Product Roadmap considerations

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Roadmap is a key part of a software product company, especially Enterprise Software (B2B) software. When you sell your software to a customer, it is not just on the current capabilities but lot of emphasis is made on the Roadmap. Especially with cloud based software this is becoming super important, as the innovation and capabilities come out incrementally, in frequent cycles.

In my interaction with startup founders, one of the aspect they want to manage better is Reliable Product Roadmap – to ensure they do not over or under promise.

There are two steps to Product Roadmap –

  • Creating or documenting the product roadmap
  • Communicating the product roadmap to various internal and external stakeholders

In this post, I would like to share some key areas to focus for effectively create and communicate roadmaps that may have different flavors.

Vision vs. Execution

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Logically split Roadmap into the above two areas in order to communicate to right stakeholders. One part should cover the Product vision – or even a higher vision of the product segment or umbrella. This would be the driving factor based on which the customers should perceive the product, of how problems are solved today and into the future.  As an example, Microsoft Office vision would be to improve productivity – and how they plan to leverage future technologies to improve productivity. The other part is around the Execution – more of delivery plan, more of product capabilities that are coming in, more of the details. A clear link should exists between the vision and execution – but it is important to have this as two parts.

Long term vs. Near term

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Another important distinction to cover in roadmap is what is going to be covered in the long term and what is planned in the near term (short and medium term). Depending on the product lifecycle – long term could be between 2-4 years while near term can range from 3 months to 2 years. The long term ones are still ideas that has been experimented through some proof of concepts or things that would take a longer term to realize or productize, but they are important innovations or things that are coming to get near to the vision. Near terms are the ones which are almost getting completed or is under development, with reasonable predictability of getting them out sooner.

Rigid vs Flexible

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We live in ever changing world, where priorities keep changing. It is important to balance the roadmap priorities between being too rigid or too flexible. The roadmap often changes due to customer needs not being met, competitive action driving some changes, internal priorities and investments, lack of market for certain investment. On the other hand, if you keep the roadmap too dynamic and flexible, you will lose focus and probably trust from your stakeholders. It is very important to keep the roadmap and investments spread between certain areas where you can be a bit rigid, whereas keeping some open-ended areas for ability to change the plans. For this reason, it is critical to keep the future roadmap not covered in any legal or contractual commitments.

Incremental vs Disruptive

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Roadmap should consist of both incremental features as well as disruptive ones. Often we get into this innovators dilemma wherein the focus is on many minor incremental features that improves the product, satisfies the customer needs, solves the problem in a better way, bring better usability – so on and so forth. But in regular intervals – atleast once a year – its important to think about the next wave, the next big thing and start working in parallel to solve some new business problems, that could eventually eliminate a problem totally. Read my post on “what product are you making – pain killer, vitamin or vaccine” – once in a way you should experiment something disruptive, create and prove , and show what’s coming. Whatsapp is an amazing example of such a disruptive technology – in the past we have seen things like Google, ipad etc which are disruptive. Many smaller, less popular products have also been disruptive. In your roadmap, while it would be hard to communicate the disruptive ideas when they are in Labs, depending on its maturity, its best to prove some of the lab ideas with few handful of customers and validate them with real life use cases and scenarios. For such create /prove situations, a more restricted roadmap with NDAs are discussed with select customers. So use your roadmap to think and cover both incremental and disruptive solutions to problems.

Objectives (the what) vs Activities (the How)

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Product Roadmap is not a Project Plan. Many a times we come across some of the roadmap that looks like a project plan, listing out different activities and milestones. Instead of being a list of activities with milestones, roadmap should lay out the objectives of the product – the vision, the capabilities and the tentative timelines those are going to be made available. This is important because the activities may vary based on the approach taken to a solution but the objectives of the product may still be same.

Solution bound vs Time bound

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Another question that keeps coming back is whether a roadmap is solution bound or time bound. Roadmap is always time bound, as the user of the roadmap is looking to or planning based on the roadmap. The time need not be exactly accurate, but it needs to be indicative with an acceptable minor deviation. Usually indicating a period of short term, medium term and long term with a usual timeline fixed for each of them would be a good way to represent the roadmap. This helps customers plan better.

External vs Internal

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Finally, while Roadmaps are drafted based on common vision and solution, Roadmaps have to be slightly different for external and internal stakeholders – especially with respect to the level of details presented, the timelines and the goals. For customers, Roadmap should address solution to the problem, with rough estimate of the time and the benefits that will bring by adopting them. For other external stakeholders such as investors or partners, it may go further into details of the market potential, and the ROI of investing in a certain set of roadmap items for the business. And for internal stakeholders it could go into more details on the strategy, more specific timelines, risks, competitive reasoning and few other internal only information may be laid out.  Communicating the roadmap to different stakeholders is one of the key. Roadmaps should be clearly planned at an appropriate level of details with each of the stakeholders.

Product Roadmaps are living document and most important one for any product company. Lot of engaged time should be dedicated on documenting and communicating the roadmap.

Wishing you all Happy New Year 2018 !

Product Manager as the Wicket Keeper

 

 

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Wishing you all a very happy 2017, may you get the guts and courage to make the change this year.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of the most successful cricketers is certainly an inspiration for all of us – cricket fans and Indians. While he is a famous and winning captain, probably being a wicket keeper has helped him to shape up his instincts, strategy and execution.

Being a product manager for few years now, I often relate to being a wicket keeper, who really wears multiple hats to help his team and win in the market. Often there is lack of clarity on the role of a Product Manager and why are they needed. In this post I would like to focus on drawing some parallels between Wicket keeper and Product Manager , especially differentiating the greats from good ones.

Pitch reader (Market)

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Understanding the pitch is a key aspect to winning a cricket match – so is the understanding of the market to win with a product. Wicket keepers are great pitch readers, as they stay close to it always. So is the product manager, as understanding the market is a very significant success factor for products. If product managers can read the pitch (market) well, they can certainly guide the team very well to shape the right product that fits the market.

Supporting the bowler (Development)

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One of the primary roles of product managers is to work very closely with development to shape and release the product. They are involved every ball, they need to be attentive to every detail, they need a great presence of mind, they need to keep motivating and appreciating every milestone. They also support the bowlers on field placements – read as key reviews of every aspect of the design of the product. They can give instant feedback and suggest changes, on the spot to ensure success. They also catch to take wickets – similar to some key contributions by product managers on prototyping and closing loop on the product.

