A large technology company with strong research capabilities was developing innovative software in the storage space. However, the productization cycle was missing market window resulting in product cancellations.
Implement a formal product lifecycle management system to improve time-to-market and increase market acceptance of new products.
Recently, one of the company's new initiative that took 9 months of intensive engineering had to be cancelled at the last minute due to delays in launch. The software team was left with not many options for new products. The software organization was mostly made of engineers and technical people with no experience in market management. Senior leadership was mostly focused on fighting fires due to product delays and cancelled products. There was no formal or informal process for managing product development in a systematic way. Customers had lost confidence due to bugs and questionable quality of software and support.
Three possible options for solving this problem were:
- Make smaller 3 month launches a trial and error approach.
- Make engineers talk directly to customers or
- Make products similar to competitors.
THE WAY FORWARD
First, a thorough discussion with field and sales teams provided insight into customer views. Second, multiple meetings with several key customers were held to understand their product development environment, product launch calendar and support requirements. A product requirements documentation process through which marketing team could request and rank features based on urgency, impact and competitiveness was put in place. This product requirements document enabled the software engineering team to reasonably assess development priorities, effort and timeline. This led to the development of a 3 year product roadmap that provided customers the confidence that there was a long term plan to improve and deliver superior products. A core set of customers were signed up to become test partners improving quality controls.
A combination of market inputs, stakeholder engagement, road-mapping, and quality control led to the creation of very successful product launch platform that has since generated millions of dollars in value for the company.
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