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The Law of Accelerating Returns states that ‘we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress’. As innovation exponentially increases, companies must find new ways to deliver customer value. This can feel daunting, but the good news is that customers cannot wait to tell you about their needs and expectations.

Your job is to listen.

Imagine a world where customers voice their needs directly to you and you seamlessly integrate them into your product backlogs. Imagine customers actively participating throughout the delivery process, by clarifying requirements, opting into beta testing, sharing ownership and evangelizing the results upon delivery!

Let’s explore the strategies that top performing companies are utilizing to improve their intake process and transform their business.

Scalable Intake Delivered with Product-Aligned Teams
Product-aligned teams move organizations from funding projects to funding teams that manage  customer experiences. Product-aligned teams can shift money and resources 90% faster and enhance the partnership between technology and business.

A scalable intake process that supports associating customer needs to business capabilities allows organizations to start small with a few product lines and mature into a robust digital organization.

Automated Intake Focused on Strategy Before Governance
Governance is implemented for the purpose of risk reduction but over time it impedes an organization’s ability to move quickly. Innovation-focused organizations are reducing governance functions and increasing their appetite for risk.

An automated intake process drives decision-making to the right individuals at the right times. It reduces unnecessary overhead and is designed with light approvals to empower delivery teams and allow them to operate at speed.

Transparent Intake Managed by Design Principles
Design principles start your transformation with universal, strategic alignment. They are a set of rules that embed strategy into organization, driving deep behavioral changes and enabling decision making.

A transparent intake process, such as the Ideaexchange, provides visibility into to your design principles, while allowing you to embed common themes into your process. In addition to the increased visibility, design principles are shared with all users as they submit and upvote product requests to ensure intake is consistent with organizational strategy.

Holistic Intake Driven by Continuous Delivery
Organizations that deliver to production often and with an Agile methodology realize value faster, reduce deployment overhead and move towards zero downtime. Continuous delivery models force delivery teams to focus on advanced automation technologies that address source control, testing and environment creation.

A holistic intake process supports continuous delivery by integrating intake with your delivery tools. Customer needs can be automatically converted into business requirements which integrate into your product backlogs.

Flexible Intake Enabled Digital Operating Model
Top performing organizations incorporate these capabilities into their operating models:

  • Enablement Center: Guide quality improvement with delivery
  • DevOps Center: Deliver customer experiences
  • Innovation Center: Experiment with strategic initiatives across product lines

A flexible intake process enables functional groups to collaborate with one another through increased visibility and reduction of unnecessary oversight. The intake process supports realignment of requests to product lines and reprioritization of backlogs for your product owners. As an example, strong candidates for experimentation should be highly accessible for your innovation center to identify and take action on.

As you build out your scalable, automated, transparent, holistic and flexible intake process, focus on a minimally viable product to start the feedback conversation with your customers immediately. Keep in mind that it is a conversation, meaning you must incorporate responding to your customers’ needs into your process. Be transparent about what drives prioritization for your teams.

Organizational experts at Salesforce Commerce Cloud have developed a Retail Operations Canvas, a tool to visually capture the key operational steps involved in establishing a successful retail enterprise. It provides an extended view of the traditional product-centric value chain, and offers a more holistic, customer-focused approach to operational activities, and has been used by many global retailers and brands. Download it today!

This article first appeared on the Salesforce blog