In the previous article, we tackled steps 1, 2, and 3 to create a compelling case. Today we will explain Functional Access, another step of the way.
Many innovation projects die due to a lack of synergy with other areas of the company. Therefore, it is vital that the opportunity explored succeeds in all company dimensions – not just in its ability to deliver the project or the customer’s need.
We need to develop a Functional Assessment, an in-depth analysis of the opportunity at this stage. It’s a time to group all the critical areas of the company: Marketing, Technology, Legal, Operations, and Finance to examine potential flaws, test hypotheses, understand the value of the idea and help estimate its potential.
You must make one assessment for each product offering discussed in the OPP Model. In addition, you must review it whenever any functional areas make discoveries that may impact the product concept.
At this stage of functional assessment, you decide on the construction of the case for presentation to the company’s board.
With the Functional Assessment, we wwill be able to make one of the following decisions:
- Proceed with the project and build a case;
- Stop working on the project and put it in a database for reference and future learning. (Knowing what doesn’t work is as important as knowing what works.)
- Redefine the concept of the product based on the information presented in the functional evaluation.
It is important to note that you may not be talking to functional areas only once. Instead, every time you review the offer, you revaluate it with the team.
Check out some general points to discuss with each of the areas participating in the assessment.
- Patents and Copyrights
- Trade Secrets
- Technology Licenses
- Market Potential
- Direct and Indirect Competition
- Potential Partners
- Expected Market Share
- Product Attributes
- Suggested Selling Price
- Distribution Channels
- Customer and Personas Segment
- Communication Strategy
- Market Readiness Level (MLR)
- Compatible architecture
- Development stage and TRL (Technology Readiness Level)
- Potential Implementation Barriers
- Skills Needed
- Complimentary Supplies Needed for Production
- Quality of Delivered Offer
- Confidence in Production
- Volume (do we have enough volume that justifies the initiative?)
- Flexibility to meet product changes
- Potential Cash Flow (short and long run)
- Initiative Risk
- Investment needs
- The total cost of the operation
- Price evaluation and its elasticity.
After asking all these questions, it is crucial to run a survey for each area with three simple questions:
- How secure is the business area to decide on that offer? (1 to 5 points);
- How much does the team believe in its ability to deliver the offer with quality? (1 to 5 points);
- How much return does the area believe the initiative can bring to the company? (1 to 5 points).
The first question will help as feedback. For example, to understand if your work is complete or if the team should drop the idea.
The second question helps in prioritization. It will guide to build of the radar chart to decision-makers.
The radar chart shows which areas the project has the most support or the ones that do not. Therefore, it will help to identify which one needs support and take more care to develop the outstanding points and brings. With this, you reduce project risks, and it will be easier to get the acceptance of the company’s board.
The third question shows how much a particular area will strive to help the project. If it does not see value in the initiative, it probably will not devote itself, even if it can evaluate the offer and deliver the opportunity. The third question shows how much support the board will need to communicate the importance of the project to the area.
It is essential to understand that this step is critical. You are creating engagement with the product since all company areas feel equally important and participate in the process.
It is worth remembering that innovation is an attractive theme and people like to participate. All the team has a lot to say in these conversations, which facilitates synchronization between areas.
Simultaneously, by performing this step in the best possible way, you reduce the risk of taking a flawed proposal for board approval, which could damage your professional reputation.
You should leave this step with an interdisciplinary assessment of the opportunity in which experts in their areas analyze strengths and weaknesses and needs for correction or change.