The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

June - 2008 - issue > Management

Building Great Products: Art and Science of Product Management

Gunjan Sinha
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Gunjan Sinha
Many startups fail because of missing the mark on their products, despite the founders and CEOs often having the right vision and strategy, or are even focusing on the right markets. Sales and marketing organizations are also in place in many well-funded startups. Yet, most startups fail to make it to their promised success. The real challenge for many of these startups is how well they deliver on the products. How well does the company build and manage its products? Do they understand how to manage products, which are supposed to be innovative? How well does the startup understand the art and science of managing products and the portfolio of products? These are critical areas of attention for all entrepreneurs.

Customer Requirements versus Product Requirements

Product Management is responsible for defining and building the right product. While customer requirements are important, it is important for innovators to think beyond these requirements and innovate on what could possibly be done to delight and even positively surprise the customer. Customers often don’t know what is possible through new technologies and new UI capabilities. They are often busy with their own needs and requirements. They are not scanning for what is possible in the industry or cross-industry. It is the job of startup product managers and engineering teams to envision the future and design products that fulfill the market and customer needs. At the very least, one needs to prototype and show the customer how the future may unfold, and then take feedbacks from the customer. Iterative feedbacks from your early customers or prospects can then help you develop a product, which truly delivers to the market needs.

Adding Features versus Delivering Product Value

Many product teams get too focused on competitors and market dynamics to keep adding features and functions. Often times, these lead to a ‘me too’ product offerings and fail to offer true product value. But, the winning product teams focus more of their energy on delivering product value. Innovations and features are merely means to deliver these product values. For example, at Apple, which has built a great ‘iPhone’ product, the focus has been a lot more on enhancing the product value of cell phones, by way of bringing music, videos, and voice communication into a single device with great UI. All the features and innovations are geared to support that purpose. It is also extremely important not to overload the products with too many features and capabilities, and in the process loosing the true value of the intended product.

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