Getting it right the first time

10 Dec

 With a manufactured product, there are hard costs associated with building the product and you don’t usually get a second chance at launching a product; nor can you easily ‘patch’ a manufactured product after launch.  With a hardware product, fixing an issue could add hundreds of thousands of dollars in new tooling costs. I’ve even worked on some projects (cutting edge IC’s), where the rule of thumb to release a design to manufacturing was $1M. Marketing launch costs are over and above that.

It would be simple to say that software products are ‘easier’ in this regard, as they can be taken through a beta period or receive critical update patches after launch. (Just how many Windows Updates will I receive?)  However, just like a hardware product, if a software product is lacking in some way, it’s likely to not be as successful in the market as it should have been.

Regardless of the type of product we manage, our goal should be to ensure that our products ‘get it right the first time’. While on the surface, this seems like a pretty obvious statement, in my experience, many products don’t actually ‘get it right the first time’.

In order to get it right the first time, we need to ensure that we have:

  • Clearly understood the requirements of the market we are targeting
  • Developed a product which meets those market requirements
  • Not released a product into the market before it is ready (bug-free, missing features)
  • Set sales & customer expectations about what the product does

What are the ways you ensure that your products are the most successful?

Are your products always a “Rev A” or “Release 1” success?

** This post is expanding on an idea spawned by reading Pranav Desai’s recent post on the differences between hardware and software product management.

http://hardwarepm.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/hardwarepmdiff/

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5 Responses to “Getting it right the first time”

  1. Geoffrey Anderson December 10, 2010 at 4:12 am #

    Great post, and it reminded me of one of the key differences between hardware and software tech product management.

    I used to do analytical equipment, and we had a couple blunders that were painful to repair in the field. Retrofitting a couple hundred field repairs of a poorly designed interface card ($10 part) cost nearly $250K to fix. I learned a lot about adverse environmental testing after that!

  2. Rich Mironov December 10, 2010 at 4:14 am #

    Great to see (hear?) another voice in the PM sphere, especially from the hardware side of the world.
    And recalls a comment from a Dec 1 panel discussion ( http://www.mironov.com/svpma-pmskills/ ) where one of the speaker divided things into “software and real products.”

    Look forward to your next dozen posts. _Rich

  3. Pranav Desai December 10, 2010 at 4:25 am #

    Hey Sheri,

    Nice Post and glad to see another hardware product manager showing her perspective.

    I especially relate to seeing bullet items 1, 3 and 4 not being followed through properly, as I do know of some cases where a Rev A product was rushed to the market before it was finished to beat the competition/ or for a customer order and was patched subsequently. Leads to poor customer opinion, churn (worse case), opportunity loss (to patch something up) and worse yet leads to Sales losing any confidence in “selling” the product.

  4. Rob Berman December 10, 2010 at 4:29 am #

    Congratulations on launching your blog. I tend to work more with services but find your points right on the mark. The hardest thing about blogging is the momentum. Keep posting and you will be fine.

    Rob

  5. almgren4711 December 10, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    HI, welcome to the blogging community. And you certainly got it right the first time. Like your post and always good to hear from a non-software PM.

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