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Analyst and Thought Leader Notes

Changing the Game with Innovation that Works

What to Expect at PIPELINE 2013 and Four Reasons to Attend

I am very excited to announce to all our Product Pulse readers that PIPELINE 2013 registration is open! This year's conference is all about "Changing the Game with Innovation that Works." As innovators, we know that inspiration is only a piece of the puzzle — and that's where PIPELINE comes in. Read the latest press releaseChanging the Game With Innovation.

Now in its fourth year — the online conference for innovative product development highlights innovation tools, techniques, and tangible takeaways shared by thought leaders, solution providers, and innovation practitioners. And for the first time, PIPELINE will feature several presentations in both German and English to appeal to its diverse and growing global audience. PIPELINE 2013 showcases keynote presentations:

  • Terry Jones, chairman of and founder /former CEO of will speak about Turning on Innovation in Your Culture — Teams and Organizations
  • Frans Johansson, innovation author and founder/CEO of the Medici Group will discuss The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World
  • Dr. Oliver Gassmann, innovation author and director of the Institute for Technology Management of the University of St. Gallen will speak about The Art and Science of Innovation (Presented in English and German)

PIPELINE 2013 will take place May 16th and opens at 4:30 AM CDT / 9:30 GMT with the first presentation kicking-off at 5:00 AM CDT /10:00 GMT followed by an assortment of informational and inspiring presentations running throughout the day. The conference will conclude at 2:30 PM CDT / 19:30 GMT so mark your calendars, select what you want to attend, and don't miss this extraordinary event.

Four reasons you should attend PIPELINE 2013:

  1. It's free to attend; no travel required.
  2. Connect and network with product leaders and innovators from organizations from all around the world!
  3. Get valuable insight and gain knowledge from PIPELINE's impressive lineup of speakers and sponsors.
  4. Leave the event feeling inspired and motivated and lead the innovation strategy within your organization.

As the host sponsor of PIPELINE, we will share conference updates and feature articles from PIPELINE speakers and sponsors, right here on Product Pulse. Read Kaylee Kolditz's article titled, Lighting the Way to a Brighter World Though Innovation at PIPELINE 2013 on the PIPELINE Buzz page. Want to know more about the event? Watch this video for a quick overview.

What are you looking forward to most at PIPELINE 2013? Share by leaving a comment below. I look forward to seeing you at the event.

An Interview with Carrie Nauyalis on the Stage-Gate Innovation Summit

The annual Stage-Gate® Innovation Summit 2013 recently wrapped up in Miami, leaving attendees with much to think about when it comes to implementing best practices around product development processes. The conference is directed by innovation champions from leading companies and promotes the sharing of ideas that enable immediate improvements in the gated process. Carrie Nauyalis, new product development solution evangelist, Planview, attended the conference for her fourth year and shares her experience with you, right here on Product Pulse.

Q: Having attended or sponsored the Stage-Gate Innovation Summit four times, what keeps you coming back?

Carrie: The Stage-Gate brand is known worldwide and there is so much depth under the methodology. The conference is an outlet for the experienced to share lessons learned with the newcomers trying to develop their process. I am always impressed with the culture of cooperation at the conference. Speakers reveal their best practices, and aren't ashamed to admit their mistakes and what they would do differently ‒‒ that's where the real benefit comes. I also appreciate the opportunity to speak with the presenters, collaborate with others to see how they are doing things, and meet people going through similar issues. You walk away inspired and enthused to get back and tweak your process.

Q: What types of people attended the conference this year?

Carrie: The conference is truly a span of people ranging from Stage-Gate newbies to companies with 10 years of Stage-Gate process under their belts. Everyone there is either a practitioner of Stage-Gate or the beneficiary of the process, meaning they may not directly use the process but they have teams of people under them who do. Both practitioners and beneficiaries glean valuable information based on their business initiatives.

Q: What presentations stood out for you this year?

Carrie: Chester Baker, head of global innovation at Abbott Nutrition, offered staggering statistics about ROI, which is critical when investing people and money in process development and portfolio management. When you consider the cost of paying gate keepers to take time out of their schedules to evaluate projects going to gate and all of the process managers chasing gate deliverables, you want to see returns. Chet illustrated that it's not just about implementation of Stage-Gate or a portfolio management solution like Planview Enterprise, but a collective innovation program with the goal of growing the company.

Of course, Scott Edgett, co-founder of Stage-Gate International, had some wicked-good stats of his own. He said that only one out of every nine concepts becomes a commercial success and 40% of a firm's product development resources go to losers; shocking! That's a lot of failed concepts that drained a lot of valuable resources ‒‒ and a lot of missed opportunities. I truly believe using technology like Planview's can increase the odds, reduce the number of resources applied to losers and increase the commercialization success of products. That's the stuff that gets me up in the morning.

