Monday, March 25, 2013

Enterprise MVP - Made in Captives and ODCs

The 5 steps listed below are from the session: Design MVPs (Minimum Viable Product) for Enterprise Customers by Owen Rogers from Pulse Energy. This talk was given at the Management track of the Agile India 2013 conference that was held in Bangalore, India on Feb 27, 2013 and Feb 28, 2013.

To build Enterprise MVP

Step 1: Start with fixed known constraints
Step 2: Defer commitment on everything else
Step 3: Leverage external products and services as much as possible
Step 4: Start simple and iterate quickly
Step 5: Tell a compelling story - user journey - focus on workflow not features

So can Agile teams in captive centers and in outsourced product development centers (ODCs) truly contribute to building MVPs?
For the large part, this ask may be a challenge since in captive centers the product manager is located onshore or in the parent company and in ODCs teams may be far removed from the real users of the solution when the real users are the customers of the client.

I recommend these three initiatives to enable Agile teams in captive centers and ODCs to contribute effectively to the whole process of building enterprise MVPs:
1. Build domain expertise
2. Create opportunities for customer contact
3. Have the product manager travel to the Agile team locations at significant milestones

Building domain expertise leads towards:
- building a knowledge base from which requirements can be validated
- ideating based on the knowledge gained about the painpoints and customer workflows
- increasing confidence in the solution
- actively contributing in the release planning phase

The organization should make allowance for teams to engage with customers face-to-face in user group meetings and product conferences. When the big picture of why they do what they do becomes clearer to teams I believe that Agile teams will be able to create realistic acceptance criteria,  simulate the right deployment environments, and identify customer candidates and/or scenarios for usability tests.

For every sprint 0, the Product manager can travel to the location of the Agile team which would help in:
- face-to-face communication which trumps the greatest advancement in telepresence
- providing an opportunity for Agile team members to directly contribute to the product backlog by making their suggestion, backed by research, to the Product manager
- optimizing the time taken for initial product backlog refinement
- building an Agile team that includes the Product Manager as the Product Owner

These recommendations are drawn from my experience as a Product Owner for Pivotal CRM at CDC Software (now Aptean).

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