A Xoomworks Technology eBook
6 ways to promote value creation in product delivery
With 25 years of tech experience and a passion for service improvement and customer excellence, Philip Young, Senior Director of Delivery & Services at Xoomworks, part of Accenture, explains why some companies are more successful than others at creating value during product delivery and the impact that can have on teams.
The ability to unlock value at the delivery stage depends mainly on the type, the size of the business, and the approach taken. Of course, a team may simply lack the right skills or capabilities. However, we mainly see problems originating from those systems and environments where the team lacks an effective process or where the business isn’t mature enough in its approach. This is particularly true of organisations on a digital transformation journey, where they’re still dealing with legacy ways of working.
Culture, mindset, and good governance all impact product maturity. Sometimes you need to change that culture and mindset and adopt a different way of thinking, a new approach. Setting the right mindset must come from the top; that takes good leadership and support.
In my experience, most issues stem from within the operational environment. When the team is busy working to deliver to a deadline, problems can often be hard to see and even harder to act on.
Here’s what works.
#1 Set the environment for success
We live in such a fast-paced world and are under pressure to deliver successful products quickly and on budget. Leaders must ensure that people have the right environment, tools, and processes to succeed. That’s the key to delivering on time and on budget, with all the features needed to make the product successful. We’ve seen many products that are overdue or where the budget is overspent because leaders don’t identify and act on issues early enough to keep the product on track. The key is ensuring each team member has what they need and creating the right environment for them to succeed.
Businesses talk about being agile. It’s a word many people use and can have many meanings! Being too process-heavy is a major blocker; there are still too many businesses with too many hoops to jump through, holding their teams up and preventing them from moving forward, particularly in fast-changing or uncertain environments.
It’s not about just talking agile – but understanding what works. For example, applying scrum with agile delivery methodologies to help accelerate delivery and create value can feel like speaking a different language, especially when you are used to a more traditional approach.
In an agile environment, transparency and communication must be a part of your structure and business culture. 95% of most information, in most businesses, at various levels, can be shared. It’s about having suitable mechanisms and tools to ensure that that information is filtering through the entire organisation as needed. That’s not always easy, especially as we’re all so busy moving from one thing to the next.
Ultimately, you want everybody to be on board and part of the journey with a clear picture of where they are headed.
#2 Recognise early on when something needs to be changed
If you’re struggling to deliver, ultimately, you need to make a change for something different to happen. As the saying goes, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got!
We need the right culture and review mechanisms across the entire team, the tools, the systems, and the processes. It’s not always initially obvious what the cause of an actual issue is; you could be trying to fix a symptom, not the actual cause. Open, effective communication is key to identifying the real issue.
Another challenge comes with a change in direction. We need to convey a clear reason behind the change, ensuring we have clear customer value in everything we do and that it is communicated effectively to the team.
Otherwise, you end up where everyone’s on board at the start of the journey, and when things change (and they do change because that’s the nature of technology in business – and we’ve all been there), you tend to end up with a more commercially focused output rather than the original client-focused business outcome.
#3 Use feedback to gain visibility
It’s vital to keep assessing at regular intervals. Be prepared to tweak or adapt as necessary. Don’t be afraid to make that change or to try something different to try and get it right. The longer you wait, the more it costs and the less chance of success.
You will know that you have the right environment in place when you not only deliver fast – but fail fast too. Understand where you’re going wrong, whether you’re failing or succeeding. There’s a valuable lesson in both. It may feel counter-intuitive, but you still create value when you fail as you take what you learn from it and quickly realise what you can or can’t keep doing. Doing that with a very quick turnaround at the end of each sprint allows you to deliver something of value.
It may not always seem like it; there may not be something you can use at the end of each sprint. As long as you’re doing your review and ensuring you understand the value creativity point, that’s where you start to find the benefits. Having that mindset of realising that what we’re doing is intentional creates advantage.
#4 Insist on transparency and openness
Xoomworks Technology has developed a simple yet highly effective way of working: the OneTeam approach™. Our goal is to be open and transparent as a team and not afraid to challenge a client partner. Sometimes the client organisation will have its own struggles with communication, openness, and transparency. We bring that with us into the partnership because we know from experience the value it delivers.
Having the right people on the team is vital too. We proactively encourage the right attitude, allowing people to be open and challenge the status quo without fear of repercussion. Xoomworks Technology, part of Accenture, partners with many clients across many industries and has decades of experience delivering digital products alongside our clients.
By providing those integrated teams seamlessly with our OneTeam approach™, we can help the client at every stage of their digital product journey: from ideation, proof of concept and MPV to end support. We always try to hold difficult conversations as early as possible. It’s easier than having to deal with it later down the line.
#5 Be disciplined and listen to the data
Data is critical for driving a greater understanding of what you want to do with your product, what you want to build, and how you want to move forward. However, you can’t just get data and check it off your to-do list. You need continuous analysis to understand the direction your customers are taking.
You’ve got to constantly collect that feedback through data on how users engage with the product. Be prepared to accept that the initial idea and the structure you had in place at the very beginning could shift radically if the data you receive tells you to take the product in a completely new direction.
Businesses are increasing their investment in data analytics and data scientists to get the most out of that product. We have seen scenarios where the product founders and even the investors got it right at the time, but just 6-12 months later, the data is suddenly telling them to go in a different direction. If you don’t listen, you end up releasing a product that falls flat.
#6 Shift to team skills not roles
There are three main benefits to working in cross-functional teams:
- Higher output productivity
- Teams run faster
- Teams are a lot healthier!
Typically, organisations build teams like they would a shopping list: three of those and two of these. That works as long as you have all those roles available at the same time and all working together. If you have a cross-skilled team that knows how to support each other, the train does not stop moving. Quality people continue to deliver, and that’s really crucial.
Depending on the size of the team and what you’re trying to do, you need that specialist skill set in some areas because you need that level of knowledge. But the reality is you don’t need that in every single role. You can have people with different levels of ability who can learn from others. Not everyone on the team needs to have senior-level experience or be a superstar. A team of superstars doesn’t necessarily outplay a team that works together and supports each other!
While we work with some incredibly talented individuals, success today – specifically value creation – is all about collaboration and co-creation, challenging each other in a healthy way to get the best out of people. There is no room for egos.
Cross-functional teams are a great way forward. In our cross-functional teams, everyone has their core skill set, yet they’re able to support each other. It means that people are learning new skills to help them to support the wider output and outcome. The result is healthier, happier teams that ultimately stay together and build better products.