The Role of an Initiative Champion
In our last post, we discussed the importance of validating new product concepts for mid to large enterprise customers. Validating a new product concept should be done through the use of a special interest group (SIG), as part of an initiative. As each initiative is unique, they require slightly different approaches to managing the process. However, there appears to be one common factor to success: a dedicated resource.
The Initiative Champion is an individual whose sole responsibility is to manage the Initiative through its entire duration. Typically, the Initiative Champion is a product manager who possesses in-depth knowledge of customer processes and pain points. Moreover, this individual should have experience in working closely with several different departments.
In cases where the Initiative involves launching products into a new geography or new vertical, an external resource can be beneficial. External resources provide valuable knowledge and experience to help steer the Initiative to success.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Champion
During the planning stage of an Initiative process, the Champion is responsible for estimating costs, creating a marketing plan, pricing and collecting market sizing data to feed into a financial model.
Once internal commitment has been secured to establishing a SIG (as part of the Initiative), the Champion takes on the role of a Sales person. Selling the SIG is a critical part of the role, as the customer’s commitment and upfront investments must to be secured in order for the Initiative to take off.
The Champion is responsible for overseeing the development process, ensuring that the Initiative remains on schedule and within the set out budget. The Champion will set milestones and deadlines that will be monitored through frequent status update meetings.
The goal of the update meetings is to gather customer feedback as early as possible to ensure that the solutions delivered are what customers expect. At times, it may be necessary to go back to the drawing board, re-evaluate ideas and introduce new ideas to ensure that the Initiative is a success. As such, the development stage of the SIG process is the stage that carries the greatest risk of going off track.
Once the SIG cycle is complete, the Initiative Champion will hand off the sales responsibilities to the sales team and lead the product training. At this stage, it is also a best practice to have an Initiative debrief at the end of the SIG process to go over key learnings and takeaways.
Advantages of a Dedicated Resource
Filling the Initiative Champion role is crucial to the success of an Initiative. It creates an accountable leader for the process, which mitigates the risk of the Initiative getting pushed onto the backburner. It also lends the Initiative a dedicated resource without detracting the employee from their former duties, resulting in fewer disruptions to the business.
Ultimately, Initiatives won’t happen on their own—they need great Champions working on them. Putting a dedicated resource in place to manage these Initiatives will give it the best chance for success.