I wanted to write a cheat sheet if you will, for my records on what will I consider the factors to take into account while designing/incubating and growing the product or a service:
Quick thoughts on launch: I used to get obsessed with launching, new feature or a brand new product. Over the period, I learned one important lesson, it’s overrated. Most teams nor customers won’t even remember the launch (unless it’s iPhone). It’s important when you are launching in a crowded market, however, product quality and execution will make your product survive or die. When and how a product is launched is a very small and temporal factor.
Here is my pre and post launch framework for crafting a successful product. These frameworks are applicable typically after initial idea validation and this is not, by any means a substitute for idea generation.
Pre-Launch (Design time considerations)
Following list is a good metrics for considering while building your solution for a an identified problem around your value proposition.
- Choice of a problem ( the problem you want to solve)
- Industry power curve: know what industry you are solving for, it is highly likely that your choice of business model will be influenced by this.
- Timing (market maturity): 3 factors, Technology, social psychology and regulations that will fuel the adoption.
- Current level of sufficiency from existing solution: “This is not how good the competitive solutions are”, this is actually the degree to which users are able to extract the value from the leading solution. Less satisfied users create a good room to add value.
- Uniqueness of user insight: You are solving a problem because you have somewhat unique insight and you have a conviction.
- Size and frequency of the problem: Avoid small and rare problems at all cost. This is more important when designing the solution as we tend to over invest in enabling features than core.
- Moats for competitiveness : Overall stock of a)Technology breakthrough, b) data availability, 3) data access, 4) process IP
- Moats for disengagement: You want to design for creating a positive virtues cycles that will create more value (ethically) per engagement.
- The Magic: Every product needs to solve something that is hard and becomes almost close to magic, i.e. it’s core value. Better the magic, better the value.
- User centricity and sensitivity: Think how much it is helping users to solve problem vs demonstration of technology or value to business vs value to users. Think user centric.
- Platforms vs Products: Best of both worlds? – build a narrow use case product based on a generic platform.
- Expandability – hooks for other product ecosystem: Does your company have other products? are you building to bridge the gap with new product?
- Optionality: Is this a product that is better or parallel version of the existing of your other product line?
- Proof of value delivery – Think about the leading and trailing indicator of product success that is adding desired user value.
- Choice of technology – Every problem can be solved in multiple ways and with many technology stack. Think your resources, capabilities, legacy stack and skillset.
- Dependencies – There are 2 factors more important than porter’s 5 forces when positioning business
- Power of supply chain
- Position in the value chain – Direct to consumer (D2C) vs Business to Business.
- Market resilience – How much behavioral change you product is demanding for scoring high on success metrics
- Strategic investments in growth channels and expanding the market: Few things to dig here – My top 3 are –
- Approaching market segments for similar problem (with different cost structure)
- What growth channels are saturated for your line of products
- Opportunities for product led growth
- Acquisition funnel optimization: I tend to approach every product from a service mindset. Serving channel is less important than the When product is in the market it’s an art and partly fun to optimize each channel to maximize growth.
- Distribution development – Product is as strong as it’s distribution a) Partners b) Channels c) platform d) vertical integration
- Continuous improvement to stay relevant:
- Preventing the product from being kitchen Sink (more on this coming soon)
- Iterating and skinning the fat for un-used features
- Preventing piling of technical debt making product more agile overtime
- Technology attach problem – Continue to develop tight dependency on one platform and creating unique point of failures in the system
- Continues innovation – Invent. This is must watch, Des Traynor really nails it beyond product market fit, beyond initial growth. For a product’s survival, its absolutely critical to continue innovation
- Defining exit / revamp strategy – Every product feature or the entire product line needs either exit for revamp strategy. A quick reminder on BCG metrics on how to shift as you execute and grow
- Balancing 5 forces – I am not adding more to this. IMO, out of 5 forces, the 1 thing that stands out most for software products is “Threat of substitutes”. Most problems are not new – most of us trying to solve them with better technology.