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HomeBUSINESSCreate The Right Product With Scrum And Lean Startup

Create The Right Product With Scrum And Lean Startup

Discover in this article an avant-garde method from the world of startups, compatible with SCRUM. It would be more than beneficial to traditional companies to validate their future audiences’ interest in their applications precisely. When you have worked in a company for many years, you know your job and the processes it involves inside out. However, stepping back from positions in neighboring departments (marketing, IT department, communications) can sometimes be challenging.

Moreover, these departments are sometimes so compartmentalized in certain companies that we do not necessarily take the trouble to take an interest in the professions and needs of others. However, digital projects are often enhanced by fluid communication and shared knowledge between departments. Knowledge enables, for example, IT departments, marketing departments, and stakeholders to jointly ensure the right direction is taken from the start of a project.

After having created 2 innovative companies and having had the opportunity to work on SCRUM projects within traditional companies, I share with you my experience, and I explain, in this article, how entrepreneurship allowed me to be more efficient when creating digital projects.

Open-Mindedness

By becoming a business manager, I had to train, discover, and learn in the field, and through experience, I acquired the basics of marketing, commerce, communication, finance, management, HR, etc. In the space of 5 years, I had the immense opportunity to open my mind to all these areas, which, previously, when I worked for large groups within DSI, only represented names for me—neighboring departments within the organization.

The entrepreneurial adventure’s open-mindedness allowed me to transform my vision of a product and projects radically. I discovered the ins and outs of marketing and understood the impacts and repercussions it had on the product. The way I presented projects to my various contacts also changed considerably. Before going through this entrepreneurial phase, I underestimated the importance of harmony between marketing, communication, and the different players involved and acting on the life of a digital project.

Experiencing both situations allowed me to understand better the conflicts of interest we sometimes encounter in large companies. The interest of the marketing department is different from the interest of the communication department, which will be further from the interest of the IT department in a single product. Unfortunately, these points of view are only sometimes correctly shared between the different entities.

Here is a small, very stereotypical example (please forgive me) of a divergence of interest: Let’s imagine a company embarking on developing its first mobile application.

  • The marketing department wants to offer a mobile application to its customers to increase their loyalty and push them (push notification) more easily with contextualized information concerning new services or promotions.
  • The communications department sees a new preferred channel for communicating with the growing community around the brand in this mobile application.
  • Thanks to this application, the digital department is delighted to take a new step towards digitalization and innovate on the platform that has become essential in 2016: mobile.
  • Finally, the IT department has the challenge of increasing its skills in mobile technologies and transforming its IS to respond to future multi-channel developments.

Based on this observation, no one fundamentally puts themselves in the place of the essential actor I have not yet mentioned, who is neither more nor less: the end user (often the prospect or “customer”). You will tell me the expression of need was written to provide these future users with adapted services and that its functionalities are supposed to respond precisely to specific needs collected by auditing or surveying existing customers.

Users often need to catch up to satisfy different departments’ interests. The applications delivered to users need better communication between departments and, more generally, need more ergonomics or complexity ( user experience ) beyond measure. The “Lean Startup” method taught me that for an application project to succeed, it is essential to share and exchange with the end user.

And this, before and during the development process. I have now come to present this method, which is widely applied among startups and is highly compatible with an SCRUM project, which still needs to be more widespread within companies and would certainly make it possible to validate the relevance and interest between the request and solution.

Also Read: 10 Brilliant App Ideas For Your Startup

Discovery Of The Lean Startup Method

The “Lean Startup” method is prevalent in the startup ecosystem (not to be confused with the better-known variant called “Lean Management”). The “Lean Startup” method is used to validate the relevance of a project as early as possible and potentially pivot it in the right direction. The fundamental question that the methodology allows us to answer is the following:

Does your product solve a problem worth solving? This method encourages you to focus primarily on the problem rather than the solution, not directly on the product. In parallel with the agile sprints, the SCRUM Product Backlog will be fed by consistently placing itself as close as possible to the end users and not as close as possible to a fixed expression of need from marketing or project management.

I strongly emphasize this point: agile methods are known to provide agility and flexibility through iterations. However, once your agile sprints are in place, the flexibility and ability to pivot your product will ultimately depend more or less on the enrichment or prioritization of the stories in your Product Backlog. The Lean Startup method can be highly effective in helping you efficiently feed and modify your backlog throughout the sprints.

To measure the importance of the problem or suffering users experience, the Lean method recommends talking with them and meeting the targeted audience as much as possible and as often as possible. Meet and talk with your audience, whenever you can, to understand what makes their lives most difficult during their activities, whatever they may be. Please don’t ask your interlocutors what they want, but try to measure what they do and what makes it difficult for them.

With this quote, he meant that no one told him, “I need a car,” but he inferred the underlying problem: people wanted to get from point A to point B faster than on horseback.

Try interviewing as many people as possible (20-30 minutes each). Iterate and update your pitch as necessary during this time when you briefly present the project to them.

