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#RallyON15	
  ©2015 Rally Software Development Corp. All rights reserved.
Rich Mironov
Making the Right Strategic Choices in
Product Portfolios
Rich@Mironov.com
•  Veteran product manager / exec / strategist
•  Consult on organizing Agile product organizations
•  Interim VP product management / CPO
•  Six startups, including as CEO / founder
•  “The Art of Product Management”
•  First product camp, Agile Alliance
product track chair
About Rich Mironov
2w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
•  How many of you report up through engineering,
development, or IT?
•  …Marketing or product / portfolio management?
•  …Are product owners or product managers?
•  …Responsible for market / business validation?
•  …Able to veto products or projects?
Audience Check
3w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
For revenue software and software-
enabled companies:
1.  Validation and strategy should
precede development
2.  Organizational behaviors shape
strategic decision-making
3.  Explicit portfolio allocations
enable feature-level prioritization
Agenda
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 4
•  Make money by shipping market-winning software
•  Software profits are all about scale
•  $5M for first customer ship, $0 for the next 10,000 units
•  No company ever has enough development capacity
•  Segmentation is strategic art of choosing similar
customers who want same solution (product)
•  Can’t let any single customer’s opinion dominate
Revenue Software Companies and
Software-Assisted Companies
5w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
There’s	
  nothing	
  more	
  
wasteful	
  than	
  brilliantly	
  
engineering	
  a	
  product	
  that	
  
doesn’t	
  sell.	
  
	
  
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 6
Making The Right Strategic Choices in Product Portfolios
•  Too little agility at strategic / portfolio level?
•  Annual budget, six-month project review cycle
•  Full waterfall requirements / specs / designs
•  Process-bound, uncompetitive, products always late
•  Our mean time to decide > competitor’s mean time to ship
•  Too much (overused) agility?
•  ADHD / shiny object: initiatives change monthly
•  Weak validation, business case, pricing, competitive info
•  Many projects abandoned late in cycle
•  First a product / business problem,
then an engineering problem
Strategic Agility: Critical Product
Management Issue
8w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
Faster Cars Need Better Drivers
9w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
Product Success Food Chain
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 10
Is	
  this	
  a	
  good	
  	
  
problem	
  to	
  solve?	
  
(product	
  mgmt)	
  
Do	
  we	
  have	
  a	
  good	
  
solu=on	
  design?	
  
(dev,	
  UX,	
  QA,	
  support)	
  
Can	
  we	
  implement	
  
efficiently,	
  agilely?	
  
(program	
  mgmt)	
  
Can	
  we	
  go	
  to	
  market	
  
and	
  bring	
  in	
  revenue?	
  
(marke7ng,	
  sales)	
  
Commercial Software Failure Modes
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 11
Undifferen=ated	
  
or	
  poorly	
  
posi=oned	
  
15%	
  
Marke=ng/Sales/
Channel	
  failures	
  
25%	
  
Late	
  Delivery*	
  
15%	
  
Poor	
  Quality*	
  
10%	
  
Wrong	
  problem,	
  
wrong	
  solu=on	
  
or	
  product	
  
35%	
  
*Within	
  engineering	
  scope	
   From	
  my	
  personal	
  experience	
  
Most	
  of	
  the	
  success	
  /	
  
failure	
  of	
  a	
  product	
  is	
  
determined	
  before	
  we	
  
pick	
  our	
  first	
  developer	
  or	
  
fill	
  out	
  our	
  first	
  story	
  card	
  
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 12
•  Hard to attribute success / failure
•  Sales teams paid to subvert
corporate goals
•  Revenue estimates have huge error bars
•  Executives don’t believe in mutually
exclusive development choices
•  Shiny objects, confirmation bias, groupthink
•  Politics and big swinging budgets
Organizational Challenges To
Strategic Product Thinking
13w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
•  Limited development resources = household budget
•  Too many expenses: rent, food, repairs,
entertainment, college fund, property taxes, Girl
Scout cookies…
•  Kids Execs don’t
remember what
we spent committed
to yesterday
Portfolio Planning
14
•  Hard to rank-order unlike items
•  Where does this bug go versus minor features?
•  A one-off customization versus more DevOps work?
•  Instead, group similar requests
•  Which two features will we put into v6.5?
•  P0, P1, P2, P3…
•  We can fund one audacious, long-term program:
teleportation or synthetic petroleum
•  Cross-bucket trade-offs reflect our biases
Prioritizing Within Buckets
15w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
Typical Commercial Software Company
R&D Budget
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 16
Features	
  for	
  
current	
  release	
  
50%	
  
Quality	
  
(refactor,	
  test	
  
automa=on)	
  