Alert with fielders (Quality Assurance)

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Wicket keepers stay alert with fielders and set an example in the field, as well as guide the field on what’s coming from the bowlers. Product managers similarly are one of the initial quality assurance /testers of the product, and guide the QA on how to ensure the quality of the product.

Close to opponent (Competitive insights)

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Wicket keepers stay very close to the opponent batsman. They know whats their strength and weakness by closely following and watching them. This can certainly help share their insights to the bowlers. Similarly Product Managers have to stay very close to whats being done by competition, and how the products they build can surpass the competitor products, by understanding their strengths and weakness.

Handy batsman (Sales)

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Finally wicket keepers can also support with the bat. While they are not the strike batsman, they may be useful handy batsman as they know the pitch and the opponents, and in some situations could single handed win with their extra batting abilities (like a Dhoni or Gilchrist). Product Manager similarly can support Sales to win in the market. Product managers know all the details of the product, the market and the competition – so they can certainly help win in sales. While they are not the strike sales man, they can be an effective supporting person for the striker. Some Product Managers have a very high success rate of closing business when they are involved.

 

There could be more parallels…but hope the above helped you understand the critical role of product manager, as critical as a wicket keeper in a cricket match, and some of the key ingredients and potential contribution they can make to your product.

When we all started playing (read startup), we may not need a full time wicket keeper as someone wears that hat in rotation, but to make it big (beyond early stage startup) you probably need one.

Great Product Managers move on to become Great Product Leaders and are winners….Adam Gilchrist or our MS Dhoni !

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PS : Never thought MS Dhoni will resign captaincy when i wrote this blog post (he resigned on same day when this post was published). Anyway hoping he will continue to be a wicket keeper for a some more period, and great team player 🙂

 

 

3 Levels of Product Training for growth

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You have crossed the initial milestone of proving your product has seen some initial success, covered the MVP and now its time for growth…what is one key ingredient for growth ?

You are the rockstar founder or product manager…you have the urge to be omnipresent in every customer discussion or support call…you do a good job on this…but it’s a major deterrent for growth as you become the bottleneck…

The best solution for this problem is to put together a strategy for your product training.  Based on interaction with a startup growth entrepreneur’s request I had put few things, and sharing that in this post.

I plan to cover 3 levels of product training that I have personally learnt or done over the years to make products scale and be successful, the examples are more relevant to B2B but some of this can be used for B2C as well….

The analogy i have used here is of movies

Level 1 : Trailer – Targeted to people that engage with the Decision Makers who buy the product

Level 2 : Movie – Targeted to people that interact with users of the product

Level 3 : Making of Movie – Targeted to people that interact with administrators or consultants that configure, implement or support the product

Lets look at each of them in detail

Level 1 : Trailer training

This training is usually provided to Sales & Marketing teams who have the responsibility to engage and influence the decision makers, to buy the product. Certainly while the content stays high level , I have come across 3 questions to be covered in this training, that will help Sales to effectively position the product and get the interests

The three questions

Why buy ?  – This question establishes what is the real need for the product. What is the real problem that the product solves and why is it important for the customer

Why me ? – Having established the need to buy, the next question that needs to be answered is why me, why your product vs. other choices available in the market, what are differentiators, how is your product better in solving the problems and other objection handling

Why now ? – Assuming the need is established, and the fact that your product is the best fit, the next convincing part is the timing of the buy. The “why now” training should facilitate content that will help the trainee to engage with establishing the urgency, to get the decision to be made in a realistic time.

Coverage of the content

The content should cover the following to help with the above three questions

  • Benefits – the benefits of using the product , to improve the process, derive top line or bottom line savings or any others
  • Customer case studies – this is an amazing content to help sell. How are other customers using the product, their experiences, quotes, videos and other documents
  • Competitors – its important to know your competitors and how your product differentiates from them, this is an important area of coverage in your training
  • Unique differentiators – the product may have 100s of features, but there maybe certain ones which are the outliers or differentiators, there should be specific focus to highlight these in the training
  • Pricing and ROI – how is your product pricing done, what are the flexible options, what is the discounting policy, how do you combine products , how do you optimize revenue opportunity are some of the things that should be covered. Creating presentations and videos to explain the pricing with examples would be an important tool. In addition you also should have ROI templates that can help sales to justify the ROI for the customer, using relevant metrics that is aligned to the product’s benefits
  • Short demos – 2 to 3 minutes – This is the eye catcher demo (The Trailers), as its typically done to the decision makers, the demo should highlight the most important capability and it should also try to cover the overall value proposition of the solution. Remember this is the main tool that can help sales to create the initial interest or close the opportunity for approval.
  • Role plays – This is another extremely successful way to train people – the role play enacts how a customer facing person engages with the customer, bringing in relevant questions and dictate the engagement style to bring out answering the 3 questions
  • FAQs – you know answers to several questions, but its important that this knowledge gets out. A Frequently Asked Questions document or video should be a must have.

 

Level 2 : The movie training

This is to do with the actual product in more detail on how the users would use them. So this is essentially a training that is usually provided to Sales Consultants , Partners and Others who are likely interacting and engaging with the customer users – both during pre-sales as well as post sales.

Coverage of this training

  • Product feature functionality – going into details of the features and functionality of the product, focused towards customer users
  • Use cases – talk about different use cases that the product solves, every product may solve 100s of use cases, so its important to highlight different usage scenarios
  • Benefits in detail – while you cover the benefits already in level 1, this could further explain the details with more deep dives and examples
  • Product differentiators vs competition – detailed product differentiators, on various facets of the product and how this can help especially to cover the functional scenarios
  • Detailed demos (like the actual movie) – 30 minutes to 2 hours focusing on end user functionality
  • Role plays to explain usage of the product – detailed role play videos or depiction of how customers will use the product or how you can convince the users, for them to become influencers

 

Level 3 : The making of the movie training 

The third level of the training is for the people that engage administrators, implementer, partners and consultants. This covers variety of areas and really detailed and deep dive into the “how to aspects”. This is usually done to consultants , support staff and Business/IT administrators. This training is for mostly people who engage post sales, but essentially they should also have good understanding of the level 2 training, before getting here.

 

Coverage of content

  • How to configure the application, security, data, master data etc
  • How to trouble shoot
  • Detailed functional and technical architecture
  • How to demos or videos – detailed 2 hours to a day or even multiple days
  • Technical FAQs

 

So as you can see, if you can create the above training content and start training, it will certainly help you in your growth endeavors.

Offcourse you will also have to keep updating these content as you enhance your product.

