Three tips for prioritising product & technology for scale ups

You can’t eat ALL the menu in a restaurant. You need to choose, and so with choosing your product benefits / features and the technology choices.

Without prioritisation a business can be spread too thin

When there is so much to do as a business, how do you get your product and technology to prioritise on doing the right things. A couple of years back I was involved with a large digital transformation programme, and we were trying to embed steps to check that business value was being delivered and the business was ready to take on the new technology. The leadership saw these efforts as taking away money from functionality, so initially didn’t budget it. It was like designing a car, and not including a GPS nor headlights so that you could spend money on a faster engine.

Sadly, over time, and as happens so often they started driving as fast as they could in the dark – and the business wasn’t ready, nor did they have answers when leadership asked questions.

Prioritising product & technology with business goals is key

As a scale up you might have delegated the technology and product delivery to team members – so how do you know they are delivering value and ready to use the product. Without clear prioritisation,

  • it is easy for technology to march on the functionality it likes, and not relevant to the business,
  • the team can be spread too thin, and then nothing substantial gets done,
  • strong personalities get what they want, to the detriment of the whole business, or
  • too much choice can result in no choice, or analysis paralysis in the hope that more information alone will make the choice clear.

Three Prioritisation resources

There are many tools to help with prioritisation, and I wanted to share 3 of them:

1.    A Quick Business Checkpoint

A one-page summary of the business status. It helps you see the status across key capabilities in the business, and therefore decide what needs to be done address issues, now or later. This helps the business understand what the product and technology is doing to support the business, and what dependencies there are.

2. A clear Product & Technology Roadmap aligned to business goals

The quick business checkpoint helps see what needs to be done now and next; the roadmap connects the market, strategy and the rest of the system over time. For one client our main conversation about the roadmap was aligning the technology build to the annual buying cycle of the customer. We could see which features helped build customer awareness, which directly addressed pains, and which would keep their product ahead of the competition

3.  Use Key Objectives and Results

Once you have an idea for the roadmap, it’s worth summarising that back to what is the one key objective each quarter that will make a real impact and focus on this. This helps harness the team in one direction.

You can find more on this at https://objectives-key-results.com/

Prioritisation is also about changing behaviours

These tools are not the only ways of prioritisation, and during workshops, I will use a range of other facilitation tools or mechanisms to dependent on the people and situation. The lovely people at ‘Folding Burritos’ list a further 20 techniques for product prioritisation.

However, in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world, prioritisation is important in order to make progress. This mustn’t be set in its ways – an agile mindset and a scalable technology architecture, allows the business to flex against the market and take advantage when opportunity arises.

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