15%	
  
Engineering	
  
overhead,	
  10%	
  
Big	
  future	
  bet,	
  
5%	
  
Sales	
  one-­‐offs,	
  
non-­‐roadmap	
  
20%	
  
In my personal experience
Varies with Growth Stage
Current
release
50%Quality
20%
Eng
overhead
5%
Sales
one-offs
25%
Current
releases/
features
35%
Quality
35%
Future bet
(M&A)
5%
Eng overhead
15%
Sales one-
offs
10%
v1.0 Software startup
Mature software (post-innovation)
w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 17
•  This quarter, how should we spend our
precious feature-focused story points?
•  70% on deployability, 20% on cost reduction?
-or-
•  60% on scaling, 30% on hardware reliability?
•  What was our actual spending
last quarter?
•  What portion was “unplanned”
or sales interrupts?
Portfolio Strategy =
Forcing Hard Trade-offs
18w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
•  “QA and support teams can sort P1 / P2 bugs any way
they like, using WSJF or any other method. Max 310
story points in Q3.”
•  “Performance improvement goal is 65% faster
transaction processing. Architect leads story writing.”
•  But customer-visible features are
heavily lobbied and highly political.
Product management needs to be
development’s heat shield.
Allows Decentralized Decision-Making
19w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
•  Users understand problems, but misdesign solutions
•  Have we asked enough people / the right people?
•  Watch for confirmation bias
•  …Before full-scale development starts
•  $2M+/year burn rate creates its own momentum
•  Then frequent prototypes and early
versions
Intellectually Honest Validation
(Lean Tools)
20w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
•  Must have product strategy / product management
•  Hire for experience, not convenience
•  Validation before full development
•  A month of good market input might save $2M in pivots
•  Set product-level and portfolio-level
spending allocations
•  One-off choices trend in same direction
•  Build a deeply agile development capability
Takeaways
21w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
#RallyON15	
  ©2015 Rally Software Development Corp. All rights reserved.
My next three challenges / three big open questions:
1. Identifying full-time owners for portfolio strategy
2. How to (efficiently) grow market-facing skills
3. Justifying adequate product / portfolio headcount
Rich Mironov
Rich@Mironov.com
Thank you
Contact
Rich Mironov, CEO
Mironov Consulting
233 Franklin St, Suite #308
San Francisco, CA 94102
RichMironov	
  
@RichMironov
Rich@Mironov.com	
  
+1-­‐650-­‐315-­‐7394	
  

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Making The Right Strategic Choices in Product Portfolios

