Every software company must know how to leverage them for greater profitability.
Posted Apr 1, 2007
Software companies have long focused on greater development efficiencies through the implementation of software tools and processes that enable them to get products to market faster, in a more directed and accountable fashion, and therefore at a lower cost. Requirement management solutions, particularly those that are designed for the software product management process, allow software companies to operate like other data and research-intensive industries, and help them avoid spending millions of dollars developing products that may or may not meet a specific market need.
Planning the Right Product, at the Right Time, for the Right Market
A growing list of distractions contribute to effective requirements and functional product focus; these include the globalization of markets, increases in communication media, a growing competitive landscape, the demands of client specification, and the constantly changing technology landscape. These sources of information can cloud the establishment of key functional products.
Born from development requirement management and CRM, requirement management solutions that are designed specifically for software product management have emerged as a new breed of integrated software. These software product management solutions are designed to streamline the data gathering and clarification processes of market feedback, and maximize the time spent identifying patterns of use, profitability, and overall competitiveness.
Profit in the Balance
Product management, a key function in any software organization, is responsible for converting customer and market data into the key requirements that balance and prioritize product road maps. Product management teams are often armed, however, with inadequate tools like Excel and Word and other tools not built to engage collaboratively in the context of how stakeholders operate. These tools often lead to the creation of different versions of the same planning information and actually hinder the product management process.
A fine balance exists between the drivers for investing in new business areas, innovating within current markets, and satisfying existing customer segments. For many companies, the time spent collecting the supporting data comes at the expense of establishing the optimal set of requirements.
All too often, the intent, priority, and scope of features and requirements are not fully understood or communicated--and the consequences can be devastating. For example, without a clear understanding of features, expectations can go unmet with stakeholders, development costs can increase, and product delivery can be delayed, all of which results in less usable, less needed, and ultimately less profitable products.
The costs of rectifying poor products lie not just in the cost of redevelopment, but also in the loss of market confidence, which can result in lost sales, client references, and overall profitability. By involving a broader set of stakeholders in the software product management road map and establishing a solid product management process, many of these revenue and cost effects can be addressed and avoided at the onset.
Fortunately, new requirement management solutions have emerged that enable product management teams to encourage the transparent involvement of all parties at each stage of the product planning process, increasing the percentage of requirements that are built correctly, are used successfully, and improve the scope of balanced and profitable road maps.
It Takes a Village to Develop a Profitable Product
A software product management team's core mission is to deliver products that customers want and that are mapped to the advancing corporate strategy, but the team typically find itself measured indirectly by items that are out of its control, such as release timings and revenue numbers. Today, product management teams no longer operate independently, but rather as a shared function across all stakeholders in order to promote greater corporatewide efficiencies. Requirement management tools that are designed specifically for software product management present clear choices, trade-offs, and options to the executive and management teams. The profitability of the products is a key measure of success, and focused road maps, clarity of stakeholder requirements, and release efficiency contribute to this success.
About the Author
Rene Bellei is president and CEO of Ryman Technology Solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit www.featureplan.com.