What is the first source of guidance?

The first source of guidance refers to a documented description of the initial set of conditions that prompt a software/product improvement initiative. This document is the starting point of all software/product development activities based on the Scaled Agile Framework(SAF) process implementation approach.

A first-source-of-guidance document enables a software/product development team to comprehensively define the necessary scope of work and timeline required to realize the desired product improvement, i.e., a product/software improvement roadmap.

First Source of Guidance for Product/Software Improvement

As the primary basis for SAF product improvement activities, market conditions described in a first-source-of-guidance document must fulfill two fundamental prerequisites, namely:

User-centric Focus

The market data acting as the first source of guidance must directly reflect the needs, opinions, expectations, and other customer feedback regarding the product to be improved. This information typically revolves around user experiences and product/software functionality. Such customer-centric market data comes from either an established third-party market analytic platform or an in-house analytic/customer care department.

Depict Considerable Revenue Impact

The observed customer-centric market data has also depicted a considerable adverse impact on revenues generated by a product/software offering. Ideal examples of such market data include significant drops in product/software-specific online sales, substantial decreases in e-commerce site user traffic, sudden declines in-store purchases, and any other statistic representing a present/future adverse impact on product/software-related revenue.

In most organizations, market-centric statistical reports that exhibit the above key traits typically end up on the desks of senior-level executives overseeing product/software-oriented departments. These include the CPO (Chief Product Officer), heads of Sales and Marketing, Product Design and Development, Market Analytics, etc.

A senior executive can then decide if the market report has actionable information, i.e., the product/software-centric market data warrants a product/software improvement initiative. At this point, the market report becomes the first source of guidance for a product/software improvement roadmap.

SAFe Product/Software Improvement Roadmap

As stated in the introduction, the first source of guidance enables the team tasked with implementing product/software improvement to define the required objectives and their timelines. A vital attribute of a SAFe-based software/product improvement roadmap is that objective-specific timelines need not be sequential, i.e., the initial ordering of objectives/timelines can change during implementation.

This adaptability(agility) of a SAFe improvement roadmap makes the approach ideal for addressing the dynamic nature of market conditions. The improvement-oriented objectives that can arise from a first-source-of-guidance document include the prompt resolution of serious product/software function/feature glitches, improvement of customer access to products/software, and changing to different product/software distribution channels, etc.

First Source of Guidance In A Nutshell

A first-source-of-guidance document is the foundation and starting point for a SAF-inspired product/software improvement roadmap. This market-centric document enables the comprehensive definition of necessary measures to alleviate, avert, alter, and manage product/software-related adverse revenue impacts. The resulting SAFe product/software improvement roadmap comprises multiple product/software-centric objectives and their respective execution timelines.

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