Faster Time-to-Value With Outsourced Product Partnership | Forte Group

Faster Time-to-Value With Outsourced Product Partnership

This case study demonstrates the outsourced product paradox through faster time-to-value. We define “value” unambiguously as “solving critical problems for target personas in software, while delivering desired business outcomes that meet defined success metrics.”

In my blog post, The Paradoxical Effectiveness of Outsourcing Product Ownership, I argue that outsourced product ownership actually empowers our clients’ product managers with more effective ownership of their product backlog — for engagements when they are already hiring an outsourced engineering squad with Forte. By developing a deep understanding of your desired outcomes (vs. build velocity alone), Forte was able to accelerate time-to-value by a factor of 2x or 3x, as we see in this case.  

About the Author

Profile photo of John Miniati John Miniati is the Director of Product Management at Forte Group, where he leads a team of over 25 highly-trained Forte Product Owners, Product Managers, and UX/UI Designers. He is a growth product manager with 15+ years of product management experience.  As an adjunct professor at the Kellogg School of Business, he co-created the popular Kellogg MBA course, “Product Management for Technology Companies”.  He refined this material to create Forte’s Product Management and Design Toolkit, which is a set of practical methodologies to execute agile and Lean UX in an outsourced environment. 

A Financial Services AI Company Turns to Forte to Accelerate Time to Value

Let’s take a look at how it works in practice. In this case, our client is a Large Learning Model (LLM) AI company that is disrupting the Financial Services industry with their chatbot for providing guided, natural language financial information to investors.  The company was growing fast, with numerous projects in parallel. They hired us for a narrow but important project, to improve the ingestion of their users’ investment portfolios.  


Building the Right Thing First Leads to Value Three Times Faster

There is always a rush to start coding: “Ready, Fire, Aim!” Our experience is that a “Ready, Aim, Fire!” approach is better.  Rather than simply build what you want, we’ll build what you need.  The going-in plan was to start by uploading user .csv investment files and then look at Plaid API integration. The Forte Sr. Product Owner led a 3-week discovery process where we embedded with the client and — as a single team — realized that the MVP was doing the Plaid API integration first.

The net result?

We were able to solve the target investor persona’s needs in one-third of the time, with less risk. Ultimately, this led to a significant increase in data ingestion, user adoption and usage, which were the client’s primary success metrics.

Traditional Outsourced Engineering Can Inhibit Agility

In the typical outsourcing model, the client Product Owner/Product Manager has all responsibility for both product and sprint backlogs. This is particularly challenging in a fast-paced environment like an AI startup, where product practices are maturing and rely heavily on personal relationships and informal communication.

Because it is essential to keep outsourced engineering squads productive, the focus of the client Product Owner/Manager typically centers on managing the backlog. In this typical outsourced model, the agility of the team often suffers, particularly at the beginning when ways of working are being established. Moreover, outsourced engineering squads are hesitant to take risks, and typically do not have domain expertise.

The result?

Client companies get strict adherence to stories and product instructions, which is the opposite of agile. Add time zone, cultural and language differences, and it’s assured that true agility — in the form of engineering creativity — is elusive. When the primary metrics for outsourced engineering teams are velocity and quality, delivered value is often the missing metric.

Outsourced Agility Accelerates Time-to-Value

In this case, the Forte Sr. Product Owner led a three week discovery, where the client and Forte worked together as one squad, to fully understand the desired business outcomes, success metrics, the current and target technical architecture, and other key items. The team spent time upfront learning:

  • That there were two key investor personas, and how each interacted with the software
  • The critical success metrics, which were user adoption and the quality of ingested data
  • That the .csv upload solution was more complicated than it initially appeared
  • That the Plaid API solution was, conversely, more straightforward to implement than it initially appeared

The team evaluated together the different ways to achieve the desired result and decided to deliver the Plaid API first. The result? Working software that enabled a dramatic increase in user adoption and usage. This release led to positive market exposure, including coverage by Yahoo! Finance, Enterprise Talk and AIThority.

All of this in roughly one-third the time it would have taken to build a custom solution.

Forte’s Managed Outcome Services offers full spectrum service including engineering delivery, product management support, QA, DevOps, managed scrum teams, and solution architecture for end-to-end software delivery that is fully managed to meet your expectations.

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