I gave a talk at the Product Professionals Event in Bangalore on Nov 12, 2011. Bangalore being home to many well-known high-tech companies with large engineering organizations, I decided to talk about what connects product strategy and architecture. These terms, product strategy and architecture, are dear at heart to every product manager and his or her engineering team.
Ideally, a highly collaborative relationship between these functions is critical to influence each other and drive both forward. However, no one said real life is always ideal. It throws up some interesting situations. Engineering organizations have “architecture requirements” or “platform work” that is necessary for the product, but has a longer horizon. Product management has “market requirements” and “customer requirements” that, comparatively, have a shorter horizon. And of course, Sales has the “deal of the quarter” requirements, if only our product could do this or that yesterday. So we end up spending a lot of time churning on requirements, and one important aspect gets missed, that of value. We exist to create value for our customers.
Therefore if we are to do a good job of analyzing the value our products provide, the questions to ask are: 1) What value do our customers expect us to deliver? How does that change based on the context of deployment? 2) What makes it difficult to fulfill these value expectations? 3) What forces could accelerate time-to-value?
This becomes a very useful analysis for product management and engineering teams to jointly engage in, as this can provide much better insight for a longer-term strategy and architecture to emerge, as compared to the focus on requirements alone. I also talked about how we can define the value of core technology components that are typically “unseen” by the customer. This formed a very important part of my most recent experience as VP of Product Management at McAfee having responsibility for a portfolio of core technologies that were used across many product lines.
It was an engaging discussion with the audience and I am thankful to Pinkesh Shah, CEO of Adaptive Marketing, for inviting me. My presentation is here.