirements, working with the user experience team to develop and test feasible user interface designs, soliciting input from a range of engineering teams to ensure the feasibility of our designs, and ensuring all teams were aligned on timeline and product scope.

Organizational lessons

This project demonstrated something that I've long reckoned: the quality of your product reflects the organizational efficacy of your teams. I focused up front on building a shared vision and approach among the disparate teams, and it paid off: folks who'd never talked before met in person, divergent assumptions were revealed and fixed, and a shared development methodology (based on agile) was concocted. Critically, as the PM, I didn't step in and try to dictate these details; rather, I focused on creating the space for more talented people to do what they do best, aligned with a shared vision for the product.

See also: Opower Digital Self Service Product Overview

Above: An authenticated user's homepage, designed to support the most common user actions. Below: The bill comparison and energy use modules, demonstrating responsive design.