Helping Companies become Product Companies – “There might be Dragons” (6/6 Company Services)

This is the sixth and last post about the SPLSG company services. And yet we believe it might be the most important one. After having seen that it all comes down to having the right product leadership in place, the way we see “digital transformation” is to help companies become true product companies.

Digital Transformation
Digital transformation happens in steps

True product companies understand that their business success depends on creating value for their customer (the famous WHY & WHAT) with (software) technology (the famous HOW).

How often do we hear that product & IT are there to “serve the business?” This might be true in mature traditional markets. But digital has turned the way upside down how value could be created for customers and businesses. In times of uncertainty and increasing digital competition, it is vital to change the mindset from top down to empowerment.

there might be dragons
Beware – there might be dragons…

SPLSG Partners can help you if you are in an ambiguous situation. It is much more about grabbing the opportunity than having fear. “There might be dragons” – but they are not invincible. Read more here. Or reach out!

We are looking forward to your thoughts sent to us .

SPLSG – Six Services for Companies

The Six SPLSG Services for Companies

In a loose series of blog posts, we have introduced our services to the public. SPLSG is not only about product leaders. It is also about helping organizations. Please find a recap of the recently published articles as follows:

The missing last article to be published soon!

Consulting for Product Companies – An Unknown Discipline? (4/6 Company Services)

Everyone knows what consulting is. Everyone knows what a company is. But how about being a product company? And what type of consultancy is needed if you are a product company? Based on the assessment of the maturity of your company as a product company (more details see here), you might realize that you need support. If you don’t know what a product company is, please read more here.

  • Defining your business and product strategy
  • Assessing your current (not only technical) capabilities and defining a plan of how to get to the desired target capability level
  • Becoming/remaining open to change, innovation, etc.

SPLSG offers this company service to companies who want to realize their potential as product companies. Those companies don’t profit as much from standard consultancy as they heavily depend on product and technology. They need a product leadership approach to their strategy and strategy implementation.

Let’s have a chat about your specific situation. One of our partners will reach out to you ASAP. Please send us an Email. We are looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Finding a Product Leader is Hard (3/6 Company Services)

Looking out for product leaders

Product leaders are everywhere. And at the same time nowhere. SPLSG can offer organizations direct access to two things:

  1. A selection of product leaders.
  2. A pre-evaluation of their skills. Because being an SPLSG members is already a sign of qualification.

The SPLSG company service “Find a product leader” is available for you any time. You may want to keep reading here. Alternatively, why not reach out to us for a confidential chat now?

Please send us an Email.

Why Not Hire An Interim CPO Or Director Product Now? (1/6 Company Services)

Interim CPO? Interim management as a solution for specific situations has gotten traction by now. Perhaps not as much in the product management space yet. We are not talking about freelancing as a product owner, designer, programmer, etc., but about bridging a gap in a management role.

Interim Management - Positioning
Characteristics of interim management

Typical company challenges calling for an Interim (Product) Manager

  1. You have an open position (CPO, VP Product, Director Product, Head of Product, or the like), but there is either no final candidate closed yet or the new person cannot join right away and you need to bridge the time until then.
  2. You want to boost an important project and there is a (current) shortage of resources and you don’t want to ramp up permanent resources at this stage.
  3. You want to inject top notch product leadership knowledge to your (product) organization (consultancy & interim management combined).
  4. For all of those, there is a time criticality and you cannot afford to wait:
    • Critical go-to-market of a new product or speed of setup of a new team.
    • Team leadership vacuum resulting in increased uncertainty and people resigning in your Product Team.

The SPLSG Solution

Most importantly, only highly experienced and qualified SPLSG partners work as interim managers for you. SPLSG partners have a unique combination of leadership experience. They have worked as interim managers, freelancers & as employed managers. An example is Jörg Malang‘s career portfolio as illustrated below.

Jörg Malang Professional Portfolio - graphical overview
Professional portfolio Jörg Malang

Our interim managers are typically available short term. In addition to that, there is no need to commit to any duration. It could be for only one day or for a couple of months/quarters. Also, you can have your interim manager onsite or remote.

Please reach out to us via Email, or give Jörg a call directly on +44 7441 392876 if you need help urgently. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Product Company Leadership – What Does It Take? (2/6 Company Services)

Product company leadership isn’t easy. Especially if you don’t have a professional background in product management. This is second out of five blog posts introducing SPLSG company services to a broader audience.

Typically, there are two categories of company leaders:

Either you are “afraid” of all the “tech” stuff like Jira tickets, user stories, roadmaps, release planning, etc. etc. Or you simply don’t want to deal with the nitty-gritty details of product development.

However, this can be detrimental to your success as a leader of a (software) product company. First of all, you need to understand if you are responsible for a product company.

Customer Intimacy as Company Strategy

To clarify what a product company is: “A product company invests a large share of the P&L in IT and product. Such a company depends a lot on product roadmaps, technical talent, etc.” A product company focuses more on customer intimacy than on cost leadership. Coming to customer intimacy is at the heart of product management.

