The relationship between product management and product development usually gets heated when negotiating product scope.  Product mangers feel like they’re never getting enough and developers feel like they’re being asked to do too much.  Both sides have a legitimate beef.  A simple change in the approach will improve the relationship and result in more valuable solutions for the customer.

Create a Service Provider – Client Relationship

Just because both parties work for the same organization doesn’t mean the relationship should be casual!  A formalized service provider-client relationship between product management and product development improves the results on all fronts.

Solve Business Problems Together

Instead of starting the scope decision process with a list of features, product management should go to their internal “technology provider” with clearly defined business objectives and key scenarios that have the biggest impact on those objectives.  For example:

“Online sales via mobile devices are growing rapidly and retailers are struggling to differentiate and build stronger customer loyalty.  Our goal is to help them create a unique mobile shopping experience that’s more like a personalized in-store experience.  Here are the top five scenarios that would be most valuable to a retailer…

Product development should make a proposal to their internal “client” on a set of capabilities that would best address the top five scenarios. Technical people are great problem solvers and it’s a worthwhile exercise to see how designers and developers will solve business needs compared to product managers. The ultimate goal is the best business solution.

The stage is set to begin constructive scope discussions!

Two of the biggest hurdles to constructive scope decisions are the absence of business context relative to the goals of the target-customer organization and the lack of a more formalized service provider-client relationship between product management and development.  Both are easy to fix. Customers get better solutions and your organization delivers greater value.

 

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