5 Reasons Tech Product Assessments Fail and the Ways to Fix Them
What value is a product assessment if nobody knows how to execute it or possesses the will to do so?
Lately, when working with leaders inside the product and Agile space, product assessments have been the topic du jour. A potentially great organizational tool, product assessments can help a company identify weaknesses in its product development processes and to create action plans to rectify them.
It's common that product assessments are actually inspired by workers that are very close to the product, witness the issues firsthand and are driven to improve results.
Nevertheless, many team members and leaders express concern about whether product assessments are worth the investment, and what if anything came from the effort.
Why is this? According to experts in the industry, here are some of the main barriers:
Product Delivery Weakness: Many organizations still bring an outdated “features-based” mentality to product delivery, rather than a more holistic product-based approach that includes product vision and strategy. Engineers are relegated to delivering a set of prescribed features only, thus not unlocking true innovation and value. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t know how to address these product delivery weaknesses uncovered by the assessment.
Lack of Will to Change: Some organizations are unwilling to do anything with the assessment, which is usually correlated with their will to change. Even in the best of times, organizational change is never easy. Achieving change in an organization requires a relentless commitment to include people and their thoughts in the process. And often leadership is not ready to ask the tough questions and hear the tough answers that may reveal critical areas of deficiency.
Minimal Department Inclusion: Every functional area within an organization must be included. Most assessments just focus on the operations of Agile, product and technology, and maybe the PMO. Generally speaking, nothing will be easy if you don’t get buy-in from multiple departments from the very start. Not including teams like HR, Finance, Legal & Risk, among others usually leads to a best an incomplete assessment and at worse a catastrophic failure.
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Boilerplate solutions: The content of the actual product assessment often can appear to be an uninspiring copy/paste from another organization’s template, offering boilerplate language and no fresh insights. Yes/No checklists with little or no explanations very rarely become a motivation to initiate change. Unfortunately, some practitioners charge huge sums for this type of unoriginal output.
No Post-Assessment Action Plan: Many times, strategic planning fails because even though the actual assessment is complete, there is little or no follow-up to ensure that the plan is executed. Outside coaching guidance is often the concrete next step needed to eliminate internal inertia.
Each of the above points typically results in a costly assessment failure, coupled with any positive change energy “put on a shelf” to collect dust. Additional costs go beyond dollar amounts but include frustrated team members who just cashed in valuable “trust chips” on what now seemingly appears as wasted action. Few actions hurt an organization more than when the promise of something ends up with zero follow-ups and never results in meaningful change.
Assessments (organizations, health, culture, technology, agile, transformation), no matter the type, are only worth the “paper” they are printed on, and they only result in positive change when they result in action.
However, if done right and with the appropriate follow-through, a product assessment can be a tool that leads to necessary changes that will bring vast improvements.
With that being said, what are the first steps to take? Simply put, cold starts are hard. CTOs and CIOS would be well served to hire a trusted partner that can help them ask the right questions and produce a genuine, customized, actionable path forward with the coaching expertise to execute it.
If you're ready to stand up and take charge of your product assessments but don't know where to start, learn more about how Motion Consulting Group can help you take action.