Successful technology product launch during volatile and uncertain times: a case study

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Within nine months, the FarWell team established the client’s program foundation, launched four new products, and finished implementations for the first three customers. The architects and engineers had their skills assessed, were trained, and became certified in advanced Cloud services.

Customer and engagement background

A technology services company created four, next-generation Cloud products that required advanced technology strategy, complex architecture, and flawless execution.

The client operates critical business infrastructure for leading United States corporations. The next-generation product implementations needed to be successful and meet objectives for customer experience, solution delivery optimization, revenue generation, and ongoing operations.

The advanced technology necessary for the new products required all members of the value chain be engaged in decisions about business and operating model changes, especially business owners, architectural experts, and engineering leaders. Clear, concise, and frequent communication were all necessary to help transform the culture and the business to the next-generation way of thinking.

Client challenge: make corrections to a struggling program and meet targeted milestones and objectives.

The client needed to ensure the timely launch of four Cloud products and deliver the first three beta customer implementations on schedule. Because long-term pandemic impacts were unknown, the client knew it was imperative to meet planned economic and performance objectives and build mature digital business and solution capabilities.

After completing a Right-Fit Discovery, FarWell recommended this approach:

  1. Build the program and establish program foundations
  2. Build talent, assess advanced technology skills, and create individualized training plans
  3. Build ease of doing business and tie to the customer experience (CX) strategy

Establish program foundations – sponsor and stakeholder management and communications

The FarWell team worked with the client to complete a stakeholder assessment. The assessment identified key program management foundation gaps:

  1. Sponsor and stakeholder management
  2. Cross-functional roles and responsibilities
  3. Business-owner-role communication and decision making
  4. Regular scheduled communication delivery

Successful gap remediation required business sponsors and stakeholders to be consulted and informed about the product development and program execution. It also called for decisions to be made at the right level – strategic, tactical, or operational.

It was critical for the business owner to be identified as the spokesperson and to deliver planned and scheduled messages using established channels. This communications strategy helped create a foundation of trust and transparency to help break down existing silos.

Example of decision making and communication protocols
The first step to establish a program foundation and ensure sponsors and stakeholders receive consistent and actionable communications.

Establish program foundations – standards and forecasts

Once communications were clarified, the FarWell team worked with project managers to establish the program foundations. The team developed standards and templates for project plans, resource plans, timesheets, program and project dashboards and budgets. The product directors and engineers were identified as key pacesetters.

In parallel to the foundational dashboards and budgets, the FarWell team built a program financial forecast to achieve five objectives:

  1. Identify all program resources
  2. Identify the right skill level for the right task at the right cost
  3. Capitalize labor for the four new products and realize the bottom-line benefit
  4. Understand the costs of the new products and launch programs
  5. Build a forecast for existing customer migration and capture the related capitalization benefit

Build talent – assess advanced technology skills and create individualized training plans

Both the stakeholder assessment and the resourcing revealed that product directors and engineers were key pacesetters, and solution delivery resources required additional cloud service skills training to complete the project and optimize their effectiveness.

The FarWell team recommended a “learn by doing” approach with hands on client work as part of individualized training plans. The first step was to create a skills heat map for baseline competencies. Leaders evaluated all resources, ranking skill level from (1) Cannot perform the skill to (5) Can lead and train others in the skill.

To be sales ready, the business owners also required Cloud Partner certifications. Leaders tied certifications to individual and team performance goals in the training plans. Recognition was delivered during the monthly communication updates. It became a shared, cross-functional goal and it helped further break down silos.

Build ease of doing business and tie to CX strategy

As the FarWell team worked with the PMO to deliver the first three beta customers, the team identified gaps in solution delivery. So, they identified and built a program enhancement named “ease of doing business.”

Previous generations of products had been created in silos plagued with “snowflakery” (a term used in IT when an organization does things in an individualized way that doesn’t necessarily ascribe to best practices). The new program enhancement offered a customer-focused “Ready” process cycle instead.

An overall program objective was to stay true to the product catalog. This product-development standardization was expected to lead to customer experience improvement. And the team performance was expected to improve as business and operating models matured through definition, documentation, and consistency.

Following this approach also helped the FarWell team identify a risk that surfaced during gathering requirements for the customer’s design. The FarWell team recommended a “Know Your Customer” (KYC) approach to enhance the discovery and deployment phases. The CX strategy project took inputs and outputs from the KYC project.

FarWell also created three additional “ease of doing business” workstreams.

  1. Data center ready
  2. Supply chain ready
  3. Product development process (PDP)

Data center ready

For Cloud products, the data center builds product and adds capacity. Pre-planning this work mitigates critical path delays in solution delivery. The FarWell team completed the Data Center Ready step, creating a 1–3-year roadmap for the largest customers expected to migrate.

Supply chain ready

For Cloud products, the business and operating model requires the ability to scale capacity quickly. The program evaluated distributors for their supply-chain capabilities. Ongoing capacity analysis is underway.

Product development process delivery enhancements

The FarWell team led the execution of three steps within this workstream.

  1. Automation and orchestration
  2. Roadmaps and release schedules,
  3. Cloud security to design solutions and tools, and managed plans of action and milestones (POAM) for security

Product and technology roadmaps, release schedules and plans were also established as part of the execution strategy.

FarWell Ease of doing business value chain example diagram
Example of ease of doing business value chain
The “stay true to the product catalog” process ensures that standardization, solution delivery and operational optimization occur in order to protect revenue and operating margin. The KYC process helps through better requirements traceability.

The results met client expectations and more

Within nine months, the FarWell team established the client’s program foundation, launched four new products, and finished implementations for the first three beta customers. The architects and engineers had their skills assessed, were trained, and became certified in advanced Cloud services. The client is well on its way to being named a Cloud Partner.

The executive leaders enthusiastically supported our work and have retained us for another strategic program aligned with their CX strategy. The business owners met their KPI objectives. The program manager role was solidified, and an internal resource was promoted to the opportunity. Many project managers now lead ease of doing business programs or customer implementations.

The client is confident they are on the right path to deliver their desired customer experience, whether it be to reduce a customer cost, reduce enterprise complexity, increase performance efficiency, or merely to simplify infrastructure.

The most notable organizational outcome is that people changed during the program. Their customers trust client staff more, and the staff members trust each other more. It is the result of finally working together instead of functioning within silos.

Here’s what the client’s director of product and strategy had to say about FarWell’s work on the engagement.

“We threw them into the deep end of a struggling program. We asked them to learn all of the moving parts, get control of the situation and put us on a path to success. The effort required a strong grasp of technology, operational processes, program and financial management, and most importantly organizational change.

The best part of our experience is that we built a partnership on mutual trust and a shared desire to succeed.

The team’s sense of humor, broad and vast experience, and amount of effort they put into everything made them a critical part of our success and the success of this program. It met all of the identified objectives.”

Contact us for a Right Fit Discovery session

Whether you’re working on a technology product launch initiative or a different type of strategic program, FarWell’s team of skilled advisors can help you drive your project to a successful conclusion. Contact us for a Right Fit Discovery session, which includes an expert strategy session, change readiness review, project overview and a free proposal.

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