Mediahuis Belgium connects internal teams for product development success

By Sarah Faict

Mediahuis Belgium

Antwerp, Belgium


By Stijn Vercamer

Mediahuis Belgium

Antwerp, Belgium


Media businesses now more than ever realise their digital growth runs parallel with their capacity to deliver high-end, qualitative digital products to their customers. News apps need to be able to compete with the social media apps for customers’ attention.

But how can you meet these demanding customer needs when product development and delivery goes (too) slow?

Mediahuis Belgium and the Technology and Product Studio of Mediahuis Group embarked on a journey together to identify existing pain points and design a new and better aligned business process to increase efficiency.

This is what the quarterly cycle high-level perspective looks like for Mediahuis Belgium and The Technology and Product Studio of the Mediahuis Group.
This is what the quarterly cycle high-level perspective looks like for Mediahuis Belgium and The Technology and Product Studio of the Mediahuis Group.


Soon after launching a bunch of service blueprint workshops and stakeholder/touchpoint analyses, we realised there was no one-size-fits all solution.

Both parties — Mediahuis Belgium and the Technology and Product Studio — had to make adjustments to their leadership structures and processes to meet the business challenges. As we needed to transform while continuing to perform, we started a trial and validation journey, which allowed us to learn and improve our process along the way.

What was very clear from the start is that we needed to work together. An important prerequisite for success was — and continues to be — the availability of change leads on both sides who weren’t afraid of a holistic perspective. In our digital ecosystem, everything is connected, so we need to be as well.


To stand a chance in this challenge, we needed to free what we then called “digital leads” from the burden to battle the “feature fight” for their respective news brand. (Mediahuis Belgium has four news brands: De Standaard, Het Nieuwsblad, Gazet van Antwerpen, and Het Belang van Limburg. When we started our transformation journey each newsroom had a digital strategist lead.)

When it comes to scalable product (platform) development, which our business architecture requires, we needed to cut the symbolic umbilical cord between each newsroom and the Technology and Product Studio.

From four digital leads (one for each newsroom), we moved to a team of three product managers, each with a distinctive product focus (such as app, Web site, newsletter, push, and editorial system). Next, with the product managers, we created “expert” roles that were fully aligned with Mediahuis Belgium’s business KPIs.

The product managers and expert roles now work together, side-by-side with the product owners at the Technology and Product Studio in a product-centric set-up.

In practice, this means we broke down the silos between newsroom, marketing, sales, and retention to have different perspectives on the product challenges we are facing. This internal collaboration enables a better, mutual understanding of the priorities in product development.

We now set priorities together instead of battling each other to become “first on the list.” In this way, we established a context that enhances product strategy and, more importantly, focus.

As far as our business process is concerned, we introduced a new quarterly cycle allowing us to predict outcomes better and create priority focus in the teams on both sides.

The latest adjustment we made in the process was working with objectives and key results (OKRs). The reason for doing this was that we needed to measure our progress more transparently and establish a framework within the broader organisation. The business objectives are now co-created with key stakeholders at the Technology and Product Studio so we can efficiently work together on shared and aligned objectives.

Current status

Are we there yet? No, but we see this as continuous journey.

We will continue to nurture a growth mindset on our teams in a context of improving together. It is our firm belief that, in this way, we will be able to tackle the challenges on our path to becoming better and faster.

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