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What Is the Product Roadmap?

What Is the Product Roadmap?
By Demian Entrekin

The roadmap is a process to create shared agreement on product development priorities.

Typical product roadmap characteristics:

  • The product manager should be able to clearly and accurately explain how the product roadmap supports the business plan, marketing plan,the product strategy and the product design.
  • Without a strong connection between the roadmap and these key plans and designs, the product development process becomes disconnected from the business and can be subject to the whims of personalities.

  • If the management team is struggling to make roadmap decisions, then the roadmap process must be changed.

  • The product roadmap shows the major market-facing commitments and usually includes two sub-roadmaps: a feature roadmap and a technology roadmap.

  • The product roadmap communicates the specific product development commitments that support the business plan, the marketing plan and the product strategy. The product design guides how the product works for the users.

Read the Complete Article

Key Success Factors: Who Needs Them?

Key Success Factors: Who Needs Them?
By Demian Entrekin

Most of us have heard the concept of Key Success Factors thrown around as if it were a clear and identifiable list of items, like a shopping list or a Christmas wish list. We believe that we can identify the Key Success Factors and use them to better understand what we need to do be successful. Right?

Some folks are so comfortable with this term that they jump straight to the KSF acronym. “What are the KSF’s for this project?” asks the project manager.

“The what?” some intrepid soul asks.

“The KSFs! You know – Key Success Factors!”

“Oh, right. I knew that. The Key Success Factors,” says intrepid.

But then the smart guy from the PMO speaks up. “Aren’t those captured in the methodology? Don’t we define the risks as the first phase of the project? If not, maybe we should just add a step to capture them.”

“Well,” the project manager considers, “there are some things we need to figure out before we even start the project in the first place. Read the Complete Article

Documents Are Worthless – Documentation Means Everything

Documents Are Worthless – Documentation Means Everything
By Demian Entrekin

Eisenhower once said something to the effect of “plans are worthless – planning means everything.” He carried more planning responsibility than most of us can imagine, so I’d guess that he didn’t mean this lightly.

I have come to believe there is a very strong corollary for documentation. I would say something like this: “documents are worthless – documentation means everything.”

What do I mean by this? I think that the process of creating the documents is much more valuable than the documents themselves. To be sure, the documents have value. They are useful as project history, design communication, product training, etc. But what we really want is product success.

What we don’t want is to hold each other slavishly to our documentation. Once we have ended up there, we are probably in serious trouble. We might even be talking to lawyers. Read the Complete Article

When NOT to Plan

When NOT to Plan
By Demian Entrekin

The assumptions around planning for technical projects keeps changing, especially when it comes to software projects. More and more the approach seems to be that we should just go build something, put it in the customers hands, and learn from what happens.

I’m a big fan of taking action. I think it’s crucial to get out there and do something and then adjust and learn and adjust and learn.

But in some cases, we still need to stop and think and ask ourselves what are we really trying to do here? There are times when the notion of “just get out there and do something” becomes an excuse for not thinking.

We still need to spend some upfront time on things like “who are our customers?” and “what problem are we trying to solve?”

And so now the question becomes “what is the right amount of planning and what is the right amount of action?”

I’m not sure that there is a formula for this. Read the Complete Article

Project Portfolio Management: How to Say Yes Without Digging a Hole

Project Portfolio Management: How to Say Yes Without Digging a Hole
By Demian Entrekin

When the stack of projects starts to grow on you, the good news is that you still have work to do. Think about it this way: when the list of projects starts to dwindle down toward zero, you might want to make sure you have a reason to show up next week.

On the other hand, when the list of projects grows beyond your ability to perform well, you have an altogether different problem. Perhaps you have a new compelling event that drives a whole slew of new projects. Perhaps a new business plan. Perhaps you have been acquired or you have acquired someone else.

This is where the discipline of prioritization starts to come to the rescue. How do we take on the right projects first? What are the right projects to take on first? How do we determine the right projects in the first place? Read the Complete Article

A Brief History of Project Portfolio Management

A Brief History of Project Portfolio Management
By Demian Entrekin

Change often starts from the outside. Sometimes the novice is the only one who can see the door. This idea could be applied directly to the creation of the Project Portfolio Management market and the disciplines that go with it.

PPM did not emerge from the PMI, nor did it originate from the entrenched Project Management vendors. It did not originate from Microsoft, nor did it spring from Primavera. These were the dominant Project Management vendors at the time, and they have had to play a significant game of catch-up, and some might say that they haven’t actually caught up.

There were many different factors impacting the rise of PPM. The internet bubble had burst in the beginning of the millineium, but connected web applications were here to stay. There was a huge focus on cost visibility. Portfolio theory had begun to cross-pollinate the PSA market. Read the Complete Article

What the First Conversation About a Project Should Really Be

What the First Conversation About a Project Should Really Be
By Demian Entrekin

There is one conversation I would like to change permanently. It’s the first conversation.

All too often the first conversation about a project revolves around the schedule or the budget or the resources. When do we need to finish this project? Who is available? How much money do we have to spend?

If I had a magic wand, I would change the first conversation to revolve around a totally different set of questions. Where did this project come from? What is the reason for this project? What are the business outcomes that this project will accomplish? Where does this project fit into our overall game plan? What do the customers want and how do we know? How does it help us with the Big Goals?

But here is the place I would most like to start: I would kick off every project meeting with the discussion around “if this project is successful, it will accomplish the following outcomes.”

And for the record, “on time, on budget” are not business outcomes. Read the Complete Article

Strategic Issues Management

Strategic Issues Management
By Demian Entrekin

Definition

A “strategic issue” is an issue in a project or initiative where key stakeholder expectations are substantially out of line with each other or with the stated key success factors of the project. A strategic issue should have enough importance that if it is not addressed, it will jeopardize the success of the project.

Purpose

The purpose of a formal Issues Management Process is to prevent major stakeholder gaps from impeding the progress of the project. The main idea is to close problematic gaps in perspective and to foster a creative, problem-solving attitude amongst all key participants.

Identifying Issues

Issues can originate with one or more key stakeholders. It is important to start with the source of the issue to validate that the issue exists and is accurately defined. If the issue does in fact exist, and it creates sufficient risk to stakeholder alignment, then the issue should be defined in a way that leads to an objective and productive analysis of the issue. Read the Complete Article

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Domains – Part II

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Domains – Part II (#2 in the series Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Domains)
By Demian Entrekin

Okay, so I’m digging in a bit deeper on the question of Supply/Demand issues, and some more questions are popping up. In fact, I may raise more questions than answers, but it’s a start. In the previous article, PPM Domains I described as follows:

Supply/Demand Management: In the past we have called this need ‘demand containment.’ In short, some organizations are struggling with modulating the constant flow of inbound demand on the portfolio and the resources. All project organizations struggle with this challenge, and IT departments in particular struggle with inbound demand because they have many other operational duties, such as systems management and application portfolio management. If a portfolio owner cannot effectively regulate the flow of inbound demand, the forward progress can become severely degraded by the day to day fire fighting otherwise known as supply/demand management. Read the Complete Article

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1 – A1 Enterprise 286 – Karl Fischer
2 – Aaron Sanders 287 – Kathlika Thomas
3 – Abdulla Alkuwaiti 288 – Katy Whitton
4 – Abhijat Saraswat 289 – Kay Wais
5 – Abhilash Gopi 290 – Kaz Young
6 – Adam Leggett 291 – Keith Custer
7 – Ade Miller 292 – Keith L.
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