Discussion on product management issues like Product Road-maps, New Product Development, Front End Innovation, Competitive Analysis using various frameworks, Market Research and Product Positioning, Go-To-Market Strategy, Product Marketing, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and more...
A few days ago, I posted a blog on Stage-gate model that received
lot of comments for suitability of the model to use in today’s world where companies
are under pressure to roll-out new products in shortest possible time-frame and constrained budgets.
While Stage-gate model has proved to be successful and
highly evolved model with 70%-80% companies using it for new product
development, it has also been criticized for being too linear, rigid and planned
as well as being non-adaptive. Product Managers are looking for more agile,
flexible and dynamic processes that put something in front of the customers and
involve them in early stages of new product development. The idea is to get
something out to the customers in the form of “virtual product” or “crude
working model” that they can feel, use and respond to providing useful insights
for product under development. Thus, the product might be less than half defined
while entering development stage, but it evolves by adapting to new information
and moved through development and testing. This change to stage-gate model is
what people know as “Agile Product Management”.
AGILE PRODUCT MANAGEMENT is a product development approach that
adds to Stage-gate model and reduces development time by eliminating undesired
dependencies, incorporating customer involvement in early stages of the product
thereby reducing the chances of product failure at launch.
Agile Product Management
Agile Product Management allows early kick-off for the development
stage (Stage 3) of the NPD process once identification of the CVP (Customer
Value Proposition) is completed in scoping stage with the intention to develop something
that the customer can see and provide feedback. It does not require Product
Managers to finish writing down Product Requirement Document enlisting detailed
feature set or wait for other departments to finish on their tasks. Rather, it allows
them to efficiently manage cross-functional teams working in parallel on tasks
of their domain.
While rest of the cross-functional team works toward other activities
of “scoping” and “business case” stages (market sizing, P&L projection, GTM
plan and more), product manager creates the story-board and requirements for first
(maybe few more) sprint cycle for the product development. While technical team
completes initial sprints, the product requirements are completely identified; TG2
gate is qualified, and product comes to visible and usable form. At this
juncture, QA team is involved in testing the product and analyzes the
suitability with the original value proposition.
Once the product comes to a usable form after few cycles of QA
testing, customers are involved for early stage testing and feedback to ensure
adherence to market requirements. Please mind that these customers are not open-market
customers but the internal customers from cross-functional groups, other
employees in the organization, friends and family members.
It is very likely that the final product that is
launched to the market is very different from what was targeted at the
beginning of first sprint. It is primarily because, over the time, more
features are added; more changes are done as recommendation from the work of
cross-functional teams for “scoping” and “business case” stages are incorporated.
Some of the benefits of using Agile Product Development
Reduced time to market
Reduced uncertainty and chances of launch failure
Eliminate undesired dependencies among cross-functional
Early customer feedback
Deliver as fast as possible
Most efficient way to use Agile Product Development is to
customize the development and testing stage to progress in concurrence with “scoping”
and “business case” stage and best fit for the project goal. The sprints should
be planned to achieve maximum value from the product in early stages of
development. This will ensure delivering a stable and maintainable product that
satisfies your customer.