  • 1. #RallyON15  ©2015 Rally Software Development Corp. All rights reserved. Rich Mironov Making the Right Strategic Choices in Product Portfolios Rich@Mironov.com
  • 2. •  Veteran product manager / exec / strategist •  Consult on organizing Agile product organizations •  Interim VP product management / CPO •  Six startups, including as CEO / founder •  “The Art of Product Management” •  First product camp, Agile Alliance product track chair About Rich Mironov 2w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 3. •  How many of you report up through engineering, development, or IT? •  …Marketing or product / portfolio management? •  …Are product owners or product managers? •  …Responsible for market / business validation? •  …Able to veto products or projects? Audience Check 3w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 4. For revenue software and software- enabled companies: 1.  Validation and strategy should precede development 2.  Organizational behaviors shape strategic decision-making 3.  Explicit portfolio allocations enable feature-level prioritization Agenda w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 4
  • 5. •  Make money by shipping market-winning software •  Software profits are all about scale •  $5M for first customer ship, $0 for the next 10,000 units •  No company ever has enough development capacity •  Segmentation is strategic art of choosing similar customers who want same solution (product) •  Can’t let any single customer’s opinion dominate Revenue Software Companies and Software-Assisted Companies 5w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 6. There’s  nothing  more   wasteful  than  brilliantly   engineering  a  product  that   doesn’t  sell.     w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 6
  • 8. •  Too little agility at strategic / portfolio level? •  Annual budget, six-month project review cycle •  Full waterfall requirements / specs / designs •  Process-bound, uncompetitive, products always late •  Our mean time to decide > competitor’s mean time to ship •  Too much (overused) agility? •  ADHD / shiny object: initiatives change monthly •  Weak validation, business case, pricing, competitive info •  Many projects abandoned late in cycle •  First a product / business problem, then an engineering problem Strategic Agility: Critical Product Management Issue 8w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 9. Faster Cars Need Better Drivers 9w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 10. Product Success Food Chain w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 10 Is  this  a  good     problem  to  solve?   (product  mgmt)   Do  we  have  a  good   solu=on  design?   (dev,  UX,  QA,  support)   Can  we  implement   efficiently,  agilely?   (program  mgmt)   Can  we  go  to  market   and  bring  in  revenue?   (marke7ng,  sales)  
  • 11. Commercial Software Failure Modes w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 11 Undifferen=ated   or  poorly   posi=oned   15%   Marke=ng/Sales/ Channel  failures   25%   Late  Delivery*   15%   Poor  Quality*   10%   Wrong  problem,   wrong  solu=on   or  product   35%   *Within  engineering  scope   From  my  personal  experience  
  • 12. Most  of  the  success  /   failure  of  a  product  is   determined  before  we   pick  our  first  developer  or   fill  out  our  first  story  card   w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 12
  • 13. •  Hard to attribute success / failure •  Sales teams paid to subvert corporate goals •  Revenue estimates have huge error bars •  Executives don’t believe in mutually exclusive development choices •  Shiny objects, confirmation bias, groupthink •  Politics and big swinging budgets Organizational Challenges To Strategic Product Thinking 13w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 14. •  Limited development resources = household budget •  Too many expenses: rent, food, repairs, entertainment, college fund, property taxes, Girl Scout cookies… •  Kids Execs don’t remember what we spent committed to yesterday Portfolio Planning 14
  • 15. •  Hard to rank-order unlike items •  Where does this bug go versus minor features? •  A one-off customization versus more DevOps work? •  Instead, group similar requests •  Which two features will we put into v6.5? •  P0, P1, P2, P3… •  We can fund one audacious, long-term program: teleportation or synthetic petroleum •  Cross-bucket trade-offs reflect our biases Prioritizing Within Buckets 15w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 16. Typical Commercial Software Company R&D Budget w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 16 Features  for   current  release   50%   Quality   (refactor,  test   automa=on)   15%   Engineering   overhead,  10%   Big  future  bet,   5%   Sales  one-­‐offs,   non-­‐roadmap   20%   In my personal experience
  • 17. Varies with Growth Stage Current release 50%Quality 20% Eng overhead 5% Sales one-offs 25% Current releases/ features 35% Quality 35% Future bet (M&A) 5% Eng overhead 15% Sales one- offs 10% v1.0 Software startup Mature software (post-innovation) w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m 17
  • 18. •  This quarter, how should we spend our precious feature-focused story points? •  70% on deployability, 20% on cost reduction? -or- •  60% on scaling, 30% on hardware reliability? •  What was our actual spending last quarter? •  What portion was “unplanned” or sales interrupts? Portfolio Strategy = Forcing Hard Trade-offs 18w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 19. •  “QA and support teams can sort P1 / P2 bugs any way they like, using WSJF or any other method. Max 310 story points in Q3.” •  “Performance improvement goal is 65% faster transaction processing. Architect leads story writing.” •  But customer-visible features are heavily lobbied and highly political. Product management needs to be development’s heat shield. Allows Decentralized Decision-Making 19w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 20. •  Users understand problems, but misdesign solutions •  Have we asked enough people / the right people? •  Watch for confirmation bias •  …Before full-scale development starts •  $2M+/year burn rate creates its own momentum •  Then frequent prototypes and early versions Intellectually Honest Validation (Lean Tools) 20w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 21. •  Must have product strategy / product management •  Hire for experience, not convenience •  Validation before full development •  A month of good market input might save $2M in pivots •  Set product-level and portfolio-level spending allocations •  One-off choices trend in same direction •  Build a deeply agile development capability Takeaways 21w w w . M I R O N O V . c o m
  • 22. #RallyON15  ©2015 Rally Software Development Corp. All rights reserved. My next three challenges / three big open questions: 1. Identifying full-time owners for portfolio strategy 2. How to (efficiently) grow market-facing skills 3. Justifying adequate product / portfolio headcount Rich Mironov Rich@Mironov.com Thank you
  • 23. Contact Rich Mironov, CEO Mironov Consulting 233 Franklin St, Suite #308 San Francisco, CA 94102 RichMironov   @RichMironov Rich@Mironov.com   +1-­‐650-­‐315-­‐7394