A few years ago, I started using a technique called Opportunity Assessments as a lightweight way to assess product and feature ideas. Opportunity Assessments contain the business problem/value, target market, opportunity size, market options/competition, timing/window, go-to-market strategy, success metrics, success factors, risks/assumptions, and recommendations. In order to do an Opportunity Assessment, SVPG recommends that you ask the following questions:
- Exactly what problem will this solve? (value proposition)
- For whom do we solve that problem? (target market)
- How big is the opportunity? (market size)
- What alternatives are out there? (competitive landscape)
- Why are we best suited to pursue this? (our differentiator)
- Why now? (market window)
- How will we get this product to market? (go-to-market strategy)
- How will we measure success/make money from this product? (metrics/revenue strategy)
- What factors are critical to success? (solution requirements)
- Given the above, what’s the recommendation? (go or no-go)
The first time I used an Opportunity Assessment was for a project to update an existing product with new data that affected over 20 major features of the product. This project had already started several times before but was unsuccessful. Each time the project was started someone would analyze the impact and create very detailed requirement documents of the product and data changes. The issue with this approach was that the objectives of the project were unclear. The team knew the problem and features that had to be addressed. Unfortunately, the team did not know which of those areas to start on first. The value of each feature was unknown. The team did not think they had to do a deep dive on value for each feature since their assumption was that value and order did not matter because all the features needed to be updated to meet compliance requirements. The project value and strategy was unclear so this project kept getting bumped by other projects that seemed more valuable, had more immediate benefit, and had clearer direction.
After creating the Opportunity Assessment, Business Objective Model and Objective Chain, the team discovered that making these changes would be crucial to continuing to deliver $1.2 billion dollars in savings to their customers. Without this change, their customers would no longer be able to receive this benefit from the product. The Objective Chain allowed the team to analyze the value of each feature that was impacted. This gave them the ability to prioritize the features based on value. Delivering the most valuable features first lowered the risk of not being able to continue the $1.2 billion dollars in savings. Value on this project did not just consider the dollar value; value was also comprised of frequency of current use by customers and potential future use by customers due to industry changes.
The product team then took the Opportunity Assessment to the development team to size each of the features and to give their technical risk assessment. The product team also met with the data team to understand the data work that they needed to do and the dependencies between the data work and the development work as well as a risk assessment for the data. With feature value, development sizing, data sizing, and risks understood, the team prioritized the features based on these factors. In the end, the project was completed on time with dedicated resources and was delivered to market before any other competitor. This is because the business and team understood the value and objectives of the project and continued to support the project strategy until the project was complete.