The Value Of Conceptual Product and Business Modelling

2014-06-10 09.48.43I had a great meeting yesterday with one of our strategic partners, it was a casual affair, just me and their chief architect and account exec.  We were working through their development plans and I was doing a product/strategy review.  One of the things that was worthy of note in the meetings was just how useful it was to create a model in my mind of the product and it’s target customers/business case as the discussion unfolded.  I thought it was worth sharing the (simplified) process:

  1. As we discussed each of the products I tried to structure the capabilities of the product into capability layers, where each layer contained features that addressed a particular area of business need, or a particular customer segment.  The layers were tiered with basic capabilities at the bottom and higher value needs at the top
  2. Once I had these layers clear in my mind I tried to get a clear picture of the target users of each layer and/or the type of business case that we would need to sell it
  3. Then I stepped back from the partners product and imagined the needs of that user segment from first principles, and used that list of needs to test the products capabilities
  4. Next I compared each layer with competitive products that addressed similar markets, testing each layer on it’s own to see if it was competitive and seeing if the combination of capability layers offered additional competitive advantage
  5. Finally I had a think about whether the capability layers made sense in a single product, should be broken into separate products, merged with existing products or dropped entirely

For example one of the products addressed operational effectiveness challenges, for that product I structured it’s capabilities into those that addressed our direct costs and the customers total costs.  I then subdivided capabilities affecting our direct costs into those that would address desired state configuration costs and those that affected end-user support costs. 

Building a simple conceptual models in this way is surprising useful to provide the scaffolding for meetings like this.  It was was an interesting afternoons work, albeit a bit rushed and lacking a whiteboard but it resulted in some good discussions.  I love this type of work and always wish I could spend more time doing it, but it was very exhausting. Despite the nice selection box of biscuits provided I still was so lacking in willpower by the end of it that I had to stop for chocolate on the way home, if I did this every day I’d be twice the size!

The photo today is of my view from the Beach Terrace Cafe window as I munch down my breakfast and finish off this blog post.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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