How Is Product Success Defined and Measured?

By Sharon Brown

Success for new product features can be defined in a number of ways.  However, the answer depends on the metrics that are important to the organization, and how the product aligns with the business objective.

Key measures that I have used on various projects to determine product success are all defined during the product development planning process.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Quality
  • Financial
  • Technical
  • Stakeholder
  • Compliance
  • Performance

Golden key in keyhole

It is imperative to define what I call the key Product Acceptance Criteria (PAC) to get everyone on the product team on the same page about the specific metrics that will be used to define success.

For example, a new system may include throughput as an important criterion, and the ability to process 80,000 statements per hour may be required to meet a certain SLA (service level agreement).

Please share your comments and ask questions below, and I’ll look to write a followup post if there’s enough interest.

Can This Startup Compete Against Event Ticketing Platform Giants?

How one startup is making product management waves in the competitive online event ticketing reservation platform markets

VinoVisit, a Napa Valley based startup, built an online reservation platform that offers consumers the flexibility to book real-time winery reservations and build itineraries.  The startup has expanded an existing platform to make it easier for event organizers to manage, market, and sell tickets to their events.

We were intrigued by the startup’s product management to deliver standard meeting management – with functionality that is not much different than Eventbrite or Cvent – features to a niche market.  However, with one key difference, the platform integrates with “winery software”.

The VinoVisit ticketing platform includes features such as; event creation, customization, guest management and reporting, check-in, and event sales payment options.

online

‘Finally, a solution exists for wineries to inexpensively manage their ticketed events that is fully integrated with widely used winery software. Most ticketing platforms were created without the winery in mind. The new VinoVisit ticketing platform allows multiple levels of customization that puts the winery in control. Those planning trips to wine country or living locally will all have increased exposure to our partner’s events.’ Ron Scharman, COO, VinoVisit.

As a startup, competing against event management and ticketing giants like Cvent and Eventbrite, VinoVisit provides data that their customers also gain access to:

  1. 75,000+ monthly website visitors
  2. 230,000+ national email subscriber list
  3. 30,000+ social media fan base

meeting

From a product management perspective, the features of VinoVisit are not unique.  The only differentiator is in the marketing – the startup has focused solely on the winery industry for event ticketing.   However, as noted, key competitors such as Eventbrite and Cvent could challenge startup’s play in the winery market because they have a deeper list of features and an extensive list of visitors, subscribers, and social media followers.

For example, the Eventbrite and Cvent platforms have an array of built-in features that facilitate the entire event lifecycle from start-to-finish.  VinoVisit will need to consider extending their platform further with future product development in order to compete with the Evenbrite and Cvent features which include:

  • Mobile apps
  • Post-event analytics
  • Meeting management
  • Venue sourcing
  • Social media
  • Search for finding unique venues
  • Budget management
  • Event marketing
  • Registration
  • Check-in process
  • Onsite audience engagement

 

 

3 Companies Turning Product Challenges Into Product Gold

By Sharon R. Brown

Where’s the pain felt most when you are in the midst of launching a new product or service?  Surprisingly, the challenges typically boil down to one core issue — translating the product vision into verifiable outputs — the deliverables.

We took a look at few startups and SMB’s (small-to-medium-sized businesses) to uncover the biggest challenges that they are experiencing in launching their projects.

 

Our analysis revealed challenges such as data acquisition, community building, and sensitive data access surfaced as some of the key issues. There are few absolutes in product development.

But, the one constant that is worth emphasizing is that regardless of the industry, if you’re building a product or service from the ground up there will be bumps in the road or potential roadblocks.

Throughout my experience launching numerous products and services across a variety of industries in the corporate sector — and over a decade plus as an entrepreneur — I have always been most surprised that companies often struggle to translate their project vision into actionable plans that can be executed within a measured product development life cycle.

Here is a snapshot of a few companies that are navigating remarkable development challenges in their product releases while launching a unique set of deliverables, despite the roadblocks.

