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Preparing an Existing Internal Product for an External, Commercial Launch in the Future

Shyam V Nath

Specialist Leader, AI and IoT at Deloitte

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Problem

The challenge for me at that time was that the product was only being used internally. As a product manager, my goal was to balance the direction of the product between the specific use internally, as well as, making it sufficiently broad so that it could solve similar problems for external customers in the future. It was all in preparation to establish appeal for when we would go commercial, rather than seeming like something meant more for internal use that we were morphing into a product.

"My goal was to balance the direction of the product between the specific use internally, as well as, making it sufficiently broad so that it could solve similar problems for external customers in the future."

Whereas internal users were immediate and there was payback in solving those problems, there was not immediate payback in solving external customer issues because we had not yet gone commercial at this point or were not planning to in the near future. It became a challenge in making the product industry great and broad based so that it could solve a variety of problems, therefore making it easier to launch commercially at some point in the future. We were trying to build towards that even though there was no place to prove the features were usable, because in the short term, it was only useful in specific places.

Actions taken

  • To overcome this problem I looked at similar products in the industry and spoke with customers to find out if the specific product that we were working on were available to them, would they use it and for what purpose. I then used that justification as a voice of customer, even though they were not technically customers at that point. Lastly, I balanced it with the voice of the real customers who were already using it internally and had immediate needs from the product.
  • Aside from seeking popular opinion, I also built a tactical roadmap for each quarterly release, while at the same time, establishing a three year vision for the product.

Lessons learned

  • In maintaining a three year running roadmap, while simultaneously keeping a tactical quarterly or two quarterly product roadmap with detailed feedback from existing internal customers, I was able to gain a more broad stroke vision for the product at the epic level versus story level. The story level is more tactical work on features whereas the epic level allows you to focus on a more broad functionality.
  • This information provided a vision to the development teams and the architects who were the other stakeholders, so they could not only see what they were working on in terms of immediate use, but also where the product would be ending in the long term.
  • This external product was later put into use when General Electric paired up with the International Air Travel Association (IATA) and other outside companies to build a product and solution for new airline regulations regarding better luggage control.

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Shyam V Nath

Specialist Leader, AI and IoT at Deloitte


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