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Archive for May, 2018

Productization

Something that I think about every day is how to make sure the team is building the right thing.  Particularly in a customer-driven environment.

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Now, the answer may seem obvious – just build the thing the customer is asking for.  Well, the problem here is that the customer rarely knows exactly what they want, and more importantly, you don’t want to waste development cycles building something that your other customers don’t want.

 

Taking a Lean approach, we first need to define the problem space in the broadest possible sense, and define solutions.  We then need to verify these solutions against the customers who have the problem, and the use cases that are being addressed.  This means that we have to expand on the specific customer request and see how it applies to the larger product definition and to the larger customer base.

Productization.png

The diagram above simplifies this process:

  1. Starting with specific customer requests, define the Feature Enhancements that satisfy the request
  2. Define the problem space your are addressing, then expand that out to cover the broadest possible product footprint
  3. Define additional requirements that address the problem space beyond the original customer request
  4. Up-level all requirements into a General Product Specification (design spec, implementation plan, PRD – whatever your team uses)
  5. Prioritize the features and enhancements based on the specification
  6. Build and release (Go Live, GTM, Marketing, Sales, Support, etc)

Remember – the original feature requests from the customer may not necessarily be the top priorities.  After considering the broader set of requirements, prioritize the work and deliveries based on the value they add for the broadest set of customers.  It is tempting to only build what the customer asks for and then come back later and build additional enhancements.  But this wastes valuable resources and development cycles.

Always focus on delivering the maximum value to the broadest set of customers.  Make sure you understand when a customer has real needs, and when they are in “it never hurts to ask” mode.  Then, understand what similar customers need even though they may not have even asked.

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