Companies work hard day in and day out to carve out one marvelous piece of technology solution that will change their fortune. They give in over 100% for a path breaking product to mark their presence in market place. Yet most of them fail and many just manage to float. The success rate of new launched products globally is said to be less than 5%. Marketing has four Ps, Product, Pricing, Place and Promotion, of which the first P is core to the success of other three Ps. It is the responsibility of a product owner to lay utmost emphasis on this P, which is his product and all tasks associated to the Product. In this post, let us talk about the first P and in that, let us limit our scope to the software products. The attempt is to identify the critical aspects of a product that a customer would and should emphasis while evaluating a product for his or her need(s).
Core Values: All benefits of a product to its buyer translate to one of the two fundamental needs of the product, both linked to Return on Investment (ROI). The product should, either help in increasing revenue, i.e. Top Line OR / AND should help in reducing cost by saving $s which eventually helps in improving bottom line.
read more on feature categorization on While you add new feature…..
Pre-Sales & Post-Sales Experience: While some of the items mentioned here are co-owned by Product Owners (or in some cases not at all owned by product owner), it is imperative for a product owner to have a decisive influence on these subjects as they influence the buying decision of the customer, and eventually the success of the product.
- Buying experience: A product demonstration kit / set-up highlighting key features and value adds of your product is of paramount importance. This should showcase your product as a good fit to customers requirements. The software should have a provision to offer a trial account to your prospect along with a technical support executive during the trial period. A well authored product collateral speaking about benefits and competing advantages of product will definitely help.
- SLAs: This is most likely to influence customer’s decision making. SLAs should be well defined, articulated and unambiguous. SLAs must speak out commitments loud enough for the customer to notice them without any struggle.
- Commissioning experience: Product Installation and / or configuration should be smooth. Plan out a comprehensive training for your users. Ensure that the customer is satisfied with customization levels, and training provided to it’s users.
- Exit policy: Most likely a smart purchaser is going to discuss this at the time of sales. Under whatsoever circumstances, if your customer decides to part away with you, the DE-commissioning experience should be as smooth as possible. Offer him data migration to an alternate solution or to a standard format or offer him back-up plans that ensures smooth operations. It is a good idea to offer services for 2 to 3 months in spotting lost data or ambiguous data.
Product Versatility: A good software product will have to score high on the following attributes.
- Feature set: Feature completeness has higher importance than a complete features set. Focus on end-to-end feature implementation, incorporate various possible scenarios and do take care of negative scenarios. When compared with a competing product, your product should have more number of √ and lesser number of x.
- User Experience: Neat and crisp implementation of UI features, icons and objects are a must. User should not struggle to locate information on the screen. If user is performing an action or configuring something, the UI must lead him to the next step.
- Platform support: Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS and whatsoever that comes up. Try and build platform support which are critical for the domain in which your product is operating.
- Upgrades and roll-back: Product upgrades should be seamless without having a need for a reboot or long shut-down hours. Also upgrades should not end-up shocking your users, it should do minimal possible changes to user settings and user data. Large UI changes are unwelcome and so are new icons. In same lines, ensure zero loss roll-back in-case upgrades have failed or failed to satisfy any specific requirement. Roll-back should take user to previous version without any data loss.
Introspection for product managers Are you going feature crazy?
Non-functional aspects: These are important and should be considered at Product Architecture level, again not something that is purely and solely owned by product owner but a product owners must have decisive influence on these aspects.
- Security: Encrypt critical data, implement a Role Based Access Control and maintain log files. Implement higher level of securities (multi-factor authentication etc) as per the need.
- Scalability: Support your customers as they grow. Your software should be able to perform task for 10,000 users with the same ease as it was doing for 10 users.
- Performance: Be better than the existing solution. Adding functional and non-functional features must not slow down the overall performance.
- Availability: Your software could fail due to the failure of hardware (mechanical / electronic failures) that it runs on or other software (OS) or firmwares(BIOS). Depending on how critical the service is and keeping a cost benefit factor in mind, support redundancy on the server, implement high availability and consistency in service.
- Co-existence: If yours is a desktop application, ensure that it does not conflict with any other popular products available in market and are likely to be used by your customers. Be a friendly software and mutually co-exist.
Above discussed points are critical for product success, they form fundamentals of a good product package and should not be overlooked by product owners. They alone do not guarantee success but ignoring mentioned aspects will lead to unfavorable results. The first P of marketing is product owners responsibility and it is best achieved when critical aspects mentioned above are addressed in product planning & design.