Finally, Bruce Kerr, director of corporate innovation effectiveness at Corning, discussed the evolution of their gated process. He "got" that it's about continuous improvement versus a one-time fix; finding new ways to streamline the process and get better products to market faster. Interestingly, he was one of the only speakers who mentioned social media as part of their product development process. Social media can play a huge role in product development and more companies need to consider it.

Q: What were your key takeaways?

Carrie: 1) Continuous improvement in the Stage-Gate process is critical. You’re never "done." 2) Consumer-facing product companies have an opportunity to incorporate their brand into their Stage-Gate and portfolio processes. Marketing needs to get involved by incorporating brand information into the product development process and portfolio prioritization process. 3) The successful companies have automated their processes using commercialized applications, not spreadsheets. Spreadsheets aren't going to get you there.

To learn more about automating the Stage-Gate Process with Planview Enterprise download your copy of the Planview Enterprise is Certified Stage-Gate® Ready Solution Brief.

I'd like to hear from you. If you attended the Stage-Gate Innovation Summit, share some of the highlights that inspired you. If you didn't attend, what are some key takeaways you had at a product development or innovation conference this year? Share by leaving a comment below.

The Global State of Resource Management and Capacity Planning [Infographic]

In a recent blog post, Are Your Limited Resources Focused on the Right Opportunities?, Maureen Carlson, chief researcher of the Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study, cites key findings and introduces the study's maturity matrix that you can use to evaluate the maturity of your organization.

2013 Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study InfographicOne revelation is that a great majority of organizations have shared resources across their enterprise, but less than half of them have a dedicated function or role for resource management and capacity planning. Not surprisingly, the ones who do are achieving the most success in terms of resource planning maturity.

Overall, greater visibility of demand and capacity, better demand prioritization, and the ability to adapt to change are cited as key enablers to success. The comprehensive study, which features input from more than 600 participants in more than 17 countries, goes into greater detail and makes recommendations for boosting maturity.

With 44% of respondents from product development, the study sheds a light on the most significant pain points and causes, business risks, software use, and best practices ‒‒ for not only PD but cross industry.

Read the complete blog on Portfolio Perspectives and get your complimentary copy of the report from our 2013 Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study page.

"Many organizations are continuing to operate in a state of chaos or limited visibility into what their resources are working on today and what they are available to do tomorrow. A third of organizations have achieved some level of visibility…" Read more about the Resource Management and Capacity Benchmark Study

Stay tuned to Product Pulse for details from product development respondents and follow #RMCP13 to join the conversation on Twitter.

I'd like to hear from you. How are you currently managing your resources and capacity to ensure your people are working on the right opportunities? Post a comment or ask me a question pertaining to the research by leaving a comment below.

Carlson, M. (2013). Resource Management Capacity Planning Benchmark Study. Planview.

Top Innovation and Product Development Resources of 2012

Revisiting Wisdom from Analysts, Thought Leaders, and Practitioners

Happy New Year! As we kick off 2013, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the most popular innovation and portfolio management resources of 2012. These whitepapers and Webcasts feature analysts, thought leaders, and practitioners sharing their wisdom and experience to help us make better, more informed decisions and optimize our limited resources.

Here are five most widely read (and viewed) resources:

  1. PDF: Issue in Focus: Meeting Fixed Product Launch Windows, Managing Portfolios When Time to Market is Non-Negotiable
    In this research report, Jim Brown, president of Tech-Clarity, addresses the critical nature of hitting launch windows and provides insight from successful companies as well as tips for improving the odds of success.
  2. Video / webcast: On-Demand Webcast: Building and Managing an Innovation Portfolio
    Hosted by best-selling business author Jerry Manas, featuring Chip Gliedman, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research, Inc. and Carrie Nauyalis, NPD solution market manager, Planview, this webcast provides insights to help you build and manage your innovation portfolio.
  3. PDF: Ten Proven Military Strategies For Better Resource Planning: Avoiding Custer's Last Stand
    This latest whitepaper from Jerry Manas explores 10 timeless military strategies ‒‒ tried and tested over thousands of years ‒‒ that can be effectively applied toward modern day resource planning.
  4. Video / webcast: On-Demand Webcast: How Technology-Enabled Visibility Lets You Prioritize Products and Optimize Resources
    Find out how product portfolio management (PPM) technology enables organizations to optimize their limited people and financial resources to achieve their product delivery objectives. Featuring Planview, Isabel SA, and Frost & Sullivan.
  5. PDF: The 3rd Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study
    With input from more than 1000 product development executives and managers over the last three surveys, this report provides insightful statistics and informative data on the state of product portfolio management along with thought-provoking recommendations for all product development organizations.

