This blog is the 5th part in the series of blog posts related to ‘Pragmatic Guide for Preparation of GREAT Product Roadmap’
2nd part – Why product roadmap?
3rd part – Pragmatic purpose of product roadmap
4th part – Discovery of needs
Categorizing requirements – Tactical, strategic and disruptors
Explicit focus on customer and market is to discover all possible needs without leaving any needs behind. Unless Product Manager discover all needs, (s)he will not be able to make right prioritization decisions and it will hamper the evolution of the product. Once all needs are discovered, trying to categorize and prioritize them based on market or customer hardly makes any sense. Discovery of customer needs provides a foundation to build a generic representation of the broader segment of customers and to embark on the journey of discovering market focus needs. So somewhere deep down needs discovered through customer focus will ultimately be a subset of the market focus unless the business models rests on customization.
I have already provided hints of possible categories while talking about ‘Discovering of market focused needs’. Yes, you got it right. I am trying to categorize the requirement into tactical and strategic. In addition, I have added new category called disruptor.
These are short term (mostly 1-2 years). There is no uncertainty on any of the requirements listed in this category. The requirements are lucid and therefore there is hardly any risk in implementing those requirements. Further the requirements when incorporated into the product would be readily embraced by the customers ensuring steady flow of revenues. The requirements under this category address the short term business challenges of the customer providing an attractive proposition for customers to invest in the product. The requirements under this category are mostly evolutionary in nature. Tactical requirements are essential to ensure the steady flow of revenues to meet the revenue targets of the product.
These are near long term (typically around 2-3 years). There is some amount of uncertainty on how customer would react to the proposed changes to the product and therefore risk of implementing them is moderately higher. So the priority is to build minimalistic prototype, validate, and solicit feedback in an iterative manner until the uncertainty is completely eliminated and the requirement is moved to tactical category. The requirements under this category bring-in absolutely new value to the customer but more often customers do not explicitly request them and customers can still live without them unless the requirement becomes parity. Online fashion store adding the capability of augmented reality to facilitate virtual dressing room can be categorized under strategic category.
Disruptor is a game changer. They uproot the entire market, create new market and install new normal. Disruptors make old way of doing things irrelevant and they create new product line, new consumption models, and new ecosystem that does not existing before. Disruptors mostly do not evolve the product but they will extend the product line introducing new products embracing disruptive technology or innovations. Strategic requirements when chosen properly can extend the product life cycle without pre-maturely declining the product. However they could not stop the product declining from disruptive innovations or technology. Focus on disruption is to embark on the journey of finding new technologies that has the potential to disrupt the entire market and create a new normal. Disruptors create viable options and alternatives for growth in long term. In case of strategic requirements as well, we focus on imbibing innovation and new technology into the product to create a better value but those innovations or new technology are sustaining in nature and does not create new markets. While disruptor technology or innovation creates new market uprooting the older ones, ideal way to tackle the disruptor technology is to embrace it and not to fight it. Organizations therefore have to start investing on new technologies that has the potential to disrupt the market and introduce new normal.
Product offering vs market matrix
In order to better explain tactical, strategic and disruptor, I derived product offering vs market matrix. I believe the diagram below is self-explanatory. Incremental enhancements to existing product offering to better position the product in existing market belongs to tactical category. Evolutionary changes to existing product offering to position in new market or creating new product offering for positioning in existing market belong to strategic category. Revolutionary changes to create new markets through new product offerings belong to disruptor category.