Product Training , these days can be delivered in different formats – in person, webcast or through videos. But its essential for you to understand the importance of this and make it as a priority if your goal is growth

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Write up the Business Plan !

Most of us have read the famous story about Jeff Bezos’s cross country trip from New  York to Seattle. Bezos founded Amazon.com in 1994, writing up the  Amazon business plan on the way. Jeff’s important advise for startup company or any   company is to write up the business plan.

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Now if Jeff Bezos has done it, and become one of the most successful entrepreneur in the internet era, why not just do it ? By writing it down, you will certainly get a lot of clarity and reference point for what you want to achieve….

Here are some thoughts of what and how should this business plan be written to become a continuous reference point for your startup and growth story. The examples and references of this is more on Software Products in B2B (Enterprise) based on my own experience of writing business plans and working with startups whom I have mentored, however many of this can be relevant for Software Product in B2C (consumer) as well. Also this business plan should be ideally written by founder or a product manager…

What it is and some guidelines?

  • It’s an internal and confidential write-up – Don’t confuse it with presentations and business plans to be shared with people who will fund this – that should just be a subset of this
  • Is reference plan, and should be revisited frequently to change
  • Prepare it in word /excel, bit free form with text (power points constraints you)
  • Prepare atleast 3 scenarios – aggressive, best estimate, conservative plans
  • Do it for 1 year (short term – in greater detail), 3 years (medium – bit higher level) and 5-10 years (long – very high level) – Remember Bill Gates quote “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
  • Write it free form, and then organize it later, go through several iterations, review, review and review

Start with a summary:

Like an executive summary, this is the place you start jotting down the highlights of your road ahead – covering Introduction of yourself and the team, your idea, product space, history and market definition (presuming you have researched it), clear USP & value, challenges & risks, and overall KPIs that will come out of the rest of the business plan. The summary is most likely to change once you have written the rest of the plan.

Customers & Personas:

Who are the users, what are their current problems and how does your solution solve this problems.

Who pays for the software, what are their challenges and what are their company /career goals that the software would help solve

What are the financial/non financial benefits for the customer based on using this product or the cost reduction using the software, measured by productivity etc. Can there be a customer ROI estimated

Market:

Define the market category and market size ie today, and in the future that you want to focus. Try to break down into 2 – 3 levels of hierarchy and in a multi dimensional way by Business type /Geography / Revenue potential of customer/Size of the customer or any other business context.

Define the share of the market you would like to achieve of the market size, on key market segments in 1/3/5 years. What’s the customer IT spends planned for solving such problems

Market is the most key aspect that is going to drive you to successful product, so understand the potential market, research and put it in there

Product:

Now on to the product – write up about the product, to cater to the above market opportunity, with lot of details and value propositions, differentiations and what problem it solves.

Whether the product you are planning is a pain killer, vitamin or vaccine

Product priorities and use cases – focus is the key, focus on the key market, focus on the design and so on and so forth…

Product Roadmap – at level 1 (vision), at level 2 (product category ) , at level 3 (feature /function level). Product roadmap is your product in the growth face

Competitors and other players in the market, and what they have today, in their roadmap or what they are trying to do. Your differentiation against each of them,plans to differentiate. If you don’t know it, some tips for this are here

When will your product be available , the minimum viable product and is there enough time to get the baby out ?

Monetization:

How do you plan to monetize your product, don’t build a plan that ignores monetization.

Revenue and Customer Goals – Quarterly, yearly and medium/long term goals, subscription revenue including projection of drop offs etc.

Pricing model description – different options to be considered, domestic vs international, subscription based vs fixed etc

Risks , probability and dependencies to achieve these goals

Technology:

Explain the technology used for the product, how it would scale, Ux differentiations, clear differentiations due to tech architecture, performance, simplicity, implementation effort. Important this is not technical architecture , so keep this high level.

Talent:

What the skills required to sustain the business – development, design, sales, customer support, channels marketing etc. Challenges & risks associated with this.

Identify gap in availability of talent.

Layout if its important for you to relocate to be successful, due to availability of talent. Place is super important for success – what are the options – what are the pros and cons.

Customer support & feedback:

What is the strategy around customer support & feedback, how product roadmaps are affected by feedback. Level of engagement required initially and as the product matures.

Past learning’s from customers, what went right and what went wrong. How was it addressed?

Challenges of remote support and how it was addressed /planned to be addressed

Draw your effort, cost and cash flows:

You don’t have be finance person – its like putting forth your personal finances, or just google for templates  – put together your estimate of people cost, server /cloud Operating costs, sales & marketing costs, other infrastructure cost – space/communication/support/software etc,  any other expenses required to do scale the product. Link this with your monetization plan, to ascertain your overall profit or loss over the years.

As you see above, there is a lot that can be written up – as you write up in detail, your thoughts on what you are setting forth gets clearer….

But don’t worry if what you plan is not exactly how it’s all turning out to be in reality…..but its important to have a plan, adjust it for reality…

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So now pack up and start off on your cross country trip from Mumbai to Bangalore, to write your Business Plan in Bezos style  !!!

 

 

Kamal Rajini Analogy : Entrepreneur vs Intrapreneurs

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There is heavy pressure in our industry for everyone to get on the train of entrepreneurship or startup, startup mode is on, Govt is supporting this, communities are on it, and now even banks are starting fund startup. This is all great news.

But should everyone having a entrepreneurial spirit, become an Entrepreneur?

Not necessarily. Many prefer to be, but different circumstances in career, money , family and culture make them not venture into that. So whats the option for them.

Here is where I would like to introduce my Kamal and Rajini analogy. I am sure most of you know about these cinema stalwarts from south india. They both had a completely different style and both were successful in their own way

Kamal , the startup guy – Entrepreneur :  Kamal Hassan always tried like a startup guy, tried new things, ventured into unexplored territories, ahead of times, reinvested most of earnings in his movies, and his movies (product) appealed to a certain set of audience (market). Lot of his movies were commercial failures when they were made , but when you go back and watch them after several years, they are gems. He is like Jeff Bezos, not caring about short term, about profits, but only the long term impact his movies creates.

Rajini, the commercial superstar – Intrepreneur : Rajinikanth on the other hand mostly went for the trusted entertainers, big banner , big investment movies, he built his unique differentiation with punch dialogues, style and tricks, and many movie themes were already successful themes elsewhere. He partnered with big cinema houses who would bank on him for delivering what the audience wants, a mass market. Most of his movies were commercial hits.