Don’t talk too much. Let people speak more than you and write down anything that might help you identify a significant problem(s). Document your results immediately after each interview while your thoughts are fresh. At the end of these interviews, the guidelines or functionalities missing from your future application will emerge quickly, allowing you to add to your backlog regularly.

How Can Lean Startups Benefit Traditional Businesses?

Companies are factory heavyweights whose cogs and procedures sometimes make them turtles when it comes to innovation. This procedural cumbersomeness often does not allow innovative teams and project teams to meet their users, go into the field, and discover or rediscover the REALITY of their professions. Startups, for their part, have the ability, thanks to their small sizes and their almost non-existent procedures and structures, to be as close as possible to their audiences. How many companies buy young companies that revolutionize the markets with their innovations?

Put Yourself In The Shoes Of Users Thanks To “Personas”

You will tell me, and I agree, that when we develop a SCRUM project for prospects within a well-structured company that has long since ceased to be at the startup stage, we rarely have the opportunity, nor sometimes even permission to go and discuss and meet end users in the field.

Below is a technique that allows you to overcome this constraint slightly: It consists of putting oneself in the shoes of future users: this is the technique known as “Personas.” Used by many design agencies, this method begins with a workshop where the team designs 4 or 5 typical user profiles.

The exercise consists of categorizing and segmenting your future audience into shapes, sorting them by age, social category, gender, function, etc. Depending on the sector of activity of your company or your offer, ask yourself the following questions for each of the profiles corresponding to your audience: What are their main objectives? The challenges do they face? Etc. Below are 3 possible “personas”/typical profiles:

  • Sylvie Michu, 42 years old, married, with 3 children, executive assistant, rarely uses her smartphone and downloads few applications.
  • Hugo Thuriaux, 23 years old, a single student in art history, uses his smartphone several times a day, addicted to social platforms.
  • Jean Dumontreux, 38 years old, married, 2 children, financial consultant, often on the move, uses his smartphone between appointments and travels.

Once again, sorry for these examples full of stereotypes, but you have understood the essence of the method. Thanks to this technique, you can now, in each agile ceremony or functional design workshop for your future application, place yourself and your collaborators in the shoes of these fictional characters, one by one.

You will thus be as close as possible to your potential users when you design your application, and you can apply “Lean Startup” practices without leaving your office. You will quickly notice that this exercise will help you think about “use” and “ergonomics” first. With this, you will significantly increase user adoption and retention upon product release.

The Lean Startup Canvas To Secure The Foundations Of The Project

Earlier in the article, I cited the conflicts of interest between the different actors and departments surrounding a project. Below is an excellent way to avoid tensions by determining very early on a standard definition of the project shared by all the entities and departments of your organization.

The idea is to bring together, around the same table, the leading players from each department through a 3-hour workshop/workshop and have them work on creating a “Lean Canvas.”

The Lean canvas, used by all practitioners of the “Lean Startup” methodology, consists of one page and helps to describe and define all facets of a digital project.

The communication, deployment, and marketing aspects are considered, giving all project stakeholders a clear and shared vision of the future product. With Canvas, you can describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your project idea whenever you want in just a few minutes. The benefit of the Lean Canvas definition is that it forces you to answer critical questions and points, which are mainly the following:

  • The value proposition (Unique Value Proposition)
  • Main features
  • The underlying problem (Problems)
  • The market (Markets)
  • The solution (Solution)
  • Distribution channels
  • Sources of income (Revenue Streams)
  • Types of Targeted Customers (Customer Segment)
  • External risks
  • Key indicators (Key performance indicators/Key metrics)
  • Structural costs (Cost structure)
  • The barrier to entry (Unfair advantage)

As you can see, all project stakeholders are required to answer these different questions. The other departments will thus be able to share their points of view and interests. This Canvas creation workshop will perfectly unite teams and avoid future conflicts or misunderstandings linked to poor communication. To make this workshop more fun, print the canvas in poster format and stick it on a wall or redraw it large on a whiteboard.

Each group will be able to attach post-it notes, just like on an Agile Kanban, and present their thoughts and ideas to the rest of the audience. In addition, the lightweight format of the Canvas (a single page) will allow you, at the end of the workshop, to easily share or update your hypotheses at any time. This characteristic is essential, and it offers you flexibility. Updating the Canvas will be easy if the discussions and exchanges with your audience lead you to pivot your project slightly.

Conclusion

Suppose you have reached this point in the article. In that case, you will have understood that communication between the different departments is decisive in giving a project an excellent chance of success. Communication with your future audience is also crucial to validating prospective users’ interest in your project.

This will allow you to minimize the risks of failure and offer the maximum level of satisfaction to the targeted audience. The “Lean Startup” methodology is a not very distant cousin of Agile methods, and it is highly compatible with the flexibility and dynamics that agility brings to any project. So, mixing good practices from both is an excellent way to give your project the most ideal chance of success.

Also Read: What Is Scrum, And How The Framework For Agile Marketing Structured

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