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Case studies


Injecting Product skills

Solventure creates software for the supply chain management. Sometimes very technical but always very exciting. Growing their Product and engineering organization they were in need of some product skills to formulate direction in their product portfolio. We helped them out by taking up challenges and transferring our knowledge.


When Solventure knocked on our door, they were ready for the next step in their product organisation. The team already built several products with several levels of maturity, and they were ready for the next step.

For some products they were looking for product market fit, for others they needed to define a strategy for growth. Because of the complex technical nature of the product and the matching engineerings, there was a need for some product knowledge and user centered design techniques to overcome those hurdles.

The challenge was not only cracking those questions but also transferring the product knowledge to the Solventure team so that future challenges could be tackled better.

Learning by doing

Instead of choosing for the typical classroom setting or a consultancy approach, we prefer to get our hands dirty: we dive into these challenges with the Solventure team. From start to finish. Meanwhile we provided hands-on guiding & coaching, making sure we transfer our knowledge to the team.

We started by giving homework first:: Reading books, surfing the web for fitting models, collecting everything you already know about the subject. The whole idea is to run through the process, so you can figure it out by yourself the next time.

We then prepared the consecutive steps and the workshops. In those, we guided the team to look for the right questions and pointed out where to look for the matching answers. In feedback sessions (f.ex. retrospectives) we made sure the gained knowledge got embedded in the whole team.

So what did we do… Let’s dive into it.

Vision workshops

One of Solventures products - The Solventure connector - has already a product/market fit but wanted to take the next step. In order to get all noses in the same direction on the direction of those steps we helped formulate a clear product vision. This vision became the base for next steps in development of the product and listed new discovery phases to be set up.

Under impuls of the CTO and inspired by the “Product Vision Sprint”-concept we set up a bunch of workshops crammed within one week:

  • The homework was research: We collected all info about the current state of the market and product and the biggest challenges connected to that.

  • We got a variety of people involved: sales, marketing, engineering and the management team.

  • We created a user value map to list all strong point of the current product, things we should keep building on.

  • We formulated a list of ‘How Might We’- questions, those describing the future challenges in such a way that they already spark ideas.

  • An ideation workshop helped us to transform the formulated problems into actionable ideas and possible futures to explore. We stole a lot of ideas from other sectors here!

  • Taking the above as input we took the time to write out a vision statement and illuminated it with visuals that represented the product values. (And we were really proud of it)

  • We sent it to the C-level and without further context we tested how clear the message was. You guessed it, we needed an extra iteration on the text and images before we could call it ‘ready’.

The result is a validated and supported product vision document that is the base for setting up a roadmap for features and discovery projects, in the coming years.

Smooth Sailing collaborates, provides the right best practice handles and make you live the required design thinking techniques. At the end your team is equipped to better tackle future challenges.

Discovery process

On another product, the Solventure team wanted to investigate the needs around usage of external data in decision making. These insights could hint towards the right persona, communication and innovation for reaching that product-market-fit.
To figure out the possible value of the product we forced our way into the agenda of CFOs and Business Unit Managers to ask about their decision making processes.

  • Scoping the right angle to approach these busy people was the first thing we did. We went for the use of external data in decision processes.

  • We used the ‘day in a live of’- technique to list all possible moments where external data comes into their lives - where the product could possibly be valuable.

  • Based on these concrete moments in a day and the book ‘the mom test’ we’ve built a discussion guide, a scenario to figure out if our hypotheses were correct.

  • Over the summer we had a very exciting set of pair interviews, balancing the subject knowledge of Solventure with the interviewing techniques of Smooth Sailing.

  • From our transcripts we distilled about a 100 How might we questions. Those sparked many possible product- and service ideas.

The result of this process were a bunch of different future scenarios for the product, a clear direction on what this product could mean in the life of a CFO. In the meantime user research and product discovery techniques were firmly exercised.

The exam

To figure out if the hands-on lessons in product management made any difference we set up a ‘Retro’ with the client, as it should always be. Reflecting on our mutual process and changing what was not working optimal.

From our sessions we learned that Smooth Sailings way of doing Product discovery was clearly understood and taken over by the Solventure team. As a nice byproduct a solid product vision and a lot of interesting insights were captured.
Mission accomplished.

  • Profile picture of Dieter Peirs
  • Serena Yang Product Manager
  • Hannes

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