Having provided this analogy, I often can relate to each of us, with an entrepreneurial spirit, mostly falling into a bucket of Kamal Hassan or Rajinikanth – and we can learn from how these personalities carved their path to success for so many decades.

While most of us have lot of understanding on the Entrepreneur part, I thought of spending more time in Intreprenuer journey. How do you identify them.

In a Forbes article, its nicely highlighted as “those highly valuable executives and team members who will perhaps never become a company founder, but who have learned to apply the essential principles of entrepreneurship to the roles they fill within a company.”

 

Understand Money : Intrapreneurs -while do not put in their money into the business, they think like its their own business, and strive to make every rupee or dollar count. Often they are the pillars for success of the company. Also they expect to be rewarded well for this

Idea mongers – Greeehousing : Intraprenuers are often thinking like owners when trying to carry the ideas forward, the ideas never goes away from them, they make sure that they can deliver on them or bring in the plan /action to do it

Into the future : Intraprenuers are forward thinkers, thinking what’s next, not satisfied with what is today. They are someone the founders and leaders love to brainstorm and take guidance for investing.

Disruptive thinking : Intrapreneurs are out of box thinkers, often challenge the conventional wisdom, often carve out the next course of investment

Don’t miss these great articles on Intreprenuers in Forbes and HBR from where I picked some of the attributes.

So in conclusion, Stay happy as an Intrapreneur – you have lot of company – and if you are the owner, please take care of your Intraprenuers  – and think about success of Rajinikanth 🙂

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Should experts be limited to an organization?

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 I am a great fan of analogy, and one of the things I have been pondering for past year or so is comparing our software industry with that of medical and film industry.

In this post, I plan to share some thoughts on how our software industry can consider the evolution of medical and film industry, and probably evolve in that direction.

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In Medical industry, the ecosystem contains Doctors, Surgeons, Physicians, Specialists, Hospitals, Clinics, Life Science companies, research labs and further other associated entities to serve the patients.

In film industry, the ecosystem is made up of producers, directors, actors, cameraman, music director, editor, choreographer, stunt master,other specialized technicians.

Similarly in our software industry, the ecosystem is made up of VCs, founders, techies, designers, product managers, and sales/marketing folks.

Specialization

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One of the striking aspects of the whole evolution is the Specialization part, where medical industry has evolved and recognized the need for deep specialization, and doctors and the ecosystem surrounding have focused on specialization. While you still see some general physicians, we all know who are in more demand – the specialist.

In the film industry, specialization has become very key. Whether you are a screen play writer of dramas, you are specializing in romantic comedies, you are an action director etc. Offcourse there are few folks who are versatile especially in acting, but every film needs a bunch of specialist.

Similarly in our industry, specialization has taken off and it’s a great sign of the industry maturing. We see specialists in design, Ux vs backend techies, architects, B2B vs B2C product managers, industry experts such banking, government, healthcare who bridge industry knowledge with technology, we see further more big data, cloud, database, IoT, mobile etc experts.

 

Should Specialist be limited to an organization or department?

With the above background, the key thought I had for writing this post is how our industry can evolve to leverage the specialist expertise, to go beyond just one organization.

Take the case of medical industry, an important attribute is that the specialist are usually not associated to one hospital but consult in multiple different places. There also exists several communities where specialist come together to discuss the challenges, problems, solutions and experiences in their area of specialization. We have seen several doctors consult with others to get second opinions. The ecosystem is well setup in such a way that its not just honorary service, but it’s a win win for everyone, and takes care of “what’s in it for me ?” very well

In case of film industry, most of the people work independently and come together for a specific film. Over the period of time, many work together in multiple such film projects over several years. There are specialist and actors (not the main heros) who work on multiple projects. Its left to the potential, interest and capability of individual on how much he or she can leverage their time, how they want to pace their career, and how they really are on the toes to differentiate or find their winning formula, as individual or as a team. One of the nice talk you should watch to understand it is when our versatile actor Kamal Hassan spoke at NASSCHOM event, sharing some of the interesting aspects of film industry.

The above 2 industry are a great example for us to consider as we evolve our industry. We have several experts and specialist out there in our industry, but their talents are often not leveraged to full potential for lack of the right setup – they are bound by their employment contracts, or merely don’t have avenues to share, engage, contribute and gain. Most of the folks in our industry land up into mundane jobs, standard career path, leading to becoming some people managers or stop reinventing ourselves.

The boundary laid out for experts is not just being able to do with multiple projects outside, but even within the company many of the experts do not have an opportunity to showcase their potential as they are bound by their departments and hierarchies.

Here are my thoughts on how our industry can evolve around better leveraging specialist:

  • Expert clubs that can bring together specialist by different areas of specialization e.g. by specific functional areas, deployment expertise, industry expertise, cultural expertise, skills – product management /design/architecture, GTM expertise etc.
  • Answering the ‘whats in it for me ?’ question – not to expect specialist to come and engage always for free
  • Employment contracts have clauses that allows experts to do other pursuits beyond their employment e.g. like a doctor who can consult beyond the hospital he is assigned to, experts should be able to consult for other products /projects
  • Creating an environment where its safe for experts to be sharing and working independently to take risks
  • Entrepreneurs to recognize the need for experts /specialization for rolling out products that excel, instead of relying on do it all jack of all – this will drive towards the products that excel
  • An environment or community that facilitates experts to be easily accessible and able to work on a product/project for a given time, including possibility for them to engage in multiple projects based on their appetite …think of the movie analogy here
  • Crowd sourcing for expert skills would be a great way to enable experts to be fully engaged, leverage potential and create more products
  • Mentor programs are a stepping stone in this direction for many experts, we see lot of mentor programs already run…but this needs to get to the next level where these experts contribute more rigorously

 

List of Experts that we would like to see in our product industry being part of expert club, not exhaustive:

  • Ux Designers – Interation /visual design
  • Mobile designers
  • Internet Security experts
  • Product Managers for B2C
  • Product Managers for B2B
  • Product marketers
  • Industry Specialist
  • SaaS Pricing experts
  • Growth Hacking experts
  • Technical writers /Product Documentation writers
  • Intellectual Property Experts
  • Social Media Marketers
  • Solution Architects
  • Performance Optimization Experts
  • Scalability Experts

What are your views on this… can our software industry switch gears to enable experts to contribute more…and get awesome products that excel  …working beyond organization boundaries like a doctor or cinema artiste ?

What you need to make a Sholay?

