Posts Tagged ‘product management’

Is my Prince now a frog?

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February 26, 2014 · by Ray · Project Management

frog-prince2v2Is PRINCE2 still relevant in an agile world? Or like in the fairy-tale, has it lost its relevance and changed into a frog? Well, no… it is still very relevant for two reasons:

  • Certain projects do not require an agile approach
  • Certain projects prefer a blended (waterfall and agile) approach. It was seen in my last post that the term Water-Scrum-Fall has been termed to indicate that the market currently seems to prefer ( or pragmatically accept) such a blended approach.

PRINCE2 is not the only option when considering a traditional methodology but it is a popular one and one that blends in well with new Agile project methodologies such as the Agile project management framework  which is derived from DSDM.

PRINCE2 Structured Project Management

PRINCE2 is a formal, structured approach to project management. It recognises that there are three major levels of activities:

  • Direction (Management Sponsorhip)
  • Management (Project management)
  • Delivery (Solution development and delivery)

The major focus of PRINCE 2 is in management and direction. Delivery it treats as a black box because it may be internal or external. Prince2 does not dictate how delivery is  done but it does state the expected communication and deliverables.

A PRINCE2 project looks like the following:

Prince2-Process-Trans

In fact, the 2009 revision to PRINCE2 reiterated its underlying simplicity by recognising explicitly seven principles:

  • There is continued business justification for a project (or you should stop!).
  • There are defined roles & responsibilities (everyone knows what they should – and should not – be doing).
  • Manage projects by stages (bite-sized chunks are easier to track).
  • Manage by exception (don’t micromanage or meddle when things are going fine).
  • Focus on products when you plan (think things you can measure and tick off a list, not open-ended tasks).
  • Tailor the process to a project’s size, complexity etc.
  • Learn from experience! If that didn’t work last time, change it!

It doesn’t say anything about how you should build your products.The only things PRINCE2 says about making things is the following:

  • focus on products when you plan;
  • break down complicated products into smaller ones, until each unit needs around 5-10 days’ effort to build;
  • factor quality procedures into your building process;
  • have a mechanism to hand a product-to-be-built over to the technical team – a spec of some kind (PRINCE2 calls this a “workpackage”) – and a way to sign off built products that come back.

PRINCE2 and Agile as a Blended Approach

PRINCE2 can be used to manage the project and Agile  methods can be used to deliver the solution. The two methods are entirely complementary; they touch only in the definition of what constitutes a “workpackage” – and they even agree on how big that should be!

Project-Mgt-Frameworks3

 

A paper on integrating  DSDM and PRINCE2 is on the DSDM website. Another option is to use PRINCE2 for direction and use an agile Project management methodology  and solution delivery. Agile Project Management is an initiative which extracts the Project Management elements of DSDM Atern and makes them available as Agile Project Management – a certified approach in its own right. This can then be combined with popular Agile solution delivery approaches such as Scrum and XP. This is detailed in this Agile Proect Framework for Scrum document.

What about “Just Agile please”?

In some cases the requirement may be to go completely Agile. This is possible as long as the direction provided is agreed and sufficient for the company leaderhip.  Agile Project Management derived from DSDM (Shown in next 2 diagrams) or Disciplined Agile Delivery  (Shown in bottom diagram )may be used.

DSDM-Artefacts

 

Journey-so-far,-1-project-f

 

disciplined-agile-delivery

Can an elephant be agile?

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February 26, 2014 · by Ray · Business Solutions, Project Management

Who says you can’t be big and agile?

agile elephantLou Gerstner of IBM famously said “who says elephants can’t dance?”  Can big organisations act in an agile way? Do they have to throw everything (traditional methodologies) out and start again?  To be agile do you have to go completely Agile and use all Agile methodologies.? Most companies according to research seem to be adopting a hybrid approach. The term Water-Scrum-Fall has been coined by Forrester to describe waterfall processes at beginning and end and Agile (Scrum) in the middle.  It recognizes how many firms blend an approach of writing most requirements up front, using time-boxed sprints to code, and then falling back on traditional big-bang deployments.  Sure there are some companies that are fully agile and Agile but there are some that are fully waterfall but can still adapt sufficiently to their environment. Why? Because they have different problems to solve.

Different customers  require different approaches

Agile methodologies tend to be better in smaller and innovative environments. Waterfall are still best for very large scale project coordination and where features must be delivered at a certain time e.g a datacentre move.

