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How Can We Get Marketing And Development To Play On The Same Team?

Pre-game Handshake -Marketing & R&D
Pre-game Handshake -Marketing & R&D
Pre-game Handshake -Marketing & R&D
Situation
A medium sized software company needed to improve the working relationship between its development and marketing groups.

Product delays, products that could not be sold, numerous changes in direction, technology looking for an application, confused customers and a frustrated sales force resulted from a basic lack of respect for one another.

Approach
We interviewed key players, reviewed historical documents and focused on the requirements gathering and processing approach used on new development projects. As is often the case the issues revolved around three missing ingredients:

  • Inconsistent Vision
  • Process Holes
  • Lack Of Customer Focus

A cross functional Product Vision Workshop was conducted to isolate differences of opinion concerning the company's product agenda among developers, marketers, product managers, customer service engineers and sales personnel through

Demilitarization
Soon opposing factions were capable of actually listening to one another. Our proprietary "vision convergence metric", established to monitor progress from the baseline level of vision disagreement, showed a 50% convergence in 6 weeks. More importantly a couple of stalled, tough strategic, and architectural choices were made.

Front End Process
Based on the measurable progress being made in defining the future direction of product development, a second team began building a front end process for selecting projects and managing requirements.

After reviewing the genesis of winning and losing products, the group began to categorize sources of good product ideas and requirements, organize the operational, administrative and technical characteristics of future products and established the front end process to be followed by each. For each project type methods for capturing the voice of the customer were agreed upon and formats for documenting a market centric product definition were described. Furthermore guidelines for how and when requirements could be changed throughout the product cycle were explored and a system for incorporating the impact of proposed changes on schedule, quality and cost were incorporated.

The Results
  • Improved cross functional decision making
  • Fewer arbitrated turf battles
  • Rapid adjustments to the product plan in areas of importance
  • Ability to consistently reject proposals that moved the product outside it's agreed upon future product boundaries
The "Vision" -- captured in a living document is now reviewed quarterly.

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