Kerry Start-Up 101: Product Capability Mapping and Product Risk Profiling

So your start-up develops products. There is a possibility, however, that your organisation does not understand how its own products actually add value to consumers and even how the products are being used.

Business Capability Mapping

As a business owner\senior stakeholder, attempt to (quickly) answer this question:

‘Can you name the most important 10 business processes that your product supports and can you list them in terms of consumer usage priority?’

If you could do that, you are a rare breed. Now, attempt to answer the following question:

‘If your senior management team \ colleagues were asked the same question, would they be able to answer it and, crucially, would they answer with the same 10 business processes in the same (or even similar) order?

The likelihood is that they can’t and they wouldn’t.

So …. how can your organisation deliver a product to the market if your own organisation does not know or agree on what its own product does\needs to do?

What YOU need to do:

Get all your senior stakeholders into the same room at the same time (I know, not easy!) and agree on the most important 10 consumer centric business processes that your nominated product supports. An important input to this discussion is the consumer viewpoint, which should be clearly understood (either through technical usage stats or other means such as face to face conversation or survey). Assign these business processes a priority (we’ll refine prioritisation approach in a subsequent post).

This may spawn a passionate exchange of views (especially if sales are in the room, which they should be) and as such can be a very painful process. So, what do successful delivery people do with painful but important processes? We do them MORE regularly until they are painless. This process should in fact be repeated quarterly at a minimum. Most organisations attempt this once and give up; their products will continue to fail in the market.

Product Risk Profiling

RISK; noun ‘a situation involving exposure to danger’

If the most important consumer centric business processes which your product supports don’t work as required by your consumers, you’re business is in danger.

Product risk is the measurement of the possibility that the product will fail, i.e. that (a) the functionality does not satisfy a key product function that the consumer requires or (b) the product has non-functional faults in terms of security, reliability, usability, maintainability or performance.

Quantifying product risk is therefore clearly important and many companies, unbelievably, don’t bother quantifying product risk.

Here’s a well established but simple rubric you can use for quantitative risk profiling of your products business processes:

Risk = Impact x Frequency

Where Impact:

5: Business process cannot be accomplished
4: Business process undermined
3: Business process affected
2: Slight effect on business process
1: No noticeable effect on business process

And Frequency:

5: Consumer almost certain to experience
4: Consumer probable to experience
3: Consumer improbable to experience
2: Consumer unlikely to experience
1: Consumer highly unlikely to experience

This allow you to assign a risk profile to your business processes as follows:


Delivering a valuable and high quality product to the market is a costly pipe dream unless you and your team can independently call out the most important business processes with a consistent priority rating. This process needs to be revisited at regular intervals as your product evolves.

No product risk profiling approach is perfect, but applying a simple rubric can prove very useful for informing the journey to understand how your product adds value to consumers in reality. More soon..

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