Step 1: Determine the scope of your product development system


Rather than think of product development only as a section of the org chart, or as a set of processes, we’ll view it as a system. That is:


The management, ways of working, and interactions of all the people who contribute to the product, from idea to delivery.


As such, it’s rarely just Engineering or a team in IT. The people probably even report to different functional managers. However, they’re all inter-dependent and necessary for the creation of the complete product.


Take a moment to make a clear mental picture of the scope of your product development system — who and what it includes.

Need more advice on determining the scope?

How you define the scope of your product development system depends on many factors specific to your company. In most tech companies, it’s likely to include product management, design, development, and testing for a product line. It would also include delivery, unless it’s elsewhere in the company; the same goes for operations. If you develop software products for internal purposes, the system is the equivalent in IT terms (which means it includes some of “the business”!)


In most cases, the system comprises multiple teams and individuals. In some cases (usually in small companies or IT departments), the system is a single team, but it’s still not only development and testing.


In every situation, the system is a non-linear, whole entity composed of interacting parts whose interactions are critical: no part can achieve user outcomes and move business needles without the other parts. That’s why the model is less useful if it’s applied to specialized parts in isolation (such as product management, DevOps, UX, etc.)


If the company makes multiple products, there may be several product development systems, which might overlap. Focus on one.


Don’t limit your choice to areas where you have process metrics; SQUARE doesn’t rely on them.

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