I am a great fan of analogies and for software products that we make, I always try to get an analogy as we grow through the journey. In a recent post I had shared the medical analogy of classifying how software products can be classified as vitamin, pain killer or vaccines.

One of the favorites for we Indians is cinemas, whether hindi or tamil or telugu, and here is another analogy I would like to share connecting the world of software products – with world of cinemas. We all set out to make a hit, a Sholay !

Sholay

Now let’s discuss what we would need to make, a Sholay:

Place – First thing, choosing the place to make it is very important. In movies, the destination is Mumbai and most of the folks who aspire for film career move to Mumbai, and the next best destination is Chennai for south indian movies. Bollywood gains its name from its global cinema hub – Hollywood in California.

mumbai bangaloreSV  For software products, destination is Bangalore, where many across the country migrate for an aspiring career in software, considered as silicon valley of india. Especially with the software product startup momentum, Bangalore is certainly the place for the ecosystem. Other locations such as Hyderabad and Pune are the other smaller hubs catching up in this front. In the global context, its bay area or seatle in US, the land where amazing software products have been made or being made.

So if you are a startup, start to think and put a lot of importance for where you want to operate. These days Govt. policies also is an important factor for you to seek help for building the products

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But the main consideration for choice of the place is offcourse the talent and the people, and the people who are willing to invest. In a recent article, India and Bangalore took places in top 5 global destinations for VC funding

People

Analogy gets interesting here, as there is always a belief that people with best coding skills can get out successful product. And it’s the same perception with movies where many think a Shah Rukh or Rajinikanth or other actors/actress are all about for the success of movies. But over the years, directors, screenplay writers, music directors, cameraman and many others who are behind the scenes have carved a name and gained significance for success of the movies.

Here is a fun way to connect the who’s who of movies to that of software products, as the goal is here is to establish the fact that “The Team” of people wins it all

Actors – Developers: Whatever is visualized or conceived, comes to life only when actors actually perform the way it should come through. The actual delivery or execution is completely based on what/how these people (actors or developers) really do it. Some actors do it in one shot, some need more shots, understanding the full picture and working with other co-actors. Same is the case with developers who can understand the full picture and do their parts well.actoractress

Cameraman – Designer: Camera men give shape to the movie that gives a visual appeal. This is a key ingredient and skill for success of the movie. Same is the case with Ux designers who really depict how the product should work and interact. Even the best of scripts and stories will not make an impact without a visual impact. cameraman

Producer – Business Sponsor or Venture Capitalist : These are the guys who put the money. They determine how big or small the movie or product can be. They also reap the benefits of the business success of the movie or product. Production houses in cinema are equivalent of companies or venture capital firms. VC-Logos

Editor – Quality Assurance : Movies are made to great lengths, probably for a 2 hours movie, there are many hours made of movie that gets produced. But this gets edited to capture the key parts, making sure the movie comes out in best quality to capture the story and screenplay. In product development context, quality assurance does a similar function of testing and providing suggestions to cut the irrelevant. Especially when different pieces of the product are integrated and tested, it exactly resembles editing. editing

Media & Promotions – Product Marketer : Trailers, promos are very important in exciting movie buffs to get attracted to particular movie. Especially when there are several options and competing movies releasing around the same time, its important to do the right promotion focused on the right audience. Same is the case with products, while you may have the best products, if its not marketed well, you are bound to miss getting the attention. In the current world promotions needs to be across multi-channels. mediapromotions

Screenplay – Architect: Screenplay is exactly what defines the “how” part of the movie and all the details. Few times this is done by the same person who directs the movie, but is different in most cases. Architect defines that in product development. He works on the how part to realize and lays out the path to realizing the same. screenplay

Story & Director – Product Manager (or Project Manager): Director in movies is central orchestrator and often the guy who has the real vision of what he or she is making, works to get best out of different available talent and gets involved in every aspect of the movie. Product manager does this role in product development working with different stakeholders – and key person responsible for success or failure of the movie or product. In case of startups, typically founders dawn this role.director

Movie Critics – Analyst: When the movie is out, there are several critics who provide rating, comments and reviews about the movie. They are key influencers that bring audiences to theaters. Now with social media we see every one becoming a critic or reviewer. In case of products, there are several analyst out there who review and provide comments on the product.moviecritic

Movie Audience – Customer/Market: And ultimately the audience to the movie or the customer of the product consumes and provides their feedback, they are the voice to propagate it to wider (references in case of products). There are different types of audience and the tastes differ significantly based on demographic, motivation, interests etc. Also there are categories of markets for movies – A,B, C city audience whose tastes vary. There are movies that are made in keeping what audiences want and some other movies are made which audience may dream. Products also go through the same evolution, some are made based on current customers’ needs and some are made for the future that customers get wowed, some works well in developed markets, some better in emerging. audience

Each of the above persons may go onto do one of the other roles, or remain as experts in their area. The people associated to a movie or products are emotionally attached to it forever. Usually startups have founders and few people doing multiple roles in the beginning.

Product

The movie – The product

Finally the product – the movie is the output. It can be a huge success or failure. It can appeal to some audience and may not appeal to others. There are few that appeal to everyone. Some become classics, some are short term flicks, some stay for eternity as best sellers. Same is for products.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-indian-cinema-handmade-posters-displayed-as-part-mumbai-facade-indside-kingdom-dreams-its-indias-first-live-image30141091

Sequel –  An interesting point about the market is like in movies where we have seen sequels of successful movies remade with a new flavor, we see the same with software products where hit products get remade with a different theme. And always the original ideas or themes has always a value, but sequels also have good market.

Even if you don’t have all the skills, its necessary you have to get the necessary skills beyond just development to make a successful one

Are your ready in the right Place, with right people and to make that thumping hit product for right market ?

Thing Big, Think of Making a Sholay !!!

Is your product vitamin, pain killer or vaccine?

2014 has been a year of great momentum for software products in India and its going north in 2015. As the momentum picks up, thought of sharing some thoughts on a thumb rule that we can apply for products that we plan to build

Picking the medical analogy, the one way of classifying where your product fits in would be when you answer if your product is a vitamin, pain killer or vaccine – and how you innovate around them.

vitaminvaacine

Pain killers

The must haves are the pain killers, you can’t survive without drugs that cures fever or other painful diseases. In software products area, an equivalent is the automation software that will help you bill your customers, keep your accounts, communicate through emails, build professional or personal network etc. These are very basic, been there for a while and there is always market for these products. But the challenge with these products is that you are not the first one building it and you have tons of competitive products. A funny example I came across when a team mentioned they are building a product for traffic problem that exists in Bangalore, but the how part was not convincing enough to believe it can solve the problem. While the problem is clearly understood, and is a pain, the pain killer solution is key.

