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Product-centric funding

How to configure the software development funding process to incentivize measurable product outcomes

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Pinpoint priorities for investment

What any product organization quickly discovers is that scope creep is very real. Be it from the MVP, first versions, or version fifty…the backlog continues to expand, fueled by customers, internal users, product managers, competitors, and emerging technology capabilities. Unbridled product investment, on the other hand, can crush the usability and elegance of any product. The result often is a feature-saturated, expert-only product that requires months of training to use correctly and an exorbitant infrastructure to run. To avoid scope issues from escalating, start by establishing individual backlogs for each product investment themes around:

  • Feature roadmap which can be further broken down by industries, workflows, and component.

  • Product debt leveraging shortcuts taken in the past to release a feature.

  • Technical debt pulling from shortcuts taken in the past with architecture and performance.

  • Administrative roadmap for internal requirements to service the product.

Validate and prioritize

The initial step for the product team is to map all features on two axes: noting the business value on y, technical complexity on x. Next, take the prioritized stories and make sure they qualify to go into a specific release plan. In addition to the expected business value, a story should also be feasible and demonstrate technical readiness. Finally, use the data to prioritize product features.

User research, heuristics, usability tests, job shadowing, and user interviews should accompany qualitative and quantitative data to inform the product priorities as the team ships features on a sprint by sprint basis. A combination of these data points and techniques guarantee that maximum value gets generated from dollars spent.

portfolio priorities
  1. High business value, high complexity

    While the risk is higher, the items in this quadrant are often competitive differentiators. Consider prioritizing these stories by the outcomes set for the product.

  2. Low business value, high complexity

    These stories carry a significant amount of risk, yet offer very little payback. Consider workarounds or alternatives to shift the story out of this quadrant.

  3. High business value, low complexity

    This implementation effort has significant return, customer sentiment for a minimal investment, and low-level of risk.

  4. Low business value, low complexity

    These efforts may not even be worth pursuing. Discuss if there are good reasons for promoting or demoting these stories from the backlog. Use stories as training for team members being on-boarded.

Continue to:Conclusion: Delivering measurable results