Site Licenses and Other Real-World Intrusions

We recently finished a major pricing exercise with a start-up in the enterprise software space: tuning up their prices, improving their upgrade model, and looking at alternative pricing metrics (i.e. what to meter when quantifying the customer’s usage).  A great opportunity to match quantitative models against actual customer behaviors. During the engagement, the client’s sales team identified some real-world messiness that we (as product managers) would prefer to ignore: high-end customers who demand enterprise-wide licenses – instead of limited-use licenses tied to volume.  These are sometimes called “all you can eat” or AYCE deals.  Let’s describe the situation, then explore a few of the messy conclusions.

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EOL from the Customer’s POV

As seasoned product managers, most of us eventually have to phase out old versions and completely eliminate old products.  This is called End of Life (EOL) or End of Service (EOS), and is important weed-clearing.  It’s generally motivated by our internal economic needs: rebalancing resources in our product portfolio, reducing support costs, moving customers to the latest version, abandoning products that can’t pay for themselves.

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6 Lessons for Non-Development Executives at Agile Software Companies

In many conversations over the last few months, I’ve see executive teams grappling with the positive effects of agile software development on their non-development processes and organizations. If you’re a VP of Marketing or Sales or Finance or Operations or Support at an agile software company, or one that is becoming more agile, improvements in how we build software will be shaping how you think about the software business and non-engineering departments. Here’s a short list of items that you need to consider in the face of increasing agility.

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Product Camp NYC

We were thrilled that the P-Camp/Product Camp movement arrived in The Big Apple on July 18th, and that Rich Mironov was able to participate: What: Product Camp NYC Where: Down Town Association, 60 Pine Street, New York City 10005 When:  Saturday, July 18, 2009, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Cost: Free, more information here Organized by: New York Product Management Association ProductCamps are collaborative, user organized professional conference, focused on Product Management and Marketing topics. At ProductCamp, everyone participates in some manner: presenting, leading a discussion, showcasing a best practice, or sharing their experiences. Others help with logistics, securing sponsorships, organizing sessions, or settng up/cleaning up.  This is a self-organizing collaborative event that is designed be a fun, rewarding and…

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Profitably Pairing Software and Professional Services

Wearing our software product management hats, it’s easy to think that all problems should be solved with software. (To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.) Software PMs need to be looking for opportunities to combine professional services with software – because services can be highly profitable, meet customer needs more quickly, and market-test ideas for future products. First, let’s set up an example. You’re the product manager for a financial application for businesses.  Customers and prospects provide an endless stream of requests that need sorting and ranking.  You’re inclined to tackle the most frequently demanded items and ignore the rarities, since development time is scarce and you want to meet the broadest set of needs. If you have a…

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Understanding the Opportunities of Buy-Side Economics

As CEOs of our products, we product managers have a lot to do.  Traditionally, this has included “build-versus-buy” decisions. The debate often hinged on whether technical tasks were “core” or just “context”.  Over the last decade, this has shifted from “build-versus-buy” to “buy-versus-buy” as we balance more kinds of internal and external resources.  Here are some thoughts on sizing various “buying” opportunities to keep products shipping and revenue flowing. The smallest opportunity might be called “the expert quick hitter”, then up to “niche technology provider” and finally a large “please build this for me.”  All three are invitations to think about what your team can do for itself, and your own urgency to get revenue products to market. Small: “The…

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Crowding Out Tech Support

This week, there’s been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere and popular press about “crowdsourcing” — empowering crowds of amateurs to do tasks previously filled by professionals. (See Jeff Howe’s Wired story.) The next trendy opportunity for startups to offload parts of themselves onto the market. Tech Support (aka Customer Support) is on many executives’ lists of outsource-able functions.  I’ve been talking with Tech Support teams at several startups, however, and see real value in a dedicated team that helps customers love you.  Here’s my contrarian view on getting more out of support teams.

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Open Source: Tree Museums

2005 was a great year for open source developers and solutions, with a dramatic boost in credibility, tools and respect.  As part of this, there are an increasing number of companies commercializing open source: adding value through installers, packaging, coordinated releases, technical support, management utilities and formal product planning. This has the feeling, though, of domesticating the wild spirit of open source and turning it into another IPO-driven, VC-backed, competitively focused economic model.  I’m reminded of Joni Mitchell’s verse from “Big Yellow Taxi”: “They took all the trees And put them in a tree museum And they charge the people A dollar and a half just to see ‘em”

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The "Null Service"

hosted application infrastructure

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Avoiding a Ticking B-O-M

software bills of materials

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