Last year, a financial technology (Fintech) company found itself in a quandary. The product management team was stuck using an ad-hoc approach to get new products and enhancements to market. Amidst its nearly 100 product managers, the product leadership team admitted they didn’t know what type of framework process to adopt and use. They asked if I could help. Shortly after, a second, company in a different industry sector asked the same. Naturally, I said yes, and realized that these companies would have to take very different paths to solve the same problem.
The projects caused me to pause and reflect. How do technology companies get off track, and why is it so hard to course correct? At what stage should the company begin to use a more formalized approach to get software from idea to market? What outcomes can leadership expect if they make this investment?
The problem for most software companies is how to maintain the initial speed and agility they needed to survive before success was achieved. Leadership will implement business processes to manage cost, risk and to maintain compliance. These processes usually come at the expense of speed and agility. It is not that processes are inherently slow; learning to coordinate with an emphasis on documentation and reporting saps the agility of a team.