Your customers don’t care about integrated products as much as you think, but you’d never know it. They don’t miss an opportunity to tell you “your products need to be better integrated.”  In reality, it’s just their way of telling you what they ultimately want – integrated workflows.

Years ago, I was facilitating a customer advisory board for one of my clients. Their customers were large retail banks and credit card issuers. I distinctly remember one of the bank executives telling my client, “if you’d do a better job of integrating your products, it would really help us execute our strategy better.”

Without hesitation, I asked, “how would that integration help you and why is it so important to the success of your strategy?”

Long story short, the interactions between marketing, risk management, card approval, finance, etc. were horribly disjointed and ultimately creating a less than desirable experience for their customers, all during a time when the competitive landscape was fierce and margins on the credit card business were in an accelerated decline.

Integrated Workflows vs. Integrated Products

Granted, integrated products are usually the best and easiest way to integrate customer workflows but think about all the products that are integrated technically yet miss the mark by a longshot when it comes to integrating cross-functional customer workflows.

Marketing promotes an event and gets 200 people to register and attend. Yet the customer experience team has to go through several unnecessary steps to send the post-event survey, even though the email marketing, registration and survey applications are “integrated” on a single platform.

A patient is discharged from the hospital and will receive ongoing home care from that same hospital, yet the home health department has to treat that situation as a new patient with redundancies everywhere.

There are thousands of examples like this across every industry and product category. It begs the question, are we jumping the gun to design products and features before we fully understand the customer workflows and outcomes? Are our views of customer workflows too myopic?

Many product companies have successfully used the jobs-to-be-done framework to create great products, yet they’re still leaving money on the table when it comes to integrating cross-functional customer workflows that go beyond the users of each product.

The Root Cause and the Fix

The root cause of the problem starts way upstream in the requirements gathering phase. User requirements (what users require to get better at their job) are often mistaken for business requirements (what the customer organization requires to get better at its business).

The fix is simple. Gather business requirements that reflect the strategic and operational priorities of your customers. Make sure they include the desired business outcomes and the obstacles standing in the way of those outcomes.

With solid business requirements in hand, you have a clear perspective on WHAT you’re going to help customers accomplish, WHY it’s important to the success of their business and HOW to deliver the outcomes they’re looking for.

With very few exceptions, achieving those high-value business outcomes involves workflows that cross multiple roles and departments, and in many cases, third party organizations.

If your product teams can be disciplined enough to walk with customer workflows and outcomes before they run with products and features, the market value of your solutions will skyrocket!

Marketing & Selling Outcomes & Workflows

This is value marketing and selling at its finest. You’ve identified business outcomes that have strategic value to your target customers. You’ve identified the biggest obstacles standing in the way of those outcomes, and you’ve delivered solutions that eliminate the obstacles across multiple roles and departments. That’s your value story. The products and features that comprise the solution are the proof points.

Outcome-Based Product Management & Product Marketing

Portfolio Product Management is a “whole is greater than the sum of the parts” approach that unites product management and product marketing teams behind a common set of high-value customer outcomes.

It eliminates silos and competing priorities by keeping everyone focused on building, marketing, selling and delivering solutions that, without question, have the biggest impact on outcomes that are strategic to your target customers. The role and investment priority of each product is determined by its impact on those outcomes.

Sign up for Product Management University On-Demand or contact us about a personalized workshop and learn outcome-based product management and product marketing. You’ll accelerate the maturation of your team, improve the market value of your portfolio and drive new growth.

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