It is my experience that many companies have relatively relaxed product development strategies. Most declare lofty goals like “delight the customers” or “be the leader in performance” but these statements lack clarity for the development teams that are supposed to help the organizations meet their business goals.
Product development performance and effectiveness requires clarity in two areas:
- New product development (NPD) strategy,
- Product portfolio strategy.
Let me explain what these two concepts are and how they are different.
NPD Strategy is the way an organization introduces new products to its target markets. This is the “how,” and it should lay out, in clear detail, how the organization handles all the tasks and activities related to product development. Examples of NPD strategies are development through mergers and acquisitions, technology partnerships, or in-house research and development.
Product Portfolio Strategy is the “what,” which lays out what the company is offering to its target markets over time. It contains life-cycle of each product, from introduction to market till removal from use. Examples of product portfolio strategies are relevant product families, product platforms for different markets, legacy compatibility (or not), product and service packages.
There are two ways these strategies affect your time-to-market:
- The content of the strategies: For example, if your product portfolio strategy involves inter-dependent products, development teams will have to ensure that a reasonable combination is tested before launch, significantly adding to the development time. Similarly, if your NPD strategy is based on in-house development, your teams may need to acquire new skills for a new product line.
- The clarity of the strategies: Lack of clarity leads to interpretations and filling the blanks. As expected, none of these will resemble the intent of the organization and will differ even within the development teams. As a result, each team member or sub-group will work to a different objective, resulting in frustration, conflicts and significant delays in delivery.
In conclusion, organizations need to pay attention to articulating two product development strategies clearly and thoroughly. Further, these strategies need to be regularly communicated, reviewed and updated.
I hope you find this posting helpful. I invite comments and feedback on my posting. You may reach me by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.