Often referred as commodity market, the only success factor here is “how” you solve the problems in a different way, leveraging latest technologies such as mobile, cloud or internet of things. Value of such products, in order to be successful, needs significant go-to-market investment. Nevertheless, if you have found the right product – market fit, there is still scope for this as everyone needs these products, as there is no question “why you need these products”, as long as you can differentiate and sell.

Vitamin

The nice to haves are vitamins, we all know that. You will agree that to sell vitamins, you really need to first establish “why you need that product”.  We do see the benefits, but we can live without it. Analytics and big data products are good examples of vitamins analogy. It would certainly help for your data driven decision making, but you need to convince someone a lot as he or she is already getting the insights in different forms, maybe through a good team that he or she has. But like how we get addicted to some vitamins, you can tend to get addicted to software products that can help businesses or life better. Also over a period of time, vitamins become pain killers as we can’t live without them. A good example for me is Google or Mobile phones or ipads. We have lived without google or mobile phones few years back, but they are no more an option. Ipads is still a vitamin, but still sells very well.

Vitamins need a different kind of expertise in your sales and go to market organization. You need experts to sell these solutions. They really need to uncover the invisible need that the buyer would have and offcourse your product needs to fulfill their aspirations by educating them. Vitamins can be sold at a very premium price if we can convince the customers.

 

While painkillers take care of the visible need, vitamins have to discover the invisible needs

productInvisibleneed

As you build products that fall in the vitamin category, it would be great to see the end vision of these products, and if they can eventually create a new category that can get into a pain killer or vaccine.

Vaccine

They are preventive; they address solutions to problems that exist today or likely to arise in the future. They are must haves, but they get into territory of unsolved problems, so if you have a solution that solves an unsolved problem or even prevents the problem to occur, they would fall into this category. Vaccines type products are real innovations – as they are needed and they can help businesses or improve life.

Business networks are a great example of vaccines, as they remove the hurdles of problems such as intercompany reconciliation or payments by cheques. Knowing your customer is great problem that exists and you want to sell the right product/services, at the right time and at right price based on what customers are seeking. If you understand the customer better, it’s a no brainer that your revenue is going to increase. Next generation customer engagement solutions are a good bet, which personally can fall into the vaccine bucket.  I was super impressed by the Health care cloud mobile products developed by Lifeplot, and many of their products certainly fall into the vaccine category as they can prevent diseases at an affordable cost.

While vaccines are game changers, they also need certain degree of convincing to sell, as the problem is not obvious to many.  One example for me in software products is digital commerce such as web and mobile. There is a huge opportunity to tap into selling in these channels and having products to support them. But it still needs to convince the buyers, as certain level of education is required for this.

Criteria Pain Killer Vitamin Vaccine 
Need Must have – Visible Nice to have – invisible Must have – Visible
Problem statement Well defined Need to be explained In certain cases defined but needs education
Main value prop to sell How its solved Why its needed How its solved and sometimes why its needed 
Sales approach Non Experts but with clear differentiators for product – market fit and lot of investment Experts required to explain value with lot of investment More education required, and once convinced less investment
Revenue and Pricing Standard Premium Standard 
Examples ERP, Emails Analytics, Messenger Business Network, Digital Commerce

 

So where does your product fit in – is it a pain killer, vitamin or vaccine ? 

 

Competition – Research and Share

As we build (software) products, the competition is something that we need to stay ahead of, but how?

competition1

 

Especially building products for different markets, you always have others building similar products for probably same or different markets. There are already established products that you have to compete with, there are other products that are getting built as you build your product, there are new technologies that throw up new opportunities or challenges that will help new products to build that could surpass yours.

How it’s different from services ?

In services business, you just have a few competitors that you are competing for “a customer”.  You know what this one customer is looking for and its often not very difficult to create a competitive strategy. But in case of products, it’s a huge challenge to identify first of all who could be your competitor and if you are lucky to identify all of them, how your products stand out in the market, not just a customer.

So what you need to know to stay ahead of competition ?  I try to share couple of key elements that I have focused on in this area, as part of building software products : Research and Communication

Competitive Research:

competition2

 

As software product leaders or product managers, one of the key activities that we need to be focusing on is Competitive Research.  This cannot be optional and has to be mandatory task with clear deliverables. If you are lucky, especially working with larger enterprises, there are focused research colleagues who track and share insights about competition. If not there are external agencies that you can engage who can research a bit and share insights about competition. But personally I feel that as the product owners, its best for product leaders or product managers to be closely doing their own research as the expertise that you carry or the interest to get your products successful lies with you.

Tools, Tips and Techniques for Competitive Research:

  1. Don’t cross legal boundaries – while researching your competition, one of the most critical and important aspect of what you can find out should be based on publically available information and within the legal boundaries of access. This is super critical, while it’s a no brainer, its best to understand legal guidelines laid out by company and if you are startup, better to get some legal advise or attend a course to understand the Dos and Don’t
  2. Competitors website  – Thanks to internet, there is already enormous information available about the competition, especially if you are looking at existing established products.  Checking the websites of the competition helps a bit, taking at their value proposition and what customers are talking about the products are very important.
  3. Social media – This is an interesting channel in last few years where we get lot of information about the competition. From youtube, linkedin, twitter, we can follow and understand what the competitors are doing, what leadership in the competition are doing as well as some of the key stakeholders involved with the competition are saying. From whom they are hiring, which location they are talking from and tit bits are very valueable information you can know about the product
  4. Community and Blogs – Another great channel to understand competitors is through communities and blogs written by users, partners and employees about the competitive products. There are forums where products are discussed and there are blogs that are written that helps get an informal view of the products
  5. Analyst – IT industry analyst are a great source of information to understand competitors and their strengths and weakness. Its always better to understand different perspectives of the industry analyst. Your product may still not be in the overall review in the space, but you may want to analyze the market potential through whats being said about the analyst reports.
  6. Partners website – partners or implementors of software website is key source of information for research. This helps us to understand products better as partners are typically very close to the products and often share some details. Typically a demo of the product posted by partner is often more detailed and really very helpful
  7. Knowing and following competitor key people – one of the opportunity we have with internet is to know the people better. From a competitive research perspective, one of the important aspect would be to know and follow the key people who are involved in the competition. It could be the CEO of that company, few of the key technology folks there who are involved in the solution area. This gives a great perspective on what they are trying to do and help understand whats in store
  8. Involving in sales cycles – One of the best way, especially if your product is already out, is to involve in sales cycles. Talking to sales /presales as well as customers. You definitely get insights on how your competitor products is addressing the problems. This can also be done by listening to sales calls as well as just being part of some of the meetings or conference calls. Sometimes customers give you direct feedback on how your products fare and at other times you may get indirect inferences. Participating and contributing in some of the win loss analysis can help take back some of this information.