Continue the Conversation Online

We're actively engaged in social media connecting product developers and practitioners to the latest news and information in innovation and product portfolio management. Join the conversation by:

Are there other materials that provided you important guidance in 2012? Please use the comment section below to share your favorite white papers, Webcasts, blogs, etc.

Google Trumps Apple at Christmas

What I Got My Kids (keep it a secret) and Why It's a Big Problem for Apple

Those who know me have accused me over the years of being an "Apple fan-boy". Although I would argue that I am really more of a technology geek and early adopter, it's hard to argue with the fan-boy moniker given that our home has been wall-to-wall Apple for well over a decade ‒‒ until now. Let us walk through the interesting chain of events (that I never saw coming).

My oldest daughter is in 5th grade and earlier this year my wife and I relented and allowed her to spend six months of hard-earned savings on an iPod Touch. This is a big moment in the life of any child these days ‒‒ their first "ianything." You would naturally assume that this event would represent the on-ramp to cementing her membership to the Apple nation, but I am not so sure.

Google Chrome vs AppleTwo things happened that set in motion a crack in our happy little Apple home.

First, her Touch necessitated the need for her first e-mail account. Without an e-mail account you are worthless in App-land, free or paid, and I was not ready to have my e-mail account associated with the onslaught of the latest children's games. So I got her a Gmail account of course ‒‒ never really considered Yahoo (sorry Marissa), Hotmail (or whatever it is called now), or Apple. It seemed like an innocent enough decision at the time.

The second event was her escalated need for a computer to do her school work. No problem here, except that although we have multiple iPads, we only have one true computer, an iMac. As the school year progressed, I have become increasingly accustomed to coming home from work and seeing my home desk littered with school papers, after-school snacks, and craft projects! Not ideal (conflicts with my OCD); something had to change.

It wasn't hard to see this day coming, and over the past year I had speculated about adding to our home computing footprint. Typically I would come to the conclusion that some flavor of Apple laptop was in the cards, most likely for the kids to use for their school machine. That said, I have been hesitant to spend $1500 on a beautiful machine that I knew would be subject to questionable care from two young children (and likely to suffer regularly from unintended technical challenges requiring me to play home help desk, ugh.)

And it happened, "a tremor in the Force" ‒‒ the $249 Chromebook from Samsung! I started researching and was more than intrigued. I use Google Docs for much of my personal work, and it makes perfect sense for students versus the overkill of Office. No complexity of a "full featured" OS. My daughter's highest anxiety part of the iMac and Office is act of saving ("what is a folder and where did my homework go?"). No worries; there's an auto save feature in Google Docs. My fear of some OS configuration, help desk nightmare was also gone (can't do much damage in a browser), and it was cheap (let them stick fruit wraps on it in the shape of turtles if that floats their boat!). Oh, and did I mention that I can outfit both kids with their own laptops for less than half the price of one Apple MacBook!

There's goes religion, and here comes a Chromebook under this year's Christmas tree (we will start with one), and the Apple zone will have been breached by Google. More important for Apple, my children will now be on-ramped to Google/Chrome as their platform for the next 10 years, not Apple. For the short-term Apple will no doubt be their mobile media and gaming platform, and they love it. But will my daughter someday ask for an Android phone or tablet because it works better with her schoolwork? And she already regularly listens to Spotify, will this move accelerate her migration away from iTunes? It would not shock me at all. Can you see the "platform cliff"?

One little iPod and an email account, and it is game over for Apple. What will they do? Good question? We love our iPads, but they are not going to replace workhorse computers for school and office for some time, if ever. And no offense, but iWork's Pages and Numbers don't cut it. Even without a Chromebook, my daughter is already sharing science fair documents with her project team and is asking to video conference while joint editing (all in Google). Wouldn't it be ironic if someday a low cost Apple laptop running Office365 ended up as Apple's response?

In short, I am starting to look at Apple as the better run, modern version of Microsoft (aghhh!). Albeit better on every front, but stuck with a bloated OS, heavy client side applications, an "own-first" media model, and more complex with higher cost to own. Google and ChromeOS felt exactly the opposite, embracing of all that makes the cloud attractive ‒‒ lightweight, low hassle, streaming centric, easy to use, and cheap. Billions of dollars and years of Google R&D have reached a point of critical mass that is compelling, and a structural threat to Apple.

