Driving product strategy for the world's first converged commerce retail software suite

 
 
 

BACKGROUND

At Infor, the world’s third largest enterprise software company, I was hired to help lead product experience for our net-new retail management and commerce solution.

    Business goals:
    • Net-new product offering
    • Multitenant SaaS solution
    • Deliver a capability and feature set designed for 21st-century retail
    • Expand Infor’s broad ERP something  as a leader in retail software

    The 21st-century challenges facing retailers are widely known: increased consumer expectations, omnichannel shopping, competition from online and upstart retailers and pressures and innovations in supply chain dynamics.

    Infor sought to bring a solution to large and medium-sized retailers that was purpose-built to meet these challenges: 1) provide retailers with a single-source of customer and product data, 2) make good on the promise of cloud-based software and 3) deliver a modern product experience.

    My team and I were charged with defining the functional product strategy for the capabilities, features and user experiences needed to meet these goals.

     

    METHODS
     

    Competitive Analysis

     Snapshot of my SWOT analysis findings and recommendations

    Snapshot of my SWOT analysis findings and recommendations

    To understand the competitive landscape of retail systems, I led my team in conducting a competitive analysis. I also collaborated with our internal stakeholders in market strategy and client success management.

    We identified seven competitors—a combination of direct, indirect and potential replacement competitors.

    These were analyzed across 4 dimensions: user experience and hardware, omnichannel and shopper experience capabilities.

    Ultimately, these findings were synthesized into a SWOT analysis. I identified a positioning strategy and 10 critical product initiatives and opportunities to meet our business goals.

     

    Feature audit

     Snapshot of my team's competitive feature audit

    Snapshot of my team's competitive feature audit

    Looking at the 7 competitors we identified, I led my team in conducting an extensive feature audit. We cataloged over 52 features. These were grouped into functional themes and used to drive our product roadmap.

     Brainstorming how to organize and present strategic findings

    Brainstorming how to organize and present strategic findings

     

    Market Validation

     A market validation session with Infor customers

    A market validation session with Infor customers

    To validate my strategic recommendations and determine our go-to-market feature set, I worked directly with Infor customers and client partners.

    I facilitated regular requirement gathering sessions with our major client partners—Nordstrom and DSW. Due to the broad complexities retail management software, I organized these sessions by the functional themes identified in our competitive research.

    During my requirement gathering sessions, I employed both participatory design and user story mapping methods. For functional themes that were more well-defined from initial discovery conversations, I led with user story mapping.

    User story mapping helped me quickly capture the broad requirements of a feature and mitigate some of the pitfalls all too common in product development (especially at the enterprise level), where everyone becomes too mired in the weeds, acceptance criteria and "the how" before we've even identified the core the problems.

    My client partners left these sessions feeling confident that we were able to see the big picture of their needs and I left with a working list of epics and high-level stories that would allow me to begin estimates, roadmapping and serve as the foundation for more detailed stories during design and development.

     A user story mapping session I facilited 

    A user story mapping session I facilited 

    For areas that were more complex or had broader experiential goals for our client partners (such as a new shopper loyalty programs they were implementing), I led with ideation and participatory design sessions before moving into story mapping. I also employed this approach for functional themes that required bringing in stakeholders from across my clients' organization who didn't regularly interact with each other.

     My team and Infor customers sharing their solution sketches

    My team and Infor customers sharing their solution sketches

    OUTCOMES

    Highlights
    • 52-page competitive analysis
    • 20-page strategic recommendation
    • Led to new org-wide product development process

    Based on my competitive analysis findings and requirement gathering sessions, I compiled a comprehensive strategic proposal and set of experience recommendations.

    These were shared with my division's VP of Product Strategy and Infor’s VP of Product Experience. My recommendations were approved and became the foundation for a for three-pronged product experience roadmap to deliver on our software and business goals.

    Because of the enormity and complexities of the roadmap, I also worked with Infor’s VP of Product Experience to establish a dual-track product development methodology that would ensure we had a process conducive to meeting my product strategy and product experience recommendations.