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    May 17, 2021

    How Do I Add Digital Product Management to My Value Stream Management?

    by: Brian Nathanson

    When it comes to prioritizing tech initiatives, more than half of companies worldwide – 54 percent – say they’re prioritizing digital transformation. Let’s look at the types of companies that benefit the most from Digital Product Management (DPM) and the steps they have taken to augment their Value Stream Management with DPM.

    What Companies Should Consider DPM?

    DPM is a principled approach to making technology investments. It allows organizations to prioritize their most-valuable investments and prove the ROI to the business. As such, DPM is beneficial for any company that invests heavily in technology. This doesn’t mean that a company’s products or services need to be high-tech. Indeed, banks, investment firms and government organizations have some of the heaviest investments in technology but aren’t necessarily considered high-tech companies.

    DPM is becoming a significant part of every business – from the smallest mom-and-pop shop to the largest corporations in the world – because every company now must wrestle with digital offerings and the ability to interact digitally. Furthermore, companies of any size can benefit from DPM. In most cases, it works best for companies that have more than one product or service. Likewise, companies that don’t traditionally deal with software as a primary focus of their business benefit tremendously from adding DPM to their Value Stream Management.

    Steps To Begin the Journey

    It’s also important to understand that using DPM is not difficult from a technical perspective. The most challenging part of DPM is navigating the culture change that’s required for people to stop thinking in terms of projects and, instead, think in terms of products.

    Product management is an actual discipline that requires strategic thinking to determine why a product has value and how the value of that product will increase or decrease over time. This is something that project management just doesn’t have because projects are chartered to accomplish something specific. Once that’s done, the project is over. This complete shift in thinking is why culture change is so vital to the success of managing your company’s value streams.

    Here is some advice for managing cultural change:

    • Use roadmaps for planning: Many organizations already are familiar with roadmaps. For DPM, roadmaps are vital. These roadmaps should be created in a roadmapping tool that stakeholders in the organization can see and share. Roadmaps should be in a common place so the people who need access can do so. Additionally, all stakeholders should be trained on how to create a roadmap and the format that’s used for doing so to ensure consistency. Guidelines also should be established for how often stakeholders need to review roadmaps, which serve as the main vehicle for accountability in the DPM world.
    • Establish roles and responsibilities for product managers: It’s vital to establish the responsibilities of product managers and identify the skillsets they need. Product managers are primarily focused on interacting with customers and setting product strategy. They are external facing and primarily responsible for representing the product to customers. While they interact with engineering on occasion, most of their time is spent providing customer engagement, so customers feel like they're getting value from the product.
    • Establish roles and responsibilities for product owners: Many times, companies mistakenly believe that product managers and product owners are one in the same. However, they are two distinct roles with vastly different requirements that are both equally important to the success of DPM. Product owners are primarily internally facing and work with research and development (R&D) teams to ensure that delivery of features that are necessary for customers to get value.
    • Recognize that product strategy matters: One of the most important things to embrace about DPM is that product strategy matters, and product managers must be focused on product strategy. That strategy may take the form of identifying what customers expect to get out of a product and how it will change in the future. The strategy also might be recognizing that customers won’t need a product in a year and determining how to wind down the product, communicate the changes to the customers and transition them to different products.

    If you’ve come to the realization that Digital Product Management is a good move for your company, don't be afraid of the transition. It’s going to be tough making the change from project to product management. But once you get through it, everyone will realize that this is the way we should have done things from the beginning. The decision itself is harder than making the journey. Be courageous. Take the jump. You’ll be glad you did.