Product Company - Graphical Overview
Product company – generic strategies

Second, you need to get a feel for the maturity of your company. An easy framework for this to start with can be found in this blog post.

Especially in situations where your maturity is low, you need to increase maturity. For this, you have two options to improve your product company leadership:

Either you hire a product leader for your company and enable him/her. Or you embrace the challenge yourself. SPLSG offers to coach product leaders without product management background. We are happy to help you any time.

There is no reason to shy away from product development. It is far better to get involved and leave the observer position. For most people this is a rewarding experience.

Read more or please send us an Email. Looking forward to hearing from you!

SPLSG company services offered:

Interim Product Management – Available Also Short Term! (1/6 Company Services)

Interim management – available immediately!

Interim Product Management is typically only for Product Owner or Product Manager freelancers. But if you as a company urgently need support in covering open hires on “Head of” or “Director” level? Or you need someone to set up a world-class Product Team in your company and then hand over to a permanent person in such a role?

Please read more about SPLSG Company Service Interim Management here.

SPLSG partners are available short term for as long as you need them – please reach out! Typical situations might be:

  • The recruitment of a product leader is taking longer than expected
  • There is a phase until the new hire will join the company
  • An existing product leader needs support with the setup and ways of working of the Product Team
  • Your company wants to push a new initiative and then integrate it to “business as usual”
  • Challenges related to Digital Transformation of any kind

Interim Product Management – Might this be a solution to your current challenge? Then we should talk ASAP! Please send us an Email.

Product company maturity – how to find out where you stand

Product company maturity – a simple way of assessing where you stand. Editor’s note: This post picks up an older post from 2013 :

https://splsg.com/2013/07/25/five-maturity-levels-of-product-management-in-your-organization-where-do-you-stand/

Almost six years later, this topic is still very relevant. Perhaps it is slightly more appropriate to describe this from a product company angle. In contrast to the 2013 analysis, where the focus is on the product manager role. To clarify what a product company is: “A product company invests a large share of the P&L in IT and product. Such a company depends a lot on product roadmaps, technical talent, etc.”

In times of uncertainty, product leaders should step up. In other words, their mission is to lead product companies. If they want it or not. If you are responsible for a product company and you would like to learn more about how to lead a product company effectively and efficiently, this SPLSG company service might be interesting.

Product Company Maturity Level - graphical overview
Product Company – maturity levels

The Five Levels

Let’s have a look at the five levels on the picture above. From “no awareness” to “competitive advantage” there are five levels a product company can be on.

Level 1

The lowest level is simply described as “no awareness”. This means, in that company, no one actually even knows that they are a product company. There is not even the function product management. Please keep in mind that we are not talking about product management in a marketing context. As per SPLSG vision, we are defining product management as defining, building, launching and operating digital products.

Level 2

The second lowest level can be described as “pretended awareness”. In this type of organization, there is at least one product leader and product management team. But the person/team is not working as a state of the art product leader, but much more as a project manager or coordinator. In other words, everyone dumps tasks on his/her desk and asked them to be delivered ASAP. His/her responsibilities don´t include understanding the needs of users. And there is no decision making power on the roadmap of the IT team. The product leader in this organization is not very senior. This role is typically driven by decisions of executives and/or shareholders.

Level 3

Tactical awareness” is the maturity level or organizations who have installed product management on a tactical level. However, the responsibility remains with the upper organizational levels of the company, but the product leader steers product development on a daily basis. For example, a typical characteristic of this type of company would be that the product leader has to ask for approval before launching features. Or his/her product roadmap needs the blessing of people who don’t have a product background or at least a product understanding in the sense of the SPLSG vision.

Level 4

Organizations who have established product leadership on the executive level can be named “executive awareness”. Here, the product leader is reporting to the CEO and is a member of the management team. Product managers in these organizations have a sponsor on the highest management level. There is an enabled product management organization. Please note that having a formal product leader (e.g. “CPO” or “VP Product”) might be possible without being on this maturity level. However, the job title sometimes is misleading. Criteria must be an enabled product management organization as described in the three lower levels above.

Level 5

The most mature level is having a “competitive advantage” as a well-managed product company over others. That is to say, organizations of this type have a clear product vision and product strategy that have been facilitated by a product leader. Consequently, all executives are supporting the product leader define, build, deliver and launch products customers will love. The CDO/CPO/VP Product will support the CEO and the CXO suite. Above all, they all align towards a clear product company vision. The product leader would have a major influence on the direction of the company.

Conclusion

To be frank, during my career I have met only very few mature product companies. Despite the fact, that many people are talking about “digital transformation.” Certainly, we can still observe many companies on levels two or three. Achieving product company maturity is hard. Above all, please acknowledge that being a product company without properly managing it is kind of “digital suicide” (thanks to Daniel Tyoschitz for bringing up this word)!