My heart is still with Apple ‒‒ I love their design and products ‒‒ but the early adopter (and pragmatist) in me is seeing a Google future. Certainly Apple is not going away anytime soon, but they have some serious work to do to address a threat that has been engineered in a way that will be very hard for them to emulate (can you say Maps?). Maybe I will at least lose that annoying fan-boy tag.

Going Hybrid, and I’m Not Talking about Cars (it’s about the Cloud) - The Cloud: Not Just for Startups AnymoreThe word "hybrid" typically conjures images of the Toyota Prius (only for now if Ford has anything to say about it), but in the world of enterprise software it is about evolving business models. Actually, and more importantly, going hybrid is about bringing more value to customers by providing them with choice -- the choice of cloud-based or on-premise software deployment models. Over the past several years we at Planview have put this hybrid approach at the core of our business. We have embraced SaaS as a transformational business initiative, but at the same time continue to embrace the on-premise model as well. Providing choice is ultimately about being customer-driven versus fighting industry-centric religious wars about business models and technologies. Without question, going hybrid has brought more value to our customers, partners, and shareholders. For more on this transition and how a cloud-hosted approach made it happen, see my recent article on WIRED.

The Cloud: Not Just for Startups Anymore

"Clearly cloud-based software solutions are here to stay. Whether in consumer or enterprise markets, the cloud has transformed the way we deploy and consume software applications. For enterprise customers, cloud-based software radically…" Read the full article.

A Product Positioning Case Study: The Real Reason the iPad Mini Was Steve Jobs' Biggest Nightmare

I have had my iPad mini for three days now, and it is an amazing device, one that has already fundamentally changed my daily productivity habits. Like most reviewers have pointed out, weight is the killer-app of the mini. It has hit a form factor sweet spot that inspires me to carry it all day from meeting to meeting as my primary mobile productivity device. I am experimenting with Evernote® and I am officially retiring my decades' long companions of a paper notebook and pen for meetings, which is huge because I like a nice pen and pad. As an owner of several iPads and a Dell XPS13 Ultrabook, I can also attest that neither of these excellent devices came close to inspiring such a fundamental shift. But under the surface of this breakthrough is a tectonic, post-Jobs change in product positioning strategy at Apple.iPhone 5 vs iPad Mini

For years Steve Jobs was anti-mini with the alleged push back centered on usability and ergonomics of smaller screens and human fingertips. Maybe that was the case, but I think something more philosophical may have been the reason. Steve Jobs was not only a zealot for clean, elegant design, but for clean, elegant positioning. The bright lines have always been very clear between Apple products. If you want a computer, you buy an iMac for the desktop or a MacBook as a laptop. The value propositions between the Shuffle, the Nano, and the Touch have always been distinct. And if you were looking for a mobile iOS device it was an iPhone or an iPad ‒‒ all very clear, neat, and tidy designed to make it easy for customers to choose. But in reality, there was no choice, the position was always made very obvious, and that was the beauty of the Apple consumer experience model.

The iPad mini just slammed a wrecking ball through that model and I am sure that Steve would not be happy about it. Don't get me wrong, I love the device for all kinds of reasons. It has without a doubt very quickly become my primary iPad. My original iPad and iPad2 have become family communal property to be polluted at will with episodes of iCarly, Fashionista games, and whatever other apps young girls can't live without. So where is the positioning problem? Sounds like a win-win for everyone.

In short, I never want to touch my iPad2 again and even worse, I am not sure I still want an iPhone (or at least not one like I have now). The iPad2 feels old, heavy, and clunky ‒‒ something I've never said about an Apple product. They need to bring a new one out fast!

But the real rub is the iPhone. Now I walk around all day carrying my mini and my iPhone as a pair. But wait, the mini is my primary device, and it does almost everything so much better than my iPhone. It is so far superior for checking e-mail, calendaring, and browsing that my iPhone feels like massive overkill. Within a day, I concluded that I wanted a simple little phone that does phone calls and allows me to text. I have almost no desire to run apps on my iPhone anymore! My phone is quickly going to become my application device in airports, and if I had an LTE mini it would be even worse.

The positioning bright line is gone. The simple buying experience is gone. Sure, we have always hoped for a better iMac, iPad, or iPhone, but now we are hoping for completely new products in new categories, like a basic, "non-smart" phone ‒‒ a "non-smart" phone that would put a $75B iPhone franchise at risk. If I had the LTE-iPad Mini, I am convinced I would no longer need a smart phone (but to be clear I definitely do not want to hold my iPad mini up to my ear like some kind of Galaxy Note mutant). Without the bright positioning lines consumers are confused about what to buy. I have talked to many Apple devotees who are unclear about the implications of buying an iPad mini, the use case trade-offs conflicting their brains. This phenomenon is long rampant in the WinTel world and mainstream consumer electronics, but it has never been the case with Apple.

