Focus on Value: 4 Factors Every Team Should Consider

1By Ellen Gottesdiener and Mary Gorman

Most of our clients share the same goal: deliver value. Yet often we find that these same clients cannot define what value looks like for their companies, or determine how to use value to inform project decisions.

We’ve identified 4 key factors to help your team bring value into focus:

  • Involve the Right People
  • Define Value Transparently
  • Look Toward the Short Term
  • Have the Vision to Change

Involve the Right People

Defining a product’s desired result, before building it, is fundamental to that product’s success. To do this successfully, you need to identify all of the key stakeholders from the customer, business, and technology realms. These stakeholders need to work together, as collaborating product partners, to envision the product, define goals, and specify measurable objectives, thereby creating a high-level view of the desired product outcomes. Having these key markers will ensure that the team is always building the most valuable thing.

Define Value Transparently

In addition to the key markers, it is powerful to learn and share the partners’ value considerations. A value consideration is some variable (tangible or intangible) used when assessing the value of a product option.

For example, the customer partners who use or buy the product might value a safe-to-use product and or having a convenient-to-use product. Business partners, sponsors, product champion (aka “product owner”)—and those providing products, services, and expertise for your product—might be concerned about market positioning, revenue generation, or protecting the company’s reputation. The technology partners (those who build and support the product) might be focused on the feasibility and compatibility with existing and future architecture. Making all of these varied (and often competing) value considerations transparent is crucial for collaboratively making good decisions.

Together, the desired outcomes, value considerations, benefits, and risks make up the business value model for a product. The product partners use the value model during discovery and delivery to guide their decisions.


Balance the Short and Long Views

With the vision, goals, and objectives in sight, and a clear view of all the tangible and intangible value considerations, the product partners can select the best set of high-value product features (options) for the next planning horizon. They consider the costs, benefits, risks, dependencies, and value considerations of each option. They then adjust each option’s value up or down accordingly, always ensuring the option is aligned with the product’s vision, goals and objectives. Notice we say next delivery cycle. You still need the long view. Agile teams are sometimes short sighted and need the longer view that solid product management provides.

It’s More Than “One and Done”

Remember that discovering value isn’t a one-and-done activity. The product partners repeat the process at every planning horizon: the long-term (Big-View), the interim-term (Pre-View), and the short-term (Now-View). Throughout the product’s lifecycle, the partners stay alert to changes in market and competitive conditions, availability of resources, costs of delay, etc., and their potential impact on the product, modifying the business value model as needed.

After each delivery cycle, the partners determine if what was delivered actually realizes the anticipated value. This comparison may uncover gaps to be addressed in future releases. Though the Lean Startup movement has made this seem like a new concept, we’ve long had a name for it in requirements engineering: validation. In Discover to Deliver, we call it “confirm to learn.”

Ensure Value Visibility

Before value can inform decisions, it must be defined, visible, and well understood by all product partners. As we like to say: value is in the eyes of the beholder. So know your beholders!

When was the last time your team collaboratively discussed and purposefully validated your value assumptions? Take time in your next planning session to honestly and transparently define your product’s value, so that value truly becomes the basis for your product decisions.

Additional Reading:

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Value, Product Backlog, Product Management/Ownership
One Response to “Focus on Value: 4 Factors Every Team Should Consider”
  1. Sofia

    Among all these 4 factors,involving the right people plays a key role. with out perfect people team can not perform better.

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