  • Management need a business case. A new product development  requires investment and a return on that investment within a specific time. Management require a business case and a plan and a commitment to deliver. Sufficient planning and detail is required on what will be delivered and when.
  • Operations require predictability. They require new features at a specific time in a way that can be launched without causing outages, or downtime on critical services.
  • Complex projects need co-ordination and formal communication. In complex projects with multiple teams they will be dependent on each other to deliver specif items with specific features at a specific time.
  • Customers have their own preferences. They may or may have the time to be giving constant feedback
  • Are the requirements stable and known, or unstable and unknown?
  • Do critical and expensive resources require to be scheduled?
  • Development teams can only predict so much. The only risk free prediction is when it is delivered. Documenting the future may kill the future.

There is no one size fits all. The trick is to apply the right approach in context, according to the needs of business leaders and recognizing the pace that the organization can successfully absorb new ideas and new methods and if they are right for the problem in hand.

But approach is only a part of a successful solution

Regardless of approach the following parameters will have a large impact on the success or failure of a project.  If there is no management sponsorship then a major project will fail. If the business objectives are not clear then it will fail. The amount of information available upfront may dictate approach. Little information upfront may dictate  an agile approach…but it will probably also mean that only a little money is approved and that approval will be required after every increment. A company that is dominating its market and is deciding to spend some of its cash pile on entering a new market is in a much different position than a company that is a follower in the market and is trying to deliver a large customer contract.

It is more important to be agile than to be religious about Agile methodologies.

Parameters For Success
Market Position & Maturity Product Organisation Culture
Acceptability of Change Management Sponsorship Clear Business Objectives
Strong Customer Involvement Optimal Project Complexity Optimal Project Size
Team Skills Team Emotional Maturity Project Management Expertise
Tools & Infrastructure Information availability

 

Parameters derived from my own research and experience. Used the Chaos Manifesto 2013 for some input. (There are questions over the details of their research but some of the macro stuff seems ok)

Product Management vs Product Marketing Activities

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February 22, 2014 · by Ray · Business Solutions, Marketing, Sales Model

Titles really are a mess. What one company calls a product manager, another calls a product marketing manager. It is best to be aware of this and to focus on the activities required. Also where these people do not exist in an organisation other departments fill the void. So the activities may be performed (poorly) by technical, sales, operations or marketing communications.

Typically the title “product manager” is used to signify people who listen to the market and articulate the market problems in the form of requirements. And the title “product marketing manager” is usually assigned to those who take the resulting product to the market by defining a product marketing strategy.

In Crossing the Chasm, Geoff Moore defines (and recommends) two separate positions:

A Product Manager (PM) listens to the market

PM“A product manager is a member of either the marketing organization or the development organization who is responsible for ensuring that a product gets created, tested, and shipped on schedule and meets specifications. It is a highly internally focused job, bridging the marketing and development organizations, and requiring a high degree of technical competence and project management experience.”

 

A Product Marketing Manager (PMM) talks to the market

PMM“A product marketing manager is always a member of the marketing organization, never of the development group, and is responsible for bringing the product to the marketplace and to the distribution organization… it is a highly externally focused job.”

 

In reality, there is a blurring of activities and the captions used (talking and listening) are used for simplicity, clarity and guidance rather than laws. The activities performed by the roles are as follows:

Product Management Activities

  • Define Market Opportunity,
  • Define User Personas for individual products.
  • Create Product Requirements & Use Scenarios,
  • Analyse Competitive Landscape,
  • Define Product Differentiation & Position Product,
  • Create Business Case, Acquire Funding,
  • Create Product Roadmap, Develop Product,
  • Launch Product, Manage Product Lifecycle.

Product Marketing Management Activities

  • Articulate Product Objectives,
  • Articulate Product detail ( differentiation, positioning, applications, pricing and USP), Understand Market (needs, problems,& segmentation, priority, size, customer profiles and purchase processes),
  • Understand Competition,
  • Build Go to Market plan ( value proposition, sales process, select/create sales channels and objectives, message map, demand generation strategy, promotion strategy, sales guide, sales support & collateral, sales training, pipeline management, metrics, systems, budget, schedule),
  • Execute Plan ( launch event, launch team).
  • Conduct Win/Loss analysis.

 Director, Product Strategy Activities

In organisations where a Director, Product Strategy exists then they may take on more of  the strategic and less tactical activities.