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The Data Sensitivity Challenge

LifeSite Vault is a new, secure web-based solution for storing all of life’s vital information and documents. The company’s SaaS platform provides a solution to organize, categorize, manage and safely share information, all in one place.

lifesite-vault-desktop-001

LifeSite’s Product Challenge:

Gaining the trust of consumers posed the biggest challenge for LifeSite. The confidential nature of the information that the startup’s product was designed to lock up creates a data sensitivity issue. However, LifeSite Vault focused on addressing the safety and security of personal information in the product by engaging security experts during design, development and testing.

The company uses the latest military-grade security protocols, and are continuously monitoring and auditing systems to maintain the highest level of security. The product will be launching a premium paid version by March 2016.

DADAhomepage

The Infrastructure Challenge

DADA is an online community where visual people draw together. Draw something and someone from anywhere in the world can respond with another drawing. It’s a place to discover that you are an artist, and a place for artists to be discovered.

challenge

DADA’s Product Challenge:

The biggest challenge for DADA was figuring how to make it work. Since nothing like the online community has been attempted before, DADA could not translate requirements or adapt the infrastructure from the real or online world. A lot of iteration and experimentation was required to build a system by which people would want to draw.

Getting artist to share their drawings, respond to drawings and create community was a hurdle.  Ultimately, DADA created a community with extraordinary and meaningful engagement.  DADA launched September 2015 and will launch their mobile app March 2016.

big data

The Data Acquisition Challenge

Kehko is a startup that’s building a platform to help socially and environmentally conscious consumers discover companies that are giving back to causes they care about.  The company is in the pre-launch stage.

Kehko’s Product Challenge:

The biggest challenge for Kehko has been identifying social enterprises to include on its platform. With thousands of social enterprises around the world, identifying them has been a real struggle.  The site is expected to launch February 2016.

Over the next few weeks, I will share more of my perspective about some of the best practices for product and project implementation.  Please feel to contact me here and share your experiences and perspectives.

 

Sharon R. Brown is founder and CEO of eLuminate Network.  Sharon is a tech entrepreneur, product management expert, speaker and author, and regularly speaks on the subjects of product development and project implementation.  You can follow her via @SharonRbrown1 and Facebook.com/eLuminate

eLuminate is the most influential, the most read, and the most popular destination for product and project resources and news for startups and SMBs.

 

Tips For The Virtual Product Manager

By Sharon Brown

Virtual Product Managers Working with Long-Distance Development Teams

I noted in a blog post that I could probably write a book of tips for product managers working with a virtual development team.  Below are a few key considerations and tips to get you started on the right path.

  • Make sure the product vision is clearly defined and communicated to the team;
  • Validate the scope and product deliverables with the team (great for buy in);
  • Document and communicate a clear division of roles and responsibilities.

Remember the importance of building a good first impression.  Your first interaction with your new team will be instrumental in building the foundation for the work relationship.

Do not discount the importance of team-building and establishing a team culture; both are extremely important.  You could have the brightest minds and the most capable resources, but if people don’t know how to work together —  and pull toward the same goal — that will become a big drain on productivity and the product.

Establish regular processes for accountability (team and yourself), get one-on-one time with each product developer, and find efficient ways to communicate — then streamline, streamline, streamline that communication.

Product_Manage_Involvement

Senior Product Manager Versus Junior Product Manager

What if one of your team members is another product manager?  If one product manager has seniority, how should you work together?  There must be seamless communication and a clear definition of roles and responsibilities between both senior and junior product managers.

In either tech or non-tech environments (I’ve worked in both), the senior product manager is responsible for defining the scope, end-to-end solution, execution of product specifications, optimization, and more.

Depending on the organizational structure, the junior product manager can be assigned a portion of the product to manage and is responsible for meeting milestones, and reporting progress on key deliverables to the senior product manager.

 

Sharon Brown

Sharon Brown

Founder & CEO, eLuminate

For speaking engagements contact Sharon here

One Startups Strategy to Launch a Product Market Fit and Sales Platform for Product Owners

A product market fit and sales platform geared towards startup companies and product launches that helps product owners identify their target demographic and ideal price.

