Occasionally building something unique and small for a single customer makes sense. But enterprise software companies can easily fall into the habit of including custom work in too many of their major deals… with disastrous results. This (long) post lays out root issues and possible solutions.
Rich Mironov joins Business of Software Conference in Boston on Oct 1-3 for “What To Do About Your Audience’s Real Roadmap Questions.” Other speakers include Jared Spool, Tania Katan, Peldi Guilizzoni, Claire Suellentrop, David Cancel and Bruce McCarthy.
Individual product managers are focused on their individual products/services, but product leaders need to think about their organizational context: how do we get things done? What motivates each functional group and how do we align incentives? Can we get out ahead of inevitable resource conflicts?
There’s a dog whistle problem with critical phrases that Engineering VPs (and product managers) repeatedly speak but which can’t be heard by sales people or executives: “There is no slack in our development schedule. We’re fully booked.” …and… “If we make this new customer commitment, we will have to pull technical staff away from projects we have already committed to customers. That means slipping project ABC.”
Price lists are never quite current enough, sufficiently detailed, or cover enough of the awkward special situations that customers raise. So, there’s a tendency for HQ product and pricing folks to do a lot of tinkering on the margins with their price lists. We may be forgetting the “consumers” of price lists, though: sales reps who pay our salaries and customers wondering what to buy. Complicated pricing models may be self-defeating.
Every tech start-up struggles to create a roadmap: that short set of PowerPoint slides which defines the next six quarters of updates, minor releases and important advances. Since product managers strive for clarity, having a product roadmap is a critical communications tool. However…