  • Discover and validate market problems (both existing and future customers)
  • Seek new market opportunities by leveraging the company’s distinctive competence
  • Define and size market segments
  • Conduct win/loss analysis
  • Determine the optimum distribution strategy
  • Provide oversight of strategy, technical, and marketing aspects of all products in the portfolio
  • Analyze product profitability and sales success
  • Create and maintain the business plan including pricing
  • Determine buy/build/partner decisions
  • Position the product for all markets and all buyer types
  • Document the typical buying process
  • Approve final marketing and go-to-market plans

Sales Problems may point to poor Product Management & Product Marketing

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February 21, 2014 · by Ray · Business Solutions, High Performance Sales Team, Marketing

Sales problems are very visible.

 

Targets are not met. Customers are not acquired. Pipelines are not healthy. Forecasts are not met.

Often the immediate reaction is to blame the sales personnel. Typical questions are: Are they working hard enough. Are they working smart enough? Do they  have the right relationships. Are they looking in the wrong places. Do they understand customer problems?  Do they understand the product value? Can they present the value of the product effectively?

Diagnose, Create & Deliver

Diagnose, Create, Deliver

While sales personnel can always up their game, in many cases the root problems can be elsewhere. If Product Management and Product Marketing processes been ignored, or not done correctly then the following problems may be diagnosed

 

Diagnosis

  • Do product differentiators exist and are they understood?
  • Is product positioning clear and understood?
  • Have the correct target market segments been identified?
  • Is the product fully developed and bug free?
  • Does the product provide the whole solution for the customer or are partner products required?
  • Is the product perceived as too expensive?
  • Is the value of the product understood and presented well enough?
  • Are the value messages available for all of the key players in the customer organisation?
  • Do suitable message vehicles exist? Do sales tools exist?
  • Are there reference customers available that are acceptable to target customers?

Create & Deliver Solution

A solution must then be created and delivered. Depending on the organisation this may be done by Product Management and Product Marketing.

Product management is inward focussed and product marketing is outward focussed.

  • Utilise Differentiators – Articulate product differentiators, and combine with customer profiling and competitive analysis to position products correctly and to drive messaging.
  • Prioritise Target Customers – Utilise market analysis and product positioning to prioritise demand generation and sales activities
  • Finalise Development – Create project plan and obtain high level management sponsorship  to finalise development.
  • Create Whole Solution – The construction of the solution may be done directly or via a third party such as an integrator. In Early markets the customer will normally provide this function either directly or via a third party.
  • Execute Pricing Review – Ensure that value is demonstrated clearly by better presentation or if required a pricing reduction or re-organization.
  • Create Better Value Presentation – Include all the value elements and simplify presentation in line with the customer financial modelling. Include as a standard sales tool.
  • Acquire Reference Customers – Provide sufficient support to sales personnel to target and acquire reference customers.

Project management methodologies and tools can be used  as appropriate to deliver solutions efficiently and effectively.

Achieving Business Growth

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Diagnose Challenges, Create Solutions & Deliver Results

Challenge

The overriding challenge in sales and marketing is “To deliver business growth”.

How to Address

Take the right approach.No one size fits all. So to be most efficient and effective it is best to:

  • Diagnose Challenge,
  • Create Solution & then
  • Deliver Results.

The challenges will fall into two broad categories

  • Enter new markets or
  • Develop existing ones.

Diagnose Challenge

The main ingredients of success are:

  • Strategy,
  • Sales team (& infrastructure),
  • Customer acquisition( tailored sales process, product value, & customer references)
Which of these ingredients are in place? If they are in place are they fit for purpose and achieving acceptable performance?

Create Solution

Following the diagnosis of the challenges a bespoke solution may be created.

Create/Develop Strategy

Planning means that subsequent action will effective and efficient.

  • Create customer profile,
  • Value proposition,
  • Go to Market strategy,
  • Sales process,
  • Sales team,
  • Targets.

Create/Develop Sales Team

This includes Leadership, Scalable Sales Model and Hiring the best people.

Leadership means that the team energised, have clear objectives, are fully engaged and deliver the required targets wit the required cost. The team is supported by a  scalable sales model which includes:

  • Sales Process based on Customer Buying Process
  • Sales Management System to to deliver forecasts and processes for coaching and performance management
  • Sales Automation that improves the efficiency of communication, customer database and reporting.
  • Marketing Integration for lead generation, sales tools,  messaging and effective market coverage.

Hire the best people. Utilise a clear and professional process to identify and develop people with high potential.