World Cup of Sales (WCOS), a product market fit and sales platform geared towards startup companies and product launches, is providing Millennials social sharing tools so that they can leverage their social media followers to sell products and earn money on what they sell.

Millennials already spend over 5 hours a day on social media, so it’s an easy way for students to share to their networks, get some cool selling experience, and earn some money along the way.

The product market fit concept that helps product owners identify their target demographic and the ideal price point for their products, is what WCOS is touting as their unique offering into the crowded sales platform market.

social media

The startup is putting together a team of ambassadors across 300 US campuses who will review product samples and provide feedback on look and feel, missing features, and any other info companies need to track. This type of market intelligence can save huge money by ensuring companies launch the right product to the right market.

The company hopes to change the way companies launch.  “With an aggressive growth plan for their platform to connect the crowd with startups, World Cup of Sales is poised to create a shift in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Nabyl Charania, CEO of Rokk3r Labs.

Rokk3r Labs is a platform for entrepreneurs with a focus on exponential technologies (e.g., the blockchain, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing) and offers methods of raising capital.  Currently, Rokk3r Labs has a portfolio of 39 companies.

About World Cup of Sales
The World Cup of Sales is a platform that accelerates sales, amplifies product launches and provides real-time feedback. With WCOS, startup companies can launch new products to market, get instant product feedback on demographics and market fit, and live data on how products are generating real revenue.

How the Global Cyber Security Job Shortage Could Impact Your Startup?

A recent report revealed that “More than 209,000 cyber security jobs in the U.S. are unfilled, and postings are up 74% over the past five years.

“(Reuters) – Leading cyber experts warned of a shortage of talented computer security experts in the United States, making it difficult to protect corporate and government networks at a time when attacks are on the rise.”

Another report included “A report from Cisco puts the global figure at one million cybersecurity job openings. The demand for the (cybersecurity) workforce is expected to rise to 6 million (globally) by 2019, with a projected shortfall of 1.5 million” stated Michael Brown, CEO at Symantec, the world’s largest security software vendor.” This only turns up the anxiety level on companies who are scrambling to avoid being the “breach du jour”.

Compounding matters are that there is a significant increase in regulatory and compliance requirements across all industries. Every compliance framework out there went through major overhauls in 2015. In some cases as is the case for the SSAE 16; doubled in complexity. The situation just got more expensive and complex.

cyber security

The only clear answers for businesses who want to remain viable in the global cyber threatscape come in the form of increased efficiencies and leveraged resources. Two of the best solutions that have emerged to address these challenges are:

The cost may be prohibitive to whoo a qualified cyber security expert to your startup, so it may be worth retaining the help from dedicated and verifiable experts which costs less than the expense of hiring just one cyber security employee.

And yes, that was a plural not singular expert. There are professional  services companies such as Cybervisor with the expertise of many seasoned experts.

Automation is Your Friend: It’s time to work smarter and not harder! By utilizing automated cyber security and GRC tools, we have discovered that employees are so much more efficient and effective.

In fact utilizing a tool like ITAM consistently makes the cyber security, GRC assessments and reporting processes a whopping 180% more efficient on average. When time is money, ITAM is like getting three (3) dedicated cyber security employees for less than the cost of one (1).

Steve Morgan, a professional acquaintance who writes about cyber security for Forbes published One Million Cyber security Job Openings In 2016 and revealed some jaw-dropping statistics concerning the growing deficit in hiring qualified cyber security employees.

To make matters worse, this chasm is exacerbated by the explosion of corporate breaches impacting and even decimating businesses in financials, education, business, government and especially healthcare.

Cybervisor Cyber Security services from Lazarus Alliance.

A recent report revealed that “More than 209,000 cyber security jobs in the U.S. are unfilled, and postings are up 74% over the past five years, according to a Peninsula Press (a project of the Stanford University Journalism Program) 2015 analysis of numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” It is pretty clear that while there currently is not enough talent to go around; this is only getting exponentially worse.