Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Writing Requirements for innovative IoT Products - Part 1

Thanks to the growing interest in the Internet of Things (IoT), I was inspired to write this blog to show one way to manage these requirements in an agile fashion.  Being the good product owner's we are, we will have done due diligence on the technology being used and the steps to making a thing enabled for connectivity to the internet, (recommend lynda.com IoT) Then balance your business and product knowledge to craft valuable sized-right chunks of work.

I have always been a huge fan of connected car technology since I can remember so I am going to make this example exercise fun by writing requirements for the following product vision statement:
Improve the transporting experience for people with long commutes during high traffic volumes.  As a car manufacturer and technology company, we believe it is our responsibility to make the roads a safer place and while doing so, protecting your personal information.  
This is a big vision but all the market industry trends tell us this is where we have to innovate so where do we start without established customer feedback?  Lets assume our product marketing manager says the majority of our customers are parents with children, our sales manager says if we can offer more compelling safety features, we can take back the largest portion of lost revenue.  The architect is confident he can deliver any idea we come up with because we are using GE's predix platform and have the best electrical and software engineers on the planet.  So everyone has ideas but nothing to form a product release, so we hold brainstorming sessions with a bunch of smart relevant people in hopes of forming a backlog of features customers will love.

Thanks to excellent facilitation skills, group engagement and homemade cookies the session results in some great ideas.  I want to stress how important this brainstorming session is to the overall story writing creative process.  Record the conversations so you can capture all the everything so later if you want to document more details to your items you can.  Here are the top voted ideas, already prioritized by business opportunity:

  • I want to know if any drivers near me are using their mobile phones while driving so I know to use caution near them 
  • Ability to self-diagnose the most common maintenance issues leading to accidents or break downs
  • Ability to use caution near someone with a poor driving history
  • Ability to park in the safest place(s)
  • I want to stay clear of anyone who just left a bar
  • I want to know the safest route to work and the safest time to leave home
  • If my husband and I are leaving work at certain times, we want to know who has the best route to pick up the kids and who should stop by the grocery store where the items on our smart refrigerator list have the lowest total cost.
  • Ability to know who has a criminal history for violence or stealing cars so I can decide if I want to park there

Our architect takes a look and says a few of these can be done at the same time reusing the same sensors, connectors and fairly straight forward.  He says some of these require us to have our blockchain solution in place to decentralize the network, we decide to plan for dependent features in the next release.  He adds some enabler features that need to be done to help us prioritize the backlog and understand related costs.

  • Ability to decentralize the network to control connectors in a meaningful way
  • Use cryptonets to enable machine learning and make accurate predictions
  • Implement framework for total security of all connected devices
Now that our product backlog has some big chunky prioritized items, we have a story writing workshop with the team and use techniques like user story mapping to identify a minimum happy path of functionality. Our product manager says our product management team can sell any grouping of features, the strategic goal is to choose the lowest risk items so we can demo a working product to our executive team.

Work with the delivery team to sketch out your vertical user story blueprint.  This might include technical layers suchas UI, sensors, connectors, etc.

Stay tuned for part 2 to read the rest.




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