Katya Morgenshtein is the senior product manager for SAM GUARD® at Precognize. She shared some of her experiences working to continually refine the product and user experience for SAM GUARD® customers.

What is involved in your role as product manager?

My main responsibility is to prepare requirements for new features for SAM GUARD®. I follow the process all the way through from ideation to release. I sift through suggestions and requests from our existing customers for new features that they’d like to see, and I research customer needs and perform competitor analysis to prioritize features that will bring us more customers, as opposed to those which are more of a “nice to have.” 

Then I prepare the requirements, roadmap, and timelines for each new feature, and coordinate with developers. Before the new features are released, I prepare user guides and release notes, and I run a webinar to preview the new features for all our existing users. 

I also oversee the QA team’s activities. And I’m responsible for test planning and checking the test status. Sometimes I also handle pre-sales discussions, because of my deep product knowledge. I’m able to answer questions from potential customers who want to know details about SAM GUARD®’s capabilities. I know which features are in the pipeline, so sometimes they might ask a question and I can say “Well, that’s a great question, we’re actually working on a feature for that right now.”

What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day, I’m thinking about four different SAM GUARD® versions in parallel. One is the version that customers are currently using. Sometimes users come to us with questions, or encounter unexpected behavior, and then we need to understand the problem and find the solution. 

The second one is the version that’s completed development but is still in testing. I need to deal with anything unexpected that comes up in the testing phase. 

The third is the version that developers are working on now, based on the requirements that I put together. The dev team often has questions about what exactly a particular requirement means or how this part of the feature should look, and I need to respond to every detail. 

Finally, I’m working on the next version that’s yet to come, planning which features to develop and preparing the requirements, so that it’s ready for the developers when they finish their current tasks. 

Another part of my day to day job is screening bugs discovered by QA. I act as the liaison between the development team and QA, characterizing what needs to be done in order to resolve the bug. I’ll also discuss it with other stakeholders if needed. 

What is your professional background?

I have a degree in Information Systems and Business Management. Before I joined Precognize, I worked as a business analyst in a very large software company. I spoke with customers and worked on requirements and on closing the gaps between requirements and implementation. I’m used to working with data, requirements, and users, and I’m a big believer in data-driven decision making. 

When that software company closed down, I moved to Precognize. I’ve been here for nearly five years, since it was acquired by SAMSON, so I’ve grown with the product. I started off working in customer support, and then I became an applications specialist, because I always liked to see how things are actually working and try to improve them, rather than just using them as they are. Eventually, I became product manager.

Here’s a fun fact: I now work in almost the exact same room that I worked in at my previous job. Precognize is renting the same building that my previous employers rented, so I’m sitting on the same floor in almost the same place, but the work environment is very different.

What made you decide to work at Precognize?

Like I said, I come from data, so I like that Precognize is a data-driven company. I appreciate that I’m working on an innovative solution. And Precognize has a wonderful work atmosphere. It’s a small company, and it feels like a family. We all have good personal relationships, which translates into great working relationships. 

Unlike my previous job, there’s hardly any sense of hierarchy. Everyone has a contribution to make, and has a significant impact on the company’s success. I feel that this is a unique opportunity.

What motivates you in your daily work?

I find immense satisfaction in seeing the company succeed and grow. I aim to meet customer expectations and keep improving the user experience. I enjoy my work, and I am motivated by my belief that every new feature brings something important for the product and the company. Precognize isn’t just a workplace, it feels like we’re all on a journey together. I feel like a crucial player on the team.

What do you like best about your work?

I enjoy being in the center of everything, because I’m part of the process from beginning to end. A stakeholder may come to me with a suggestion for a feature, and I  work with the graphic designer to put together a wireframe, I prepare the requirements and explain them to the developers, and eventually it all comes to life. I find it very exciting.

What is most challenging about your work?

The multitasking is very challenging. I live with four different versions, and I need to keep reminding myself what the reality is right now and what’s coming in the future. 

It’s also challenging to be responsive to developers and the delivery team when they have questions for me. 

And it can be difficult to be responsible for QA, because I’m the product manager and so each feature is like my baby. When QA finds problems in the system, I have to admit that indeed, this does not make sense. I’ve learned from my personal life, as a mother of three children, that no one is perfect and it’s OK to admit that something wasn’t planned in the best way.

Can you tell us about a particularly important or interesting feature that you produced?

That’s hard, because I love them all! Even small features can make a big difference to user experience. For example, if we change the color selection for trends so there’s a greater contrast it may sound very minor, but it’s important for the human user experience. 

One feature which I’m excited about is a very good implementation that we just worked on for sensitivity management. Until now, it only supported global values, but customers requested the ability to prioritize different items of equipment. We held meetings to define the scenarios and the most common actions that users would need, and then we planned the design. 

The new version will have a really nice interface that will allow users to manage the sensitivity of different equipment when they monitor the plant. Users can set a value for the whole plant, and then set exceptions and increase or decrease the sensitivity for various items. It’s all based on usability and UX best practices.