by Daniel Lambert
I would not be surprised that a majority of Business Transformation initiatives will involve in the future product (and service) management. Yet, literature about this subject is scarce. Product managers often work in isolation from the rest of the company, even if product management – which can be either the creation of a new product or more often the revamping of existing products – involves multiple customer personas, business units, multiple functionalities, diverse capabilities, and different sets of business strategies from an organization. To make sense of this complexity and to increase the odds of getting it right more rapidly and within budget, the use of business architecture for product (and service) management is all indicated.
This article will examine how business architecture modeling handles currently product management and show examples of product management executed using business architecture. Finally, this article will look at tools like the Value Proposition Canvas, and the Customer Value Map to understand how they can contribute in delivering product (or a service) planning in line with the specificities of all customer personas, all involved business units, with all the necessary enabling capabilities, which are all aligned to specific sets of business strategies.
Business Architecture and Product Management Today
Typical large corporations today have a very complex product portfolio. Such complex product portfolios can include one, several or all the following: physical material, hardware electronics, software products, business process outsourcing of non-primary business activities, insurance, warranty services, etc. As indicated by Ganesh Balasubramaniam, “Some of these products may have come through acquired businesses. Few of these products may already have product managers. A slew of business capabilities are required to deliver these products & services to the market place. Driven by competitive marketplace today, companies try to expose more business capabilities as products & services to the market. This in turn increases the complexity of product portfolio. Senior business leaders desire to develop a blueprint for the way forward. [i]”
“Product managers are responsible among other things for product vision, market research, competitive analysis, target market, customer requirements and roadmap.[ii]” Some of these tasks can be executed using business architecture that articulates its model around product mapping using mostly these basic relationships, where a Product is 1- part of a Product line, 2- impacted by one or several Strategy(ies), 3- relies on usually several Value Streams and Capabilities, owned and/or offered by a Business Unit, impacted by an Initiative, sometime sourced from a Partner and enabled by Capabilities[iii], as shown in Figure 2 and 3. Figure 2[iv] above shows a table with a list Capabilities that can enable different products. Figure 3[v] below shows a 3-dimension table on how Products and/or Product Lines can be enabled by Capabilities and offered by Business Units. Both Figures are, in brief, somewhat rudimentary tools. A lot more could be done.
Examples of Product Management Using Business Architecture
Some companies are using Business Architecture to address their product management. Here are two examples, VF Corporation and Nordea.
Let’s start with VF Corporation as shown in Amy Crockett’s presentation[vi] made at the Business Architecture Guild in 2016. VF Corporation is a global leader in branded lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories, with more than 30 brands, 60,000 associates and $12.3 billion in revenue.
In 2012, a Product Line Management (PLM) business solution was implemented in the European operations at Kipling, one of VF’s brand or line of products. With escalating concerns regarding functionality, customizations, complexity and region specific terminology, Kipling Europe reverted to a manual solution. Without a business solution in place, there was a risk that the rate of growth at Kipling could eventually be impeded.
VF decided to use Enterprise Business Architecture to consolidate successfully the implementation of the PLM business solution at Kipling Europe to maintain VF’s simple business model, fast-moving business and lean team approach by defining goals, needs, understand current operations, identify potential technology solutions, compare capabilities/features to technology solutions, create interim and target state business solution options to finally come up with a VF Enterprise Product Management Best Practice Guide reusable for every brand.
Nordea’s approach to Product Management using Business Architecture was very different, as shown in Christina Holm Honoré’s and Lene Østerberg’s presentation[vii] made at the Business Architecture Guild in 2015. Nordea is one of the Top 10 European Retail Banks doing most of its business in Scandinavia and the Baltics. It has applied more precisely Business Architecture to Product Control, since there is an increasing demand from regulators on reporting and control standards, banks need to adjust more and more rapidly to the market conditions with additional new products and more complex combined products, and finally because work needs to be streamlined and simplified.
With the consulting firm Thematix[viii], Nordea was able to design Value mapping and Stakeholder identification, Capability map and Value Stage/Capability cross-map, Information map and Capability/Information cross-map, and finally issue Root Cause Map delivered in a database using business architecture tools for additional analysis and continued evolution. This Business Architecture modeling applied to Product Control resulted in enhance stakeholder experiences throughout the bank.
Additional New Product Management Tools Linkable to Business Architecture
By no means should Business Architecture replace Product Management. Still, Business Architecture modeling could contribute substantially more to Product Management and at the same time enhance the holistic view of their enterprise using the Value Proposition Canvas and even better the Customer Value Map, as shown at the top of the article in Figure 1.
I have shown in a previous article[ix] how Business Model Canvas could be bridged to Business Architecture. Derived from a Business Model Canvas is a Value Proposition Canvas[x] from Stategyzer made specifically for product design or enhancement. In a Value Proposition Canvas, a Value Proposition (with products/services, gain creators and pain relivers) is examined in detail for each Customer Segment (with gains, pains and customer jobs). A Value Proposition and a Customer Segment are two of the 9 blocks of a Business Model Canvas.
A Customer Value Map, as shown in Figure 1, is a better tool to address product design, enhancement and management. It is more complete, rigorous, and linked to not only a Business Model Canvas, but also mapped to a business architecture model. A Customer Value Map includes two main sections, the customer profile and the value proposition profile. The customer profile for each type of customers or persona is made of needs, gains and pains. The Value Proposition profile is made of the covered products/services, benefits and features. Each need should ideally be covered by a product/service. Each gain and pain should be addressed or remediated by a benefit and/or a feature of one of the covered products/services. Once needs, gains and pains for each targeted customer type or persona is addressed, a product manager can start planning which capabilities, initiatives, business units, information is required to execute and deliver properly the products and/or services of a Value Proposition.
In this article, I have examined how business architecture modeling handles currently product management and showed two examples of product management executed using business architecture. I have also touched on tools like the Customer Value Map to understand how it can contribute in delivering a product (or service) planned in line with the specificities of all customer personas, all involved business units, with all the necessary enabling capabilities, which are all aligned to specific sets of business strategies.
[i] Quote from this article entitled “Business Architects and Product Managers” written by Ganesh Balasubramaniam on the BAInstitute.org website.
[ii] Quote from this article entitled “Business Architects and Product Managers” written by Ganesh Balasubramaniam on the BAInstitute.org website.
[iii] As per the BIZBOK® Guide‘s Product Mapping Section on page 245 of version 5.5.
[iv] Figure 2 is Figure 2.7.9 from the BIZBOK® Guide‘s Product Mapping Section on page 241 of version 5.5.
[v] Figure 3 is Figure 2.7.10 from the BIZBOK® Guide‘s Product Mapping Section on page 243 of version 5.5.
[vi] Presentation made by Amy Crockett from VF Corporation entitled “VF Corporation: Addressing Product Management Needs for the Fastest Growing Brand in Europe” on March 12 2016 at a Business Architecture Guild Summit.
[vii] Presentation made by Christina Holm Honoré and Lene Østerberg from Nordea entitled “Tomorrows Business Architecture in Nordea Product Control” on June 11 2015 at a European Business Architecture Guild Summit.
[viii] Jim Rhyne and Robert Kost from Thematix contributed to enhancing Nordea’s Product Control using Business Architecture.
[ix] Article entitled “Bridging Business Model Canvas and Business Architecture”, written by Daniel Lambert in the Modern Analyst Journal on Nov. 27, 2017.
[x] For additional information about a Value Proposition Canvas, view this video made by Stategyzer.