What accounts for
your product offering is the best ?
An effective product roadmap
What is a roadmap?
• Having a clear vision of what the company has to develop on 6-9 months
• Having an understanding of the trends for 12-24 months to (1) direct your reflection upstream (choice of technology platform, strategic relationships with suppliers …) and (2) confirm the existence of the need and refine the business model to develop effective specifications
What is an effective roadmap?
Pragmatism and efficiency, two key words in the management of a growing company! It is in this context that the product roadmap recommended by Product Managers translates into a few well-designed slides and not an unreadable 60 pages book …
For us, a roadmap is essentially two schemes:
• The short-term roadmap presents products to come in the year. It presents the products, software versions and platforms on which they are based, when such information is relevant.
• The technology roadmap sets out a vision to 12-24 months of technological trends and features that are approached on an interval between T0+1 year and T0+2 years.
Having a roadmap essentially responds to three needs:
• Internally, share a common vision and understanding on what the company is working on
• Externally, to share all or part of this vision. With strategic customers to share the vision of the market and enrich it with their own understanding of the market and its evolution. With investors to bolster the company’s ability to maintain an updated vision of the market needs and how they can respond.
Active competitive intelligence
Maintaining a good market knowledge through knowledge of its competition.
Without becoming an obsession, understanding your competition can help you
• refining your differentiation
• detecting weak signals, which sometimes are important trends.
In any case, competitive intelligence should lead the company to copy its competitors. Competitive intelligence is productive only if you can take a step back and invest in places where the offer is worth more or competition is not positioned to build blue oceans.
Marketing specifications and a clear business plan
The product manager can address the marketing specifications for the next generation of product with:
• a roadmap and an analysis of its competition, knowing and understanding your customers – you can consolidate this by making a « win-loss » analysis with the sales team
• a solid understanding of the technological aspects and functional supply
Marketing specifications describe the target market, their needs (previously validated …) and how it is expected that the product will meet it.
The business plan accompanies the marketing specifications, providing aspects of volume and cost / selling price goals.
These two elements are the entry points for the validation by the management of the launch of the project and will be the first product documents intended for R & D.
An industrialized process for product lifecycle management
In most cases, the product is based on a project-client, and was developed as a result of this project.
Switching from project mode to product mode is not a decision taken on Monday and applied on Tuesday. This is a relatively long process, by experience several months to several years, and fraught with pitfalls.
• The first challenge is to make the change in the habits of sale, switching from a customized sale with facilities to a standard product sale is generally complex. It is a period of profound change in which you have to change the way of thinking, without jeopardizing sales.
• The other challenge is to industrialize the product, with its versions, its controlled release dates and the launch on the market. Not a piece of compiled code, but a complete, tested in-house and on the field that is accompanied by all documentation and related services (warranty, maintenance, support, installation, training, etc.).
This is a process that must be defined without being too stiff, too formal or too cumbersome: just as the product life cycle, adapted by Product Managers for young high-tech companies.