Begin/Develop Customer Acquisition

Customer Acquisition is vital for revenue Growth and the creation of references to enable later customers to be acquired more efficiently. Both are key attributes of business growth.

First ensure product delivers compelling value. as perceived by the customers. Then create or develop references.
To win major breakthrough accounts will require the creation of a tailored sales process based on the customers buying process. This will help harness the resources of the company effectively, manage communication and monitor progress.

Deliver Results

Results will be best delivered by effective leadership and professional project management.Leadership ensures that clear objectives are set and resources to deliver such objectives are secured.Then the team to deliver the results is engaged such that they are fully committed to deliver superb results.Finally the results are delivered with progress monitored and reported on at regular intervals to keep stakeholders informed.

3 Step Plan to Deliver Business Growth

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October 4, 2011 · by Ray · Business Solutions
What are the steps required to deliver business growth?
Business Growth may be delivered using a three stage approach:
  • Step 1: Diagnosis – What are the Business Challenges? What are the growth objectives? What is the current sales and marketing infrastructure and what needs to be provided?
  • Step 2: Design –  How can Business Growth be achieved?  Design the Solution
  • Step 3: Implement & Report.

Step 1: Diagnosis

“Diagnose before you Prescribe”. Covey.

Diagnose Business Challenges to create Solution

If the diagnosis is not correct then the solution may well be inappropriate or incorrect.

What are  the Business Challenges?

  • What are the Growth Objectives and supporting Business Plan?
  • Is New Market Entry required –
    • Early (New Products to Market),
    • Mainstream (Moving from Early Adopters/Innovators into broader Mainstream market or
    • Geographic?
  • Is Development of Existing Market required?
    • Does a Business Development/Improvement Plan exist?
  • Does an acceptable  Sales Strategy exist?
  • Does a Sales Team exist that is fit for purpose?
    • Create, develop or radically improve?
    • Is the sales infrastructure sufficient (Hiring Process, Reward System, Sales Process,Sales Management System & Sales Automation system)?
    • Is Marketing Support sufficient and integrated with sales (Sales Tools, Sales Training, Lead Generation, Market Coverage)?
  • What Major Accounts are required?
    • Do references exist?
    • Is there sufficient support infrastructure (Tailored Sales Process)?

Step 2: Solution Design

Having diagnosed and agreed the Business Challenges in detail, the Solution may now be designed. Depending on the Business Challenges the Solution will include some or all of the modules.

Choose Solution to fit Challenge

 

A full Market Entry solution will require all three solutions:
  • Create Strategy
  • Create New Sales Team
  • Win New Major Accounts
In some situations a suitable Strategy will exist but help is required to execute it. This will require:-
  • Create New Sales Team
  • Win New Major Accounts
In other cases an acceptable Sales Strategy and Sales Team exists but need to implement a Major Account sales process and to create positive references. In this case only one solution (Major Accounts) is required.
In other cases all the solutions are in place but are not fit for purpose or are not functioning correctly. In this case all elements mus be diagnosed and, if faulty, remedied. In addition the product must be diagnosed to ensure that expected value is being presented and delivered and that positive references are being created.

Sales & Marketing Strategy. This is designed to deliver Business Growth and other Objectives

Sales (& Marketing) Strategy

Use information on  customer profile, geographic profile,  product maturity, the competition and the strength of the vendor to shape the strategy. Develop Value Propositions as required to suit the particular product and customer profile.


A High Performance Sales Team Plan

Create a High Performance Sales & Marketing Team

A High Performance  Sales Team  will achieve effectiveness and efficiency. It  will strive for best in class Personnel Hire, Reward System, Sales Process, Sales Management System, Sales Automation System & Marketing Integration.
Marketing plan will include Lead Generation, Messaging Strategy and Sales Tools using Online and Offline techniques.

 

Win Major Accounts Plan

Win Breakthrough Major Accounts

Winning New Major Accounts will facilitate entry and growth within a target market segment. It requires a tailored sales process, A Value Proposition based on differentiators, positive references and detailed plans at account and opportunity level.

Step 3: Implementation

The solution may now be implemented. Project Management tools are used to measure progress and report on success.
Depending on the Business Challenges, some or all of the following market specific hurdles may need to be overcome:
  • Limited Resources
  • Immature Infrastructure
  • Customer Expectations too high
  • Product Development Required
  • Solution Development Required
  • Partner Management Required