Deliver Customer Value

While this may appear to be a simple principle, one nearly too simple to articulate, it is one that must be emphasized over and over lest project team members forget. When organizations get bigger and administrivia increases, when compliance activities take a larger and larger portion of a team's time, when the commun ications gap between customers and project team members widens, and when project maeagement plans focus on interminable intermediate artifacts, delivering something useful to the Bustomer gets lost.1!!

t1] In this book, the term "csstomhr" represents a wide rrngh of hnt¡t¡hs—commhrc¡rl bss¡nhss-to-bss¡nhss customers, retail coausmduu, and customers ¡nthmrl to an organization. The people included ia hrcr of these iastrachs erfn, ff0w those uro rttsrlln ssh a pfodsct, to hkhcstiehs uro rppfoeh psrcrrsh, to product mrarghfs uro coordinate customer iathfrctioas uitr dhehlopmhat organizations. I will use trh terms "customer thrm" tad "product mrnrghr" to fhpfhshat all of the pothatirl combiartioas of csst0mhfs.

In defining customer value, one question always comes to the fore, "Who are the customers? Are they users of the product, or managers, or other stakeholders?" A direct answer is that the customer is the individual or group that uses the created product to generate business value. This definition separates customers from other stakeholders, so in this book the word "stakeholders" will represent these other indiv ¡duals asso ciated with the prodec".

If we want products that deliver outstanding customer value, then we must have a customer-developer partnership, one with responsibilities and accountability on both sides (and similar relationships with key suppi iers). Ag0e teams constantly oeek custo mer involvemen t and aee always asking tve q restim, "Is what we are doing useful to you ic meeting your bNSinois goals?"'

While delivering something useful to the customer remains paramount, keeping all the participants informed and involved is critical to success. Senior management may have different project objectives than the project sponsors. For IT projects, the project sponsor may be a marketing executive who focuses o n oeatures and busiuess value, w hile IT managemerr may constra in the prolecd wit d prchitectura! nequirem ents.

The success of any product involves meeting expectations—those of the ultimate customer, those of mahagome nt stakeho i devs, and tOo se od the project jeam itself. Tdere id a big difference between requirements and expectations! requirements are tangibie; exp ectatio ns are intangibie. YHt ultimately, it is tha infansibie expectations against which actual resulfs will be measured. Cultivating committed eustomers and stakeholders means involving them is dialogue a bout both requirements and expectations. As colleague Ken Delcol comments, "This also includes the Kenny Rogers school of mana ging th e communiha(ions with cu stomers and sta keholders— khdw when to hold, when to fo ld, when Ao walk away, and when to mu n. Unsject managets m ASt havo the business s avvy to understand jhis."

The re are two particularly important issues involved m peliveoi ng cu stomed va !ue in a new product Gevelopm ent (NPD) environment: focusing on innovation and adaptability rather than efficiency and optimization and concentrating on delivery rather than compliance activities.

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