How do you evolve your product releases?

In most companies while the business strategy is given its due importance the product strategy is more or less neglected. Although product strategy is mostly driven by the Product Manager or Product Owner without enough Executive level attention and guidance is required to make sure that the product strategy support the organization level business strategy.

The recommended approach for evolving product strategy (demonstrated below) should always start by taking into account the organization level business strategy. For example, if the organization’s business strategy is to either grow business in one market segment or milk the product in another market segment then the product strategy must follow it by investing in former and by limiting the investments in the later one.

Product Strategy

Figure: Product Release Strategy Approach

Of course, portfolio strategy may be required step in organizations where businesses are organized in multiple portfolios. Every company has different structure but recommended stakeholders for evolving the product portfolio strategy are various department heads such as

  1. Head – Product Management
  2. Head – Marketing
  3. Head – Engineering
  4. Head – Regional Business
  5. Head – Presales

Once the portfolio strategy is identified the Product Managers or Product Owners should be required to ascertain Product Strategy by involving stakeholders such as

  1. Product Manager or Product Owner
  2. Product Marketing Manager
  3. Product Unit Head & Engineering Manager
  4. Product Presales Representatives
  5. Presales Representatives

Although the product portfolio may not need review on semiannual basis the Product Strategy or at least the Product Roadmap must be revisited at least once after six months. The reasons for such recommendation are as follows

  1. Change in competitive situation
  2. Change in technology options
  3. Change in business environment
  4. Change in organizational structure
  5. Win/loss of new big deal

As change in any of the above factor will very likely influence (or should influence) product strategy reviewing the roadmap every six months provides an opportunity to fine-tune the approach to make sure that the business objectives are achievable.

In general I have seen following release strategy being followed for Enterprise or IT products and since these mostly depend on the product I don’t think there is a silver bullet which will address an organizations problem.

  1. ONE Major & ONE Minor release in a YEAR (mostly followed by Enterprise products)
  2. Quarterly release (mostly followed by SaaS Enterprise applications)
  3. Monthly (even biweekly) release (mostly followed by SaaS Consumer applications)

The best approach would be to study the customers’ ability to accept new releases, necessity and ability to pay for new releases, and your organizations ability to churn out new releases and then take a call on what is best for your product (to get bank for your buck).

Of course, this is what I think…how do you evolve and manage your product releases?