Daniella Patrick is an Innovation Lab Product Manager at Accenture, which is one of the largest global consulting firms in the world, with clients and partners like Microsoft, GE, HP, and IBM. Accenture now has over 400k people employed, and offices in over 200 cities across 55 countries. Daniella’s educational background is in mechanical engineering and mathematics, and her professional experience includes operations, engineering, and design roles at several startups. In her ProductTank NYC presentation, she discusses her team’s role at their company and how they go about identifying problems and developing solutions.
What are we Solving For?
At Accenture, Daniella is a part of a design team whose primary goal is to research, ideate, prototype, and test solutions to improve the experience of their candidates, employees, and alumni. They try to bring an “outside perspective” to Accenture and work at improving every stage of various employee related processes at Accenture, from candidacy, to regular employment, to leaving the company.
They want the entire experience of working at Accenture to be completely seamless. The company has a lot of separate teams focusing on their own individual goals, but Daniella’s team looks at the bigger picture and works to bring all of the teams together.
Daniella’s team is focused on innovative product development, but many people have trouble defining “innovation” because its subjective nature. “Innovation” means different things to different people. Daniella shares that “Innovation” for her team is “executing well on the right idea, be it new or recycled.” What she means by “right idea” is that the team has to look at their company priorities. For example, one of Accenture’s goals is to recruit and hire more women professionals. Accenture would like to eventually reach 50% women and 50% men, so solutions and ideas that could help meet that goal will get a higher priority over others, and could therefore be that “right idea.” Executing well simply means that they carry out their experiment in such a way that their company and employees benefit.
David Kullman talks to ProductTank NYC about why most projects are doomed to fail right from the very start. David is a Partner and Development Manager at CitrusByte, working with both large corporations and startups to develop innovative software solutions to challenges they may be facing.
IT Project Failures – The Statistics
In 1995, IT spending amounted to around 250 billion dollars in the US alone. In 2015, the worldwide spending in IT was 3.4 trillion dollars. If the majority of projects succeeded, that money would have been well-spent. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Only about 29 percent of projects ever succeed. Of the remaining, 52 percent are heavily challenged, and 19 percent are cancelled all together. What that means is of the 3.4 trillion dollars that was spent worldwide in 2015, about 2.4 trillion dollars was wasted on challenged or failed projects.
David goes on to explain that on average, successful IT projects are 222 percent late and 189 percent over-budget. Plus, once they are finished, most projects only see about 61 percent of their original scope being completed. Projects are taking twice as long and costing twice as much to only meet half of the original goal.
Why your project is doomed to fail
The process of starting a new project can shed some light on this. When the idea for a new project is hatched, people can be excited. Past failures seem distant because this new project seems different. They look for new methods that they’ve heard of and have been successful. Long-term concerns can develop early on, but action isn’t taken due to short-term focus. After the first few months, dates start to slip and expectations aren’t met. People start to realize that deadlines won’t be met and quality is missing. As they realize that it’s too late to fix things in the original timeframe, panic sets in. Eventually, the project fails despite new and improved methods and technology. To back this up, a study by IBM showed that 54 percent of projects fail because of project management, while only 3 percent fail due to technical issues.
Vivek Bedi is the Head of Product at LearnVest. He has over 15 years’ product management experience, working for companies like Goldman Sachs, Sterling Backcheck, and now LearnVest. In his presentation, talks about LearnVest, the role of a product manager, and what he’s learned from his years as a product manager.
A Great Product Manager
Vivek believes a huge part of being a product manager is being a strategic thinker. A product manager, he says, needs to have a vision and roadmap. He also likes to refer to product managers as storytellers. Telling your product’s story is a great way to sell it to potential clients.
An Awesome Product Manager
Creating a great product means understanding and keeping up with the changing tech industry. It means understanding the details of your product, and appreciating how those details came together to form your product. It also means treating your internal tech team as key partners, just as the rest of your team is.
Vivek has learned that while being technical empowers you as a product manager, you are not responsible for building the technology. You are a partner and voice for the people who dobuild it. You need to make yourself relatable and available to them, but you can’t forget about your other responsibilities. You need to understand the technology, but you need to let your technology team build the product.
Sunil Parekh was previously VP of Product Management at Truveris – a healthcare startup based out of New York City. At the time of his talk, they worked primarily in the pharmacy benefit space, helping employers save money on costs of prescriptions, creating marketplaces for pharmacy benefits management, and developing tools for consumers to save money on prescriptions.
In the start of his presentation at ProductTank NYC, he further breaks down his experience by listing some of the professional roles he’s played, like Lab Researcher, R&D Engineer, Product Manager, and Startup Advisor. Reflecting on his wide array of prior experience, he quotes Steve Jobs, saying that “if you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” He thinks is very important to be constantly be challenging yourself and going outside of your comfort zone, because that is the best way to learn and improve. He has used this mindset to get him to where he is today.
Sunil’s job on Paper
Being primarily involved in product management, his duties fall right in the middle of the customer-technology-business venn diagram. His tasks included understanding customer needs, researching industry trends and competition, training and coaching product managers, and guiding market and sales efforts. Sunil goes on to say that his day-to-day operations can be described somewhat differently. His job mostly entailed organizing meetings and ensuring communication between teams that normally wouldn’t be involved with each other, conflict resolution, heavy research and detective work, and managing the executive team and board and giving presentations.