The Intersection of Scope Management and Product vs. Feature Teams

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Sep 11, 2023

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The Intersection of Scope Management and Product vs. Feature Teams

Introduction:

In the world of product management, scope management plays a critical role in determining the success of a product. Simultaneously, the structure and dynamics of product teams greatly impact their ability to deliver valuable outcomes. By exploring the commonalities between scope management and the distinction between product and feature teams, product managers can gain valuable insights to enhance their decision-making processes.

Understanding Scope Management:

Scope management in product management involves delineating the boundaries of a product's first iteration and managing scope creep. Product managers and teams often encounter three types of scope: must-haves, nice-to-haves, and unforeseen feedback. The importance of shipping a first version promptly lies in the opportunity to gather valuable feedback, which can shape subsequent versions.

Actionable Advice:

1. Plotting Must-Haves vs. Nice-to-Haves:

Collaborate closely with the product team to distinguish essential features from optional ones for the initial release. This exercise helps define the scope of the first iteration.

2. Focusing on the Problem to Solve:

Ensure that the first version specifically addresses the problem at hand. If competitors offer similar solutions, consider whether solving the problem alone is sufficient. Exploring additional differentiators might be necessary.

3. Revisiting the Strategy:

A well-defined strategy should encompass clear decisions about the target audience, differentiators, brand values, and more. If it is crucial to differentiate from competitors, limiting the scope to must-haves might not suffice for the first iteration.

Product vs. Feature Teams:

Within the realm of product teams, three distinct types exist. The most prevalent type is the delivery team, also known as dev teams, scrum teams, or engineering teams. They primarily focus on execution rather than strategic decision-making. Empowered product teams, on the other hand, are cross-functional and empowered to find the best solutions to the problems they face. Lastly, feature teams lack empowerment and function as facilitators, responsible for delivering specific features.

Commonalities with Scope Management:

Both scope management and the concept of product vs. feature teams share the goal of delivering valuable outcomes. Scope management ensures that the product's scope aligns with the defined goals, while the empowered product team model promotes cross-functional collaboration and outcome-driven decision-making.

Insights and Unique Ideas:

The empowered product team model proves to be the most effective approach in successful companies. Product managers in such teams must possess deep knowledge about customers, data, the industry, and the company's various departments. Conversely, feature teams often lack this knowledge, resulting in role confusion and a weaker sense of responsibility.

Actionable Advice:

To determine if your team falls under the empowered product team model, consider the following tests:

  • Is there role confusion between the product manager and designer?
  • Are outcomes the primary focus, rather than solely delivering features?
  • Does the team possess deep knowledge about customers, data, and the industry?
  • Is the team empowered to make decisions and solve problems independently?

Conclusion:

Scope management and the distinction between product and feature teams share common threads in their pursuit of delivering valuable outcomes. By applying actionable advice in scope management and assessing the characteristics of their teams, product managers can enhance their decision-making processes and foster a culture of cross-functional collaboration. Ultimately, successful product management requires a holistic approach that encompasses both scope management and the empowerment of product teams.

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