How to deliver the highest value possible? How to create a product that is loved by users? These questions are some of my biggest concerns during my work as a Scrum Master at Setapp.
I want to find the answers to these questions, as I’m working with a team of experts, who are doing much more than just turning requirements into working solutions.
Our team’s ambition is to create valuable products. I know that it sounds obvious - most of the teams claim the same thing. But in real life, way too many projects don't bring smiles on the faces of either the development team or end users.
Why so often people are disappointed and feel that something went wrong with a project? Unfortunately, this situation happens more often than we might think. According to The Standish Group Report CHAOS:
- 31.1% of projects failed,
- 52.7% have incurred cost overruns, overtime or their features had to be limited,
- only 16.2% were successful. 1 in 6!
That’s why I would like to show you how to come out on top of those negative trends by defining the product value triangle. This triangle includes 3 crucial components: Involvement, Team and Culture. Let’s jump right into it!
Involvement of people
During the product creation process, people are its most crucial part. Users, potential users, clients, suppliers, consultants - their opinions always need to be taken into consideration when trying to deliver something valuable.
The crucial moment for any project is when clients and developers are validating the business idea together. They should not focus on a struggle between ‘what I want’ and ‘what we can deliver’. As a group of people driven by the same goal, they should rather talk about what they would like to create and what value it will bring.
But sometimes getting a client and development team together is not enough.
Unfortunately, many times I’ve seen a situation when a client feels like he knows better what are his employees’ (or end-users) needs, or a developer immediately feels like he knows what to do just because he has done a seemingly similar project before. You can easily guess that the results of such an approach won’t be satisfying, to say the least.
And when such a thing happens and after all the hard work done by the whole team, users don’t want to use the new solution - you realize that something went wrong. It then becomes clearly obvious that you cannot depend only on intuition or ‘I know better’ approach.
It is a must to include hard and verified data into your action plan - as well as trying to put yourself in real users’ place. Only this approach brings you closer to creating the most valuable product.
Product creation is not only about crystallizing the ‘requirements’ and creating the product; it is also about maximizing its value. To achieve this you go through workshops, hundreds of messages, face-to-face conversations, as well as regular verification of assumptions made at the beginning of the project.
All of these activities have one thing in common: the engagement and cooperation of all parts of the project involved, on many possible levels.
A clarified vision of the product, well described main goals and key users, as well as the most common issues faced by users, are the crucial information for my team. The team which uses this kind of input is well prepared to create a valuable product.
To achieve the goal of the project, our client needs to become more than just a partner to us - he has to become a real team member. The team member that understands the way we work and has trust in our skills and approach.
For me, a team is not only a group of people working together. What makes a team are people with the same goal, who work in a transparent way. The team, not individual members, takes responsibility together for all the outcomes.
And one common myth about group responsibility I want to bust is that in such a team no one is truly responsible for anything. The fact is, team responsibility means that all members are responsible equally and they should push each other towards achieving their common goal.
Building such a team is not an easy process, it’s also definitely not a ‘one-time action’. It’s a process that takes a while and any changes might have a big impact on it.
For a more comprehensive understanding, from my perspective, it is important to know that most teams go through all steps of development (Tuckman's stages of group development) and it has a major impact on their work.
Culture and Environment
Product users and a development team have to be always placed in an appropriate environment, which supports their way of working. Even the best team doesn’t work in isolation from external pressures and conditions. Managers and companies have to create an environment that supports self-organization and autonomy of the team.
Sometimes small changes, such as putting all the team members in one (big enough) space or small integration event at the beginning of the project can improve communication in a way that no one has expected.
One of the crucial ways of reducing misunderstandings and time spent on gathering requirements is to engage the development team from the very beginning of the project. Some companies still think that it’s too expensive but the benefits from such an approach are larger than the costs so we should treat it as an investment.
Direct cooperation between a customer and a supplier needs an appropriate framework. This should be reflected in a formal agreement between both sides. We should not focus on the specific things we want to deliver but rather on what we want to achieve and how we want to do it.
It’s also always good to remember that the world changes very fast - that’s why we should have the necessary tools to react fast enough, while not unnecessarily rising costs. But this is another story, worthy of a separate article.
From my perspective, if we want to minimize the risk of creating bad (or at least not good enough) products for our clients, we have to focus on these three main components: involvement, team and culture. So the conclusion is pretty simple: if you take proper care of the people, they will take care of the product accordingly.