Ask A Good Product Manager

Your product management questions answered

How can a product manager assess product strategy?

Posted on March 19, 2008 · 1 Comment

Question: Are there any tools available to help a product manager assess product strategy?

Can you recommend any tools to use for (re)assessing product strategy framework? If you have any recommendation on tools that are more suited for extending product suite, that would be most useful.

Answer from Roger Cauvin: I assume by “tools” you’re referring to principles and guidelines.

The most important guideline to keep in mind is to maintain focus.

When your products solve a compelling set of problems for customers, they have profit potential. As prospective customers begin to associate your company and products with a simple idea (e.g. “user friendly printers”), the power of your brand will drive sales.

However, whenever you extend your product offerings, you risk undermining your brand if the new offerings aren’t consistent with the established idea that customers associate with your company and products.

Accordingly, when deciding whether to introduce a new product or extend the functionality of an existing product, consider whether you are solving a different set of problems or are addressing a different segment of the market. Consider whether the new product or functionality strengthens, or at least is consistent with, your established brand.

If so, then the extension may be promising.

If the new product or functionality is not consistent with your established brand, then you should probably either nix it or create a separate brand. Give it a completely different name and release it under a new company name.

1 other answer so far ↓

  • Raj P // Mar 20, 2008 at 2:37 am

    This is always a difficult question since it depends on so many factors, many of which are company-specific.

    Overall, I agree with Roger’s thoughts – “If the new product or functionality is not consistent with your established brand, then you should probably either nix it or create a separate brand.”

    As a matter of fact, we are currently facing this question at our company.

    Our company makes a product called Accompa – which is, in a nutshell, a lightweight requirements management software – primarily targeted at product managers & others who are currently using Excel or Word to manage requirements.

    So far, we’ve been very focused on keeping our product simple (and inexpensive), and only have features for managing requirements – even though a lot of our competitors have features like “bug tracking”, “project management”, etc.

    A handful of our customers have been requesting a new feature that certainly seems very compelling and meets an unmet need. However, many of us feel that it doesn’t fit with the focus of our current product.

    As a result, we are currently grappling with the question of whether to add it to our product, or create a new product. We’re finding it a very difficult question!

    I’d recommend the original questioner to check out the book “Positioning” by Al Ries & Jack Trout – it has two chapters on “Line Extensions”, I find many of the points are applicable to the question of “extending product suite”.

What do you think?