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Setting a Product Alignment Goal Can Help Your Project Stay on Track

Setting a Product Alignment Goal Can Help Your Project Stay on Track

Posté par Ted Krzyk le

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Guidewire Software products deliver working software out-of-the-box based on Property/Casualty insurance best practices that provide real business benefits with little configuration. But a key feature of Guidewire’s platform and products is that they are designed to be flexible. That flexibility can enable you to extend base product features or design completely new features strategic to the way they do business. But, how much time and money should you invest in changing the product? What new features should you add, and how much configuration should you take on in the first release versus subsequent releases? Many of our customers have told us that they do not want to “over configure” the application and want a way to track the amount of configuration done during the development cycle. The concept of product alignment was created to help customers measure how far they are diverging from the base product as they make project scope and design decisions. Setting a product alignment goal along with your other program goals will help to keep the project on track and provide a way to communicate this to project sponsors.

What is product alignment? Product alignment is a numeric measure used to gauge how closely aligned your implementation of a feature is to the out-of-the-box product. Product alignment follows a numeric scale from 0 to 4, where 0 indicates that a new feature has no alignment to the base product, and a measure of 4 indicates the feature fully utilizes base product functionality.

As you are planning your upcoming implementation, business and technical sponsors will work with the product owner, program leaders, and with a Guidewire Software Consultant to define specific project goals for the implementation. One of those goals should be a product alignment target. Customers can use a product alignment target to help communicate to the program how closely they want to stay to the base product configuration. Many times customers will want to leverage Guidewire Software application out-of-the-box features with little additional configuration to implement more quickly and begin realizing business benefits sooner. Staying closely aligned to the product also helps to reduce the effort of future major version upgrades. A customer with this type of implementation goal may indicate a product alignment target between 3 and 3.5. A customer might set a goal between 2 and 2.5 when they recognize a need to fulfill unique business practices or wish to perform more configuration to enable features which provide a competitive advantage. Product alignment is a key component of a larger methodology concept we call Value Alignment.

During the project Inception Phase, your Guidewire Professional Services team members will help you estimate each story in your release scope in terms of total effort, product alignment, and business value. A baseline measure of average product alignment and business value is taken at the end of Inception and can be summarized by Theme, which is a logical grouping of user stories by business area. Together product alignment and business value measures are used by customers to help make project scoping decisions during the project Inception Phase as well as throughout delivery. The measures help team members and sponsors to have a more meaningful and less subjective conversation about the value of a proposed change and how far that proposed change diverges from the base product. Once assessed, features or user stories which provide less business value and also do not meet your product alignment threshold, should be de-prioritized or completely removed from project scope.

During regularly scheduled project health checks, Guidewire Software consultants will help you to reassess your project’s product alignment and compare your project’s actual product alignment to the baseline set during Inception. We encourage our customers to make the product alignment measure a key metric that is added to status reporting and is actively tracked throughout the implementation. Setting the product alignment goal up front, explaining the importance of that goal to the team, and then tracking the actual measure against the project target, will enable more objective scoping discussions and help you to leverage your investment in your Guidewire Software products.

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