Dynamic markets demand agile build of pursuit insights

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© Tweeter Linder 2016 – All rights reserved. Photo by iStock

Agile development for dynamic markets cannot use classic product management processes. The increase in pace combined with a lack of initial clarity drive the need for a complementing process. This post will give you a few perspectives on what to attack as you try to bridge between a dynamic market and an agile development team. The perhaps most exciting art of the new realities most businesses face.

A typical starting point

Large businesses have well defined processes for dealing with market requirements. A process designed for rational and fact based decisions. The actual requirements are clear and hand-shaked with clients. The business quantifications is manageable. An aggregation of global demand can serve as a basis for portfolio decisions.

The classic product management process supports stable businesses well. But need a complement as you pursue dynamic and innovative segments of a market.

When you face a dynamic business scenario you need an agile product management process.  To bridge between customers and development teams. Centered around minimum viable products first and then rapid incremental additions.

All input is not available at the start of an opportunity pursuit. You will start design based on vague requirements. You will work with clients who are exploring options rather than having all facts on the table. At the same tie you will be guiding an agile development team. To bridge the gap you need to rethink the product management process in your company.

There are a few anchor points to consider for how to redefine your agile product management flow

  • Prepare for running two processes in parallel, one for completely new type of pursuits and one for proven businesses.
  • Build the agile product management process as an outside-in process. Designed around your lead and launch customer targets.
  • Work with your sales teams and clients about hypothesis of the needs. Rather than blank sheets of paper.
  • Take on the role of making a lot of thinking on your own. Especially when innovating in new opportunity fields.
  • Expect to learn daily at the front, and aim for a fast propagation back to your development teams.

Many small insights build-up the big picture

The devil lives in the details when you explore new types of opportunities. Your high level strategy and direction is easy to articulate. Your success depend on your ability to capture details. Each client conversation become a mine of valuable insights. Client interactions will generate a mix of information and insights, where the latter is hard to screen out early.

The customer facing teams need to excel in listening and capturing details. Expect your clients to be the source for the bulk of the insights your agile development team need.

Clear structure for documentation of pursuit insights

Blank papers represent a poor structure for capturing insights. Once you have a proven process you look for  specific things at different stages of a launch customer pursuit. One of your biggest assets is the structure of templates you put in place to guide the search for insights. With a clear structure in place covering your team captures ~10 most important areas of insights.

Daily build of your pursuit picture

The next significant different is the need for a daily build of customer insights. You need to secure the capturing and articulation of insights move at the same pace as the development. Classic product management processes praise clarity and accuracy over speed of sharing. An agile product management process is at the other extreme. Share from start but big picture and details.

The perhaps hardest part is to move from a territory of firm customer requirements to a gray world.  Where you build up the big picture of the pursuit in steps.

Evolve your insight repository

The last bit you need to review are the tools you use. Classic tools are not well suited.  Dropping tools completely and adopting outlook as insight depository is even worse.

The perhaps most important guideline is to design for easy entry and easy access for all team members. All the way from the customer fronting team to the development team. Aspire to adopt tools for a digital process with zero manual hand-overs.

Questions for you and your team

  1. Which product management processes and structures do we have in place today – build from where you are.
  2. Is your legacy process defined for a software centric world – expect the software part of your business to define the required pace.
  3. Which changes towards an agile product management process have you already implemented – driven by the needs from your agile development.
  4. What does an optimized opportunity insight flow look like for your business – streamlined from launch client to development teams.
  5. Which proven templates can you start with – Kick start the process with templates proven to work in reality.
  6. Which new tools do you need to introduce to digitize the flow – agile product management process have clear tool dependencies
  7. Which pursuits do we apply the new process on – use the new process selectively for the new areas where it make a real difference.

Additional reading suggestions

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