Business Customers are stakeholders who the business provides value for. Business Customers can be either internal or external and are ultimately the owners of the cost/benefit case for a Product or Product Family.
Business Customers own Portfolio Requests that initiate or sustain the development of a product or product family and so are the ultimate owners of the cost/benefit case embedded in the Portfolio Request.
Portfolio Requests are simple expressions of a business requirement related to a Business Case. Portfolio requests elaborate a specific Business Case option with an indication of required funding and technical direction for Solution Architecture within the context of Enterprise Architecture. Sometimes Portfolio Requests will be to change the Enterprise Architecture.
Business Cases and Portfolio Requests are overlapping concepts. Both are essentially arguments for funding. In some organisations these are done via the creation of a Business Case. For very large/complex investments a Business Case may cover a number of Portfolio Requests, or spawn a number of investment options. In simpler cases Portfolio Requests and Business Cases may be the same thing.
Business Customers will be involved in collaborating on the top level requirements for a system, and their top level elaboration into Features and Integration Scenarios, prioritizing Programme Backlogs and guiding Solution Architecture. Business Customers will be involved in verification and validation of major releases, helping a product move up the levels of Done - especially in terms of Business Acceptance.
Business Customers need to refine the cost/benefit case in the Portfolio Request as delivered releases refine estimates and scope potentially escalating to Governance processes such as Continuous Investment Review if variations are significant or outside of tolerance.
Business Customers play an important role in Adoption and Business Change, either by purchasing the product as an external customer, or championing and leading change for internal customers.
Working with Product Customers
Day to day detailed requirements elaboration and prioritization as well as lower level acceptance is done by the Product Customer and so Business Customers and Product Customers must work closely together aiming for common goals.
Product Customers are stakeholders who require value from a specific product or product family. They are typically business domain experts and are capable of making decisions on the detail and relative priority of product requirements. Product Customers perform User Acceptance functions and are ideally real users of a Product.
In complex programmes there may be several Product Customers, and possibly even multiple Business Customers (although we advise reducing the number of both wherever possible) and so conflict may emerge. We recommend use of the Product Forum practice to manage and de-conflict scope, architecture, planning and acceptance in these situations.
The Product Forum is a team-of-teams structure that co-ordinates integration of a Product or Product family.The Product Forum is a self-organizing, often democratic, group that balances competing voices and concerns, owns high level Requirements and Architecture, runs the high level release stream and performing integration activities for the product.
Rather than impose a hierarchy of decision making from a Programme or Project Manager downwards, the Product Forum is a "middle-out" virtual team in the middle of all stakeholders balancing concerns of Product Customers, Business Customers and Business Leadership with Programme and Project Delivery teams. An alternative management structure for cross team working (or managing a large/complex team) the Product Forum can be thought of as an agile alternative to traditional Programme Management.