One of the common questions that our product management team gets from customers, and internal customers (engineering, support, marketing, sales) is why did you build that product or pick those features? How do you know that you’ve chosen wisely? One of the common mistakes of which I know I’m guilty of is to look at sales both in terms of total dollars and customers. Version 8 of our product suite was great – our sales improved by 50% and our number of customers tripled. That all sounds good at first glance, but it is important to recognize that there are many factors that drive sales besides product (e.g marketing, sale process improvements, etc). Did our sales improve because of a better product or was it because we doubled the marketing budget? The reason that many companies and product managers use sales numbers is because they are easy to measure. Total sales for product with feature set A was 50 million vs. product with new feature set A+B was 100 million. Conclusion product management did a great job selecting new features because feature set B doubled sales. Really?
Because customers don’t value what our sales numbers are, what should we measure to ensure we are making product investments that our customers value? There is a good book about measure called the Lean Start-up.
At Winshuttle, we are measuring our product and solution successes and failures by measuring their ability to improve time to value for our customers. Any new product, or improvement to an existing product, needs to improve the time to value. We baseline what we believe the improvement should be and validate this the old fashion way – talking to customers and prospects. Validation happens multiple ways including site visits, phone interview, surveys and logging information provided by customer and prospects. If we can’t articulate how a technology or service will improve time to value AND how we intent to measure and validate it, we won’t build it.
So our secret is out – Winshuttle only creates products, solutions and services that improve our customers/prospects problem solving velocity. That said, we need your help in measuring the success and failure of our new ideas. Please take the time to participate in our various feedback session such as surveys, phone interviews and product management site visits. Help us, help you.
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