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July 2012

A Shift in the Right Direction: Companies are Waking Up to Ways to Streamline Product Development

A Look at the Findings from the 3rd Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study

This year, 320 product development executives and managers across the globe shared their priorities, risks, and pain points around product portfolio management (PPM). Because this is the third study on PPM, we were able to identify some encouraging trends, show patterns in corporate behavior, and see small movements towards maturity within the discipline.

The full report, available at, is a terrific read and a good piece of research to drop off on your boss' desk. And if you really want to sound smart around the water cooler, here are some key points:

  • The top pain points really are solvable, especially the #1 pain point of Too Many Projects for our Resources
  • Two things will continue to impede your product development process if not addressed: the inability to accurately forecast resources and failure to kill products that are underperforming
  • There was a serious shift in the number of survey respondents who indicated that their companies are considering automating their PPM process via a software tool

Now, if any of these statements make your face contort with culpability, don't fret -- let the benchmark study populate your "to do" list for the rest of 2012! The honest, anonymous responses submitted via the study are meant to help those of us in the product development/engineering/R&D industry recognize that there are some weighty challenges that need to be addressed. Know that you're not alone in needing to make progress. But don't delay in getting started, because chances are your competition is also looking to make process and tool improvements to get the jump on you by getting to market faster, reducing cost, increasing revenue, and mitigating risk.

So, how do you get started? Well, just as Fräulein Maria recommends: "Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start." Your first step is to download and read the study to get some perspective on the breadth and depth of PPM, from ideation to launch. Next, take it a step further and perform an informal self-assessment using the study to determine how your organization compares to others in the industry, asking yourself questions like:

  • How efficient and successful are we at incorporating the voice of the customer?
  • How effective are we at forecasting resource capacity in the midst of changing business drivers?
  • How often do we have the courage to kill "in-flight" projects and products?

If you need help with this second step, there are lots of industry experts who can help guide the way, like our friends at Kalypso and PWC. They'll give you an unbiased viewpoint on the areas within PPM where you need improvement, along with a great plan of action to help you implement the processes and tools necessary to help you smoke the competition.

I'm not going to tell you that embarking on a PPM journey is as easy as Do-Re-Mi, but I will promise you that it will be worth the effort. So get started now and report back to us on how you're doing via the Pulse and again on next year's benchmark survey!