Having done the research, what do we do with this information to use this effectively as you build your products. While you can have a structure way to incorporate this information into your knowledge base, the important aspect of sharing and communicating this information. Often I have noticed that we share one set of information for different stakeholders, which may be not a good approach.

Prepare and Share

1. Sharing with Sales and Field : Sales organization in your company would like to know exactly how your products are better from your competitors products. What is the key value propositions and some differentiations. This could be addressed at different levels, at the overall product strategy level, on product feature /functionality and the fit with respect to solving key business problem in a better way, and based on customer usage.  How competitive fud can be resolved with a capability that exists or likely to addressed in the road map.

The communication here needs to be very broad based, especially if you are selling to different markets or user base. Some                   information of the regional competitors may also be very useful

2. Sharing with Development : Product Development including product managers are very emotional and close to their products and its often difficult for them to digest to hear that the competitive products are better than your products.  But here the communication and comparisons should focus on where the products are weaker then competition, don’t have to be highlighting the strengths but focus on where differentiations can be fulfilled, or how products can catch up with competition. Even an equally good product could be very successful due to other considerations such as price, market and geography focus, as well as mere ability of sales people. So its important to compare and highlight lagging product areas, and get to focus on competitive catch ups or differentiations. Some of the information collected from Analyst could be very useful as it could lead to good insights of competitive products.  All of this information also helps in prioritizing backlogs.

3. Sharing with Top Management: Assuming you are not the founder, its important that competitive insights are regularly shared with top management in order for them to get a feel of specifics that competitors are doing in this area. This will help getting the attention for investment into those areas, potential acquisitions as well as help them engage better in their customer/investor interactions.

Competitive Research and Sharing is a key activity that needs good time investment to stay ahead in the race as make Software Products.

Share your thoughts on other

Need 9 months to get baby out

One of the pressures and challenges of working on products is to get it out soon – the release. But I often recollect one of the leaders that I have worked with saying “need 9 months to get baby out”.

9monthBaby1

What’s the right time for a product release – Some Considerations?

Build for market, not a customer

9monthbaby2

Remember products are not built for one customer, its built for several of them, for a market. I highlight this as especially in India, we have abundant  services companies and people with great experience driving innovations and solutions for one customer, and often the release time for such delivery can be done in a shorter duration as we are working towards a specific requirement set.  Its different to build it for a market or many customers in mind.

Enough research time to iterate

9monthbaby3

The other key aspect of building a product is to spend good time on researching the market, understanding user problems and figuring out what to build, before start building it. In certain cases it could also be some initial prototypes to get the thinking process going. Often this time is ignored when building products.

9 moms cannot make 9 babies in 1 month

9monthbaby4

By getting more people assigned is not the solution to get the products out faster, actually it could be counter productive as there may not be enough components that can be built parallel and also could result in confusion on co-ordination.

It’s not just about development

Many software products fail primarily because they put all the time and effort only in engineering and developing the product and do not plan for an effective early adoption and go to market (including pricing) launch time planning. They consider this as lesser important task and often consider this as a post product release activity. But the market readiness and go to market should be planned well ahead, and enough time to be allocated to early adoption and launch cycle.  The other aspect that gets ignored many a times is user empathy and design for user interaction and interface.

Focus on quality, differentiators

9monthbabay5

Bugs are fine in software, can be fixed is the typical attitude in software industry. But depending on the mission critical nature of the products, quality is going to be key criteria. Thorough testing and quality is an important part and while dates can be compromised, quality should not be compromised as the word spreads if its buggy. Get it out with good quality.

9monthbaby6

Many products compromise on features and differentiators, to deliver a product in time. This again can be dangerous in the current extremely competitive world.

So usually the right time of the release should have key focus on quality and differentiators.

Alpha, Beta….

We come across examples of products that get released to market without alpha, beta cycles – without being taken to first few customers or users to try out. This can be dangerous, inspite of the time pressures or the brutal confidence that you may have about your products and self testing, there should be time allocated for alpha and beta trials.

Rapid release cycles

9monthbaby7

The other side consideration here is that while products have to be planned, it can’t take too long as well. Many of the established players get into this syndrome where they spend too much time planning and laying it out but by the time the product comes out, the market is lost or captured by some one else. This is where agile methodology comes in handy. Products should be planned in such a way that there is minimum viable scope covered coming in from the research and there is agility built into cover a rapid release cycle post the first launch, where more enhancements can be planned, based on customer adoption.

So if you started reading the blog hoping to get the answer on the right time for a product release, sorry for disappointing you. But from my experience where I have been involved with enterprise software products that were built in 3 months, 6 months, 1.5 years, 3 years etc. , some of the above points were the learnings for the success or failure of the product. Plan time for the ideation/research, design, development, thorough testing, beta and GTM launch planning before getting your baby out…

Share your experience or other considerations that I may have missed here…

No. 10 : product manager is for successful products, let’s explore 10 success tips

Keeping with the world cup fever, where No.10 is center of everything for success, thought of writing this post on success of product managers, who are the No.10 for success of products.

Here in plan to share 10 tips for successful product management. This is based on my dozen years’ experiences in the function, working in Ramco, Hyperion and SAP, rolling out both successful and not so successful products, primarily enterprise software products.

1. Network to thrive: product managers most important tip is to be really networked, this needs to be in person in 1×1 and 1xN interactions, through social media and web and with internal team for key influencing, especially if you are in a bigger organization.

Network across

  • Build key customer circles
  • Stay close to Sales
  • Specialist groups
  • Coffee corners and peer to peer networking

2. Communicate to succeed: closely connected to the networking, the success to networking is communicate, communicate, communicate…product managers should constantly be communicating with all stakeholders. Whom

  • Internal – Influence without managing, especially with designers, developers and architects
  • Internal – Talk technical or functional
  • Internal – communicate to executives
  • External – Speaking in events, develop Executive presence
  • External – Speaking with customers/prospects

3. Specialize: Remember product managers are the Specialist…

  • Different levels of specialization – Level 1 across company portfolio and strategy, Level 2 across your product portfolio and functional, Level 3 in your product and best practices
  • Functional & Technical expertise (product managers need a balance and understanding of both)
  • Better customer exposure levels will only be more when you are a specialist

4. Know your competitors: product managers need deep understanding of competitors through publically available…Analyst Reports, websites, interacting with sales/presales, Win stories, loss analysis participation.

