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    How to Align Products to Business Strategy

    Written by:             Published on: Jul 15, 2021 12:00:00 AM

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    Every product that any organization creates and maintains must be aligned to its strategy. Products not aligned to business strategy run the risk of not getting adequate funding and hence premature decline. To ensure products are strategically aligned, the Product Owner and other key stakeholders must understand the following.

    • Organization Mission & Vision: The organization develops a vision aligned to its mission. Use Mission & Vision to drive strategic goals & objectives.
    • Strategic Objectives: Understand the organization's business strategy, which sets its path to achieve its mission and vision.
    • Business Strategy: Use the Business Strategy to execute work to meet goals.
    • Initiatives: Initiatives are longer-term work to meet aspects of the business strategy. (Seems like repeat info)

    Product Owners typically consider aspects in 3 horizons – At the enterprise level, called Strategy Horizon; at the initiative level, called Initiative Horizon; and at the Delivery Level, called Delivery Horizon.

    Strategy Horizon

    Questions to Ask

    • Is a business need worth satisfying?
    • Can the need be satisfied with the resources available?
    • Should an initiative be created?

    Decisions

    • Impact the entire organization.
    • Need to allocate resources.
    • Identify products, services, and initiatives.
    • Lookout 3 months to multiple years.

    Deliverables

    • Product vision
    • Product roadmap
    • Release plan

    Initiative Horizon

    Questions to Ask                 

    • What features should be delivered in what order?
    • Should the existing initiative be continued, changed, or canceled?
    • How does the organization support the product from its inception till retirement?

    Decisions

    • Impact goal, initiative, or the Delivery team
    • Focus on how to create value
    • Impact work products across initiatives
    • Look out for 1 to 3 months

    Deliverables

    • Release plan
    • Iteration plan

    Delivery Horizon

    Questions to Ask

    • What aspects of the features should be worked on, and in what order?
    • Is there enough to deliver?
    • How is the quality of the solution verified?

    Decisions

    • Focus on the delivery-related work.
    • Prioritize value being created.
    • Lookout 1 to 4 weeks.

    Deliverables

    • Daily Work plan
    • Product increments

    Strategic Product Owners play an active role in ensuring work across strategy, initiative, and delivery horizons remain aligned. Strategic Product Ownership connects the work of a team to the business strategy, providing the team with a sense of purpose and awareness of their contribution to achieving strategic business goals. Sharing information across feedback loops allows better decision-making to:

    • Understand the organizational strategy.
    • Encourage organizational leaders to discuss and align, from strategy to initiatives, the delivery teams' work.
    • Be aware of all initiatives and how they may be related.
    • Secure funding for changes where they align with strategic objectives.
    • Understand how the product is being built is an important component of the initiative.
    • Understand the value of feedback loops.
    • Use feedback at the product build level as critical information for those managing work at an initiative level.
    • Drive the discussion and ask for information from those managing work at the initiative level.
    • Be responsive to changes and adapt the build activities.

    Techniques for Alignment

    • Kano Analysis
    • Portfolio Kanban
    • Purpose Alignment Model
    • Value Stream Mapping
    • Business Case
    • Metrics and KPIs
    • SWOT Analysis

    This blog is primarily based on inputs from Certified Product Owner Analyst from IIBA, Canada.

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