Launch a Product – Step 1: Define it
Today starts a series of blogs on launching a product. If you have heard me speak or been around me for 10 minutes, then you have heard me say that we recently launched 6 products in less than 3 years. I talk about it so much because I am so proud of this organization for accomplishing such an awesome feat. What does it take to launch a product? You have to define it. That sounds pretty basic, huh? Who would have a product that they couldn’t define? But the devil is in the details and there are several ways that products need to be defined. Let’s look at the nuances to better understand why this is harder than it looks.
Define for IT (Engineering)
You have to articulate each feature in detail so IT (Engineering) knows what to build. This could be a prioritized list of 10-15 things or perhaps 100 small features. The point is that Product and IT need to be on the same page as to the critical features, and what are the nice additions to be added, time and resources permitting. But for product management, the product definition doesn’t end there.
Define for Marketing & Sales
What are the use cases for this product? Who is the buyer? How are they likely to buy? If your product has 100 small features, you probably don’t want to roll it out that way. It might make sense to group these features into ‘buyable sets.’ For example, the basic package could consist of 60 small features, while the silver package has those 60 + another 10 features and the gold packages has those 70 features + another 10. Then the remaining 20 small features can be purchased ala carte. Or the features might be associated with different buyers. For example, the Supply Chain buyer needs 50 features and the Warehouse manager needs 40 features, some of which overlap with the Supply Chain buyer, some of which are unique. The Shipping manager needs a different grouping of 40 features and so on. Product Management needs to understand how to group the features into sellable units. This is critical especially when it comes to marketing materials and sales enablement. A complicated product with too many options can overwhelm a sales person to the point that they ignore it. Complicated products are challenging when it comes to value propositions and points of differentiation. If product management can define the product around use cases and buyers, the Go to Market plan can come together easily.
Define for Pricing & Contracts
This requires a different level of product definition. Some features group together because of certain contractual language. “If you buy any of these features, you need to sign a specific addendum.” Some features group together because of the way they are priced. “Any one of these types of features is charged by transaction.”
Sometimes people who aren’t in Product Management think that defining a product is easy and straight-forward. I mean, how hard can it be? Those of us that live (and love) Product Management know that sometimes the easiest questions are the hardest to answer. How do you define this product? Well, pull up a chair and let me tell you….
The second blog in this series involves Pricing. Hope you enjoy.
Originally posted on a now defunct site on 3/19/13