Important tip is to contribute to competitive differentiation.

  • Both feature/function as well as more strategic levels.
  • Have different comparison charts, ones for your field/sales that will help to highlight how products are better than competitor’s products to sell and for development that highlights weaknesses that will help better the product or build new ones.

5. Know your markets: product managers do not make products for specific customers, but for markets. So it’s important to understand which markets that you are focusing and understand the dynamics of those markets.

  • Understand Developed and Emerging market dynamics.
  • Understand Nuances of each market, cultural aspects e.g. US: Keep it simple and bit high level, Europe : Get to the details.
  • Style of business function e.g. whether in general the focus market is more result oriented or more believers in process oriented style.

6. Negotiate: Product managers spend most of their time negotiating, so acquiring some tips to better negotiate is very important.

  • Talk like a customer to developer, brining customer perspective and value for every key step
  • Be face of development to sales and customers, and bridging the business /technology gap
  • Build data points to back up every discussion
  • Build credibility across internal/external stakeholders, remember the expert tip which is interconnected to make this happen
  • Talk use cases/real life examples/personas…

7. Senior management buy in : connected to the negotiation, but more important is the ability of product managers to negotiate and influence their management.

Remember it’s not enough if you have great idea, you need to convince senior management

  • Be prepared for a 15mins, 30 mins…meetings with ideas & how it can be monetized
  • Leverage every opportunity :
  • Investment in new areas
  • Convincing to continue investment
  • Strategic acquisitions for fast time to market
  • Managing different point of view – as management may have a broader understanding so you need to think and be prepared to tackle those povs.

8. Spread your knowledge: product managers are the experts, but experts are known only if they share their expertise. Important you spread your knowledge

  • Find all avenues to share your knowledge on product, best practices and the “whys?” more than what? Or how?
  • Blog, tweet, build content, do trainings, challenge yourself against real life examples
  • Drive discussions towards the way you want to position your product
  • Pick on customer advisory board sessions
  • Tell your customer success stories

9. Balance your time: Product managers face customers/sales, development and strategic (with management). Time is precious. Important tip is to balance and spend equal time amongst different or else you can’t be successful

10.Mini CEOs: Finally product managers have to behave like mini CEO, within the scope of the products they work. Essentially product managers

  • Claim ownership – with which comes the responsibility of success or failure of the product
  • Have Business (for sales), technical (for development) and user (for designers) views
  • Compare it with market – and constantly strive to improve or reinvent
  • Know your numbers – important to know how is the business doing and what are financial or other goals
  • If you are product manager or one aspiring to be, the above tips should be very handy. While you may or we all have come across, consciously following this may help, as i have found it to be useful as i practice it in my past years of experience as product manager.

Let me know if you have other tips to share, questions on the above or other comments

Bridging Code to Customer Gap

One of areas I have focused in many years that I have been involved in building and taking enterprise software products to market is, bridging the code to customer gap. This really is the main reason for success or failure of products.

Success of Failure

Inspiration

Inspiration for many of us building high tech products is offcourse Steve Jobs, and here is his take on bridging the code to customer gap

Steve Jobs

Enterprise Business Software vs Consumer Software – Gap is wider

Most enterprise software products have atleast 3-4 layers between the person who codes the software and the business user who uses the product.  Here is the illustration of the chain.

Product Management

Main challenge when we build products, especially business / enterprise software vs. consumer software, is often that we don’t have direct access to what the ultimate business user wants. Here are few more specific challenges that causes product success or failure

Customer side challenges

  • Most people in IT department of customer do not have knowledge of what is required for their business, its many times their interpretation of problem or their perspective of a solution
  • Business users who have the problem does not have time to invest in sharing the same
  • Business users can articulate the problem but do not know how technology can solve it
  • Business users cannot believe that problems can be solved in a different way – resistance to change
  • Business users resist to share information, as it may cause them becoming redundant
  • Business users and IT users have the knowledge of the problem but cannot influence their management to invest the time and money
  • Many business think they are unique and different, and standard products cannot solve their problems
  • Decision makers in Business and IT have different views on priorities and have conflict
  • Cultural differences and perception without objective assessment of problem and solution that the product can solve – startup vs established vendor, geographical boundaries, technology preferences

Product company side challenges

  • Focusing on what customer wants, usually solution provided by customer IT, rather than what’s the customers problem that needs to be solved by the product, which usually needs to come from customer’s business user
  • Carried away by new technology, instead of understanding business impact it can make
  • Lack of adequate specialized skills to build product – architecture, design, product management, developer, testing – assuming having just developers can lead to good products
  • Thinking with a services mindset, basically just focusing and building for few customer requirements rather than for market, especially due to the $ temptations there
  • Lack of understanding of how product gets sold
  • Lack of business /domain knowledge with development team
  • Complete lack of knowledge with sales /presales to show the value of the product
  • Huge reliance on consultants to get the products implemented , to configure and/or customize

Tips on how we can bridge this gap

Bridge this gap

  • Pilot with 2-3 key customers in the market you choose, where key Business person is involved – Get many user stories and business use cases defined from them
  • Identify key people in customer side who has business + IT knowledge or get a team
  • Culture of getting developers to focus on the problem that’s being solved, rather than just getting excited about technology and language
  • Key developers/architect to meet business users instead of just IT
  • Investing in acquiring the functional/industry/domain knowledge imparted to the development
  • Training extensively the product capabilities – Level 1 for Sales, Level 2 for Presales and Level 3 for consultants
  • Training development team how sales happens, who are the target users and what can help sell the product – listen into sales calls, customer sessions
  • Adopting Agile development methodology
  • Building a conscious product mindset into development team
  • Building products that can be managed by business user without IT dependency
  • Adopt design thinking methodology that helps understanding the business viability, technical feasibility and user desirability

Cloud helps in bridging this gap better

The biggest advantage for me with cloud is that it really helps in bridging this gap extensively, as the developer can see how the product is being used, they can quickly react and there is a far simpler code to customer connection.

cloud

Share your thoughts on this and experiences of any additional challenges you have come across or tips that you have in bridging this code to customer gap…..