Building a Platform – Part 1

Okay, so this is part one it what has already been (and will continue to be) a long running saga about how NOT to build an enterprise platform.

Things are still early in the process and though leadership is violating every best practice in the book, this saga may not be a tragedy. If not killed, this build will be (and is already feeling like) something of an odyssey.

Now on to the show.

There is an idea to build an enterprise platform targeted at a customer segment. The idea comes from upon high and we have been given our (death march) marching orders. Normally, when I am working with an product idea, I want to understand and assess the viability of product idea. Product designers and/or managers will generally start with trying to make sense of the problem the product is trying to solve. For me, I would look to conduct some type of product opportunity assessment.

Why?

Well, the idea may sound great and the person pitching the idea will, understandably, be excited about the idea. The excitement may result in missing some critical bit of information or misjudging completely any number of things that could spell doom and result in wasting resources.

At a basic level, I would want to at least start with developing a value proposition.

A great tool for this is the Value Proposition Canvas. It is a great tool.

Understanding the idea from the end-users point of view is critical. What is the end-users job? What are the pain points? What are that help them achieve their ends? If we find ourselves making assumptions, it is a signal that we need to do homework and research things (more on that later).

This is basic stuff, product development 101. The trouble is, the folks upon high were pretty much adamant against the idea of doing basic homework. They wanted something! What exactly that something is, well, it is evolving.

So, we have been working to build a prototype with our development team without a clear sense of what this thing is. We have tried to story map the platform, but are constantly changing it. It is chaos and poorly planned.

The directive is to build while trying to fully form the concept without any sense of if the platform solves any actual problem for any user. There is no business model, no desire to think about any costs or revenues, how to license, how to sell, or much less else.

A long stream of stuff here. I’ll try to elaborate over time and hopefully use this topic to layout my version of Product Development 101.