How Does Your Product Team Stack Up?

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Are you pulling together?

Contributed by Greg Geracie

Have you ever been on a high performance product team? If you have you’ll never forget what it was like to transform a product, service or industry. These are often life-changing experiences for the end user and the product team members.

For the past four years, we have been conducting a global study of product teams to discover the statistically significant factors that differentiate high performance product teams from the rest of the pack. Our database now contains hundreds of company’s spanning 46 countries.

2014 Study Findings

Unfortunately, these high performance product team experiences come along all too infrequently. Consider these facts, since we began tracking product team performance in 2012 we have learned that only one third of product teams consistently deliver value (on scope, on schedule and on budget).

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Additionally, in 2014 we learned that only 10% of product teams operate with high degrees of trust, collaboration and communication – as reported by product team members themselves.

With all of this dysfunction you would think that product team members, who clearly recognize that these issues are taking place as they report these findings to us, would be looking for ways to improve, right? Well, that’s not the case! In fact, survey respondents tell us that only 22% of product team members are actively seeking ways to improve their team’s performance.

It’s really pretty staggering when you reflect on these facts. Product development is highly complex and requires a significant amount of trust, collaboration and communication to be successful. However, it’s very clear that there’s significant room for improvement!

Resources Derived From Past Studies

This is a brief snapshot of the findings detailed in our most recent white paper entitled The Study of Product Team Performance, 2014. If you would like to learn more you can download a full copy of the report. For those of you who don’t enjoy reading white papers (we know you’re out there!) there’s also an infographic summary of key data points.

Want to know how your product team(s) compares to others in our database? We have free online assessments you can take which benchmark your team against others in our database so you can see where you stand. There is one for product team members and another for executives.

Like These Findings? Consider Participating in the 2015 Survey

We just launched this year’s survey instrument.

Each year we keep a consistent set of questions for trending purposes. For instance, product development adoption rates for various methodologies. This allows us to reflect evolving trends. Here’s an example from our 2014 study.

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We’ll continue to follow adoption rates although we have now reached the point that we believe we can forecast how these trends are likely to evolve in the future. While it’s always a bit dangerous to forecast the future we anticipate that Agile’s adoption rate will continue to increase by approximately 10% this year.  We also believe that it’s likely that Waterfall will continue its decline in 2015 as it nears a bottom.

This year’s new questions focus on user experience trends and reporting relationships, the impact an improving economy is having on product team turnover, backlog ownership and much more.

We would love hear your thoughts on these subjects – the annual survey is quick and anonymous. You can add your voice to hundreds of others by clicking on this link, so we can keep sharing our findings with the Product Management community.


208377 greg geracie 10 12Greg Geracie is a recognized thought leader in the field of product management and the President of Actuation Consulting, a global provider of product management consulting, training, and advisory services to some of the world’s most well-known organizations. Actuation Consulting provides popular training courses for product managers and product teams and publishes the Study of Product Team Performance annually.

Greg is also the author of the global best seller Take Charge Product Management and led the development of The Guide to the Product Management and Marketing Body of Knowledge as editor-in-chief with MIT professor Steven Eppinger. He is also an adjunct professor at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on high-tech and digital product management.

Greg is a regular contributor to a wide variety of industry publications and a former board member of the Business Architecture Guild. As a Guild member Greg actively contributed to the BIZBOK Guide. Greg has also been asked to contribute his product management expertise to a growing list of other professional bodies of knowledge, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) first ITBOK and the latest BABOK Guide. Greg is currently a member of the IEEE Information Technology Committee.

Sled photo courtesy of G. MacRae via flickr

2 thoughts on “How Does Your Product Team Stack Up?

  1. I work with a lot of product development teams and it’s no surprise to me that most respondents say they are using a blend of waterfall and agile. This is very common. I’m all for adapting specifics to meet your needs within the agile principles, but often a “blend” means that much of the benefit of an agile team is lost. Leaving out reviews and retrospectives, for example, means a team misses out on the opportunity to continuously improve their product direction and their development process.

    One thing I find very interesting in the data is that both agile and blended seem to have stabilized over the last couple of years. I wonder what is keeping the waterfall aspects of the blended teams afloat.

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    • This data is definitely interesting to review. I have also seen the blended Agile and Waterfall approach. It seems in most cases Agile is adopted as an attempt to increase efficiencies, but blend in Waterfall because the learning curve and new ceremonies in the beginning lose too much time when pushing the next effort out the door.

      It would be interesting to know if team size and company size play a large role in these numbers.

      Like

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