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Product Investment Decisions: Choosing Enhancements

January 12, 2012|Marisa Kopec

The most prominent factor we see being used to prioritize a feature or version upgrade is ROI; namely, which enhancements will make the most money for the company?

The most prominent factor we see being used to prioritize a feature or version upgrade is ROI; namely, which enhancements will make the most money for the company? However, best-in-class product strategy and management leaders do much more than just the math calculation involved to design their future product or service roadmaps. Here are some tips and best practices to consider when choosing which enhancements to fund for the future roadmap of your offering:

  • Look at the enhancement’s potential impact on customer satisfaction and retention, not just potential revenue.
  • Assess the impact on the most strategic customers; enhancements that will forge stronger relationships with market leaders and the most sizable accounts should be prioritized higher.
  • Prioritize investment by how scalable the capabilities are across the widest set of customers, and whether multiple products or solutions can leverage the enhancement.
  • Gauge the urgency and severity of customer needs as part of the prioritization process, as well as the cause (e.g. restricted from performing a function, cannot obtain the right information).
  • Assess how the current offering is matching up against the competition and determine the unique differentiators (e.g. features, functionality, service) in the minds of customers.
  • Examine the potential impact of technology trends and determine if the enhancement might become obsolete or unnecessary down the road, or might be easier to deploy at a later date on your roadmap.
  • Keep a pulse on industry trends and anticipate enhancements based on changes in the marketplace; enhancements that serve to meet new regulations or prevent risk should receive higher prioritization on the roadmap.
  • Align to core competencies; the upgrade should be assessed not only on its financial merits but also on its strategic fit (e.g. align to the company’s strategic imperatives).
  • Pay special attention to the risks of cannibalizing other offerings, or confusing the positioning or value proposition of other products/services in customer’s minds.
  • Estimate how long it will take to get an enhancement to market. The goal of release upgrades is to drive growth; the faster to market, the higher the revenue potential.
  • Understand the level of effort it will take for marketing, sales and support services to be poised to articulate/promote this new feature to customers. Do not underestimate this factor – the go-to-market execution is the difference between success and failure.

A common mistake we see organizations make every day is churning customer requirements into future releases like an assembly line, without first considering the business rationale behind each investment. Think through these choices using a fact-based standard set of decision criteria for all investment decisions.

Note that SiriusDecisions has developed an enhancement prioritization framework for products or solutions — it’s a best-in-class decision support tool when building the future roadmap for an offering. Let us know if you'd like more information about getting access to our research brief covering this topic.

Marisa Kopec

Marisa Kopec is Vice President of Innovation and Product Management at SiriusDecisions. She is member of SiriusDecisions' Executive Leadership Team and also serves as a Research Fellow. Follow Marisa on Twitter @Marisa_Kopec.
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