There’s a good reason why athletes in contact sports wear protective pads.  Over time, statistics have shown where injuries are most likely to occur, hence the placement of the pads. If product management is a contact sport, what’s your organization’s risk of injury? What types of pads do you need and where is their optimal placement?

Delivering, marketing and selling products in B2B is a contact sport in many ways. Over time, statistics have shown where injuries are most likely to occur, yet we often disregard the recommended pads.

Think of the product delivery process as the athlete.  Think of the roles responsible for each phase as the protective pads.  Here’s a rundown of typical injuries you’ll most likely sustain if you don’t wear the recommended pads.

The Body Part:  Product Strategy & Planning
The Protective Pad: 
 Portfolio Strategist

Many organizations use the product manager as a one-size-fits-all pad. The primary purpose of a portfolio strategist is to identify strategic and operational business goals of the target customers to establish value parameters for the products and the problems they’ll need to address.  Without a portfolio strategist, the injury you’re most likely to sustain is an overabundance of disjointed one-off development projects to satisfy the next big sales opportunity or unhappy customer.  The end result is products with lots of features for everyone and few closed-loop solutions for any one market segment.

The Body Part:  Functional Product Design
The Protective Pad: 
 Surrogate Users (SME, Product Owner, Business Analyst)

Many organizations have never considered this pad.  Its purpose is to ensure products are designed from the user’s perspective first.  Without it, your product might pass a physical exam by having the right “checklist” of features, but come game time, it will fall flat on its face from poor usability.  Future development projects will be disproportionately spent redesigning features from prior releases instead of building new ones, causing serious injury to your competitive position.

The Body Part:  Product Development
The Protective Pad: 
Engineering

No technology organization is without this pad.  If there is any issue at all, it’s too much padding (relative to other parts of the organization).  The likely injury:  either great solutions looking for problems to solve, or the greatest products no one has ever heard of.

The Body Part:  Product Rollout
The Protective Pad:
  Solutions Marketing

Our experience shows this pad missing more than 50% of the time.  When missing, expect your sales force to have a noticeable limp since the primary purpose of solutions marketing is sales enablement and quality demand generation.  Sales credibility is the #1 reason you’re customers buy.  Don’t injure your team before they even take the field.

The Body Part:  Product Demos
The Protective Pad: 
 Pre-Sales Consultant / Solution Engineer

In many companies, product demos are a second string job for anyone with product expertise. The injury:  poor problem discovery and poor preparation make for “show up and throw up” feature demos that bore prospects to tears and delay buying decisions.  If your sales pipeline doesn’t warrant a dedicated solution engineer, product marketing and marketing communications may need more time in the treatment room.

The Body Part:  Customer Implementation
The Protective Pad:
  Client Services Consultant

Most organizations have this pad.  The risk of injury comes from a lack of necessary training and transfer of knowledge.  Good consultants know customer business processes and are experts at workarounds that often mitigate the need for yet another “one off” development project.  They’re also your ticket to strong customer references.  Without good ones, expect more development emergencies and poor customer references.

The Body Part:  Technical Support
The Protective Pad: 
Support Technician

See “customer implementation” above.

While protective body pads aren’t 100% foolproof in any contact sport, imagine the complexion of the games if players didn’t wear pads.  The sheer number of injuries would be disruptive to the flow of the game and the loss of star athletes would make the games undesirable to watch.  How long would the sport last under those conditions?

Make sure you have the right pads to protect your organization against high-risk product injuries. Contact Proficientz to learn how our Product Portfolio Management Framework and B2B training programs give you better protection than any other program on the market.