This is where it is clear the Cook-era is firmly upon us: a rational, business-driven approach that frankly is hard to argue with, but is counter to Jobs-era of positioning products. In classic consumer packaged goods (CPG) strategy, brand managers look to cover every use case with brand extensions to maximize share of shelf space within retail channels. This is how we end up with 15 different kinds of Windex®, none of which we are sure is the original ‒‒ the only one we actually want to buy. With the iPad mini, Apple felt compelled to fill the shelf space, cover the competitive threat, and maximize revenue by covering every SKU ‒‒ it's textbook and makes perfect sense to Tim Cook (but not to Mr. Jobs).

We will have to see how it plays out, but what an amazing product positioning case study we are watching. Maniacal simplicity (Jobs) versus a classic CPG maturity model (Cook). Will it all be justified by higher revenue across all products? That is the theory. But what will be the impact on the Apple brand and its legacy of simplicity? Of course it will be hard to truly judge, but as a marketer we are watching the nexus of the Job instinct model versus the Cook analytical model. Will the the end justify the means or is it a slippery slope? You can hear the rationalization inside Apple, "It's ok this time, we need to respond to Google, and hey, it's a great product and we will make more revenue anyway." Hmmm…

Q1 Reflections

The beginning of any new year brings with it a familiar cadence of activities for our organization. Most revolve around ramping up a fiscal year with our sales team and launching the latest version of Planview Enterprise®. This annual cycle certainly represents one of the most intense times of the year. Preparing for sales and consulting meetings, launching the latest release, and the subsequent GA process make Q1 a big push across the country.

Part of our product launch plan is a comprehensive process of touching base and briefing all of the industry analysts that cover the portfolio management space. Every year, as the portfolio management segment continues to grow, this activity gets larger and larger. Globally, we are interacting with close to 30 analysts across a wide range of sectors. This body of work always provides interesting insights I thought I'd share a few highlights.

Enterprise software is a good place to be. In addition to introducing our latest products, part of these briefings is a review of our previous year performance as a company. We were fortunate to have a very strong 2011, a record year across most metrics. From our analyst meetings it was clear that we did better than average, but it was equally clear that enterprise software companies across the board had strong years. As we continue to read varying reports about the state of the economy, software is a strong sector. In short, organizations are still looking to drive efficiencies in their operations and focus their limited capital on innovation -- software is a good investment on both fronts.

Software as a Service (SaaS) continues to gain momentum and drive growth. It is no surprise that the cloud and SaaS are hot trends in software, but the full impact of this trend. We all read about the pure SaaS players that are the poster children for this trend may not be obvious. But the other side are the hybrid companies like Planview that for the past several years have aggressively retooled themselves to leverage the SaaS trend while continuing the commitment to new and existing on-premise customers. In 2011, SaaS represented over half of our new customers, and our SaaS offering created incremental new market opportunities that were not addressable before. The analysts I spoke with recognize that "established" software companies need to be hyper aggressive to serve this new landscape and this has been our approach.

Markets are built by best of breed players. Across the analyst community there is validation that portfolio management is seeing tremendous growth in traditional segments like IT and also in a variety of line-of-business (LoB) segments. IT product portfolio and program management (PPM) has been a vibrant market for many years and these new LoB segments are emerging markets that require commitment and investment to reach their full potential. In my conversations I think it is safe to say that it is the best-of-breed players, like Planview, that are making these investments. The mega-enterprise software players have too broad a product portfolio to apply the focus necessary. They are not agile enough to navigate the dynamics of these new segments. Someday they will look to harvest the opportunities created, but in the mean time, the best-of-breeds will drive forward. This is common in many categories; we are now living it in PPM.

Product Portfolio Management has "Crossed the Chasm." As mentioned previously, we are experiencing a period of rapid growth in the use of portfolio management. One of these areas is the use of PPM by product development teams looking to make the best pipeline selection decisions and ensure the optimal use of their precious engineering resources. This has been a growing trend, but during this year's analyst briefings there was a sense of critical mass to this conversation. Indeed, when posed the question, every analyst I spoke with agreed that this application of PPM has "crossed the chasm." I will spare everyone a lesson on the technology adoption lifecycle, but this is an important moment in the expansion of the portfolio management discipline. If you want to learn more, plan to attend PIPELINE 2012 on May 10.

Just a few observations from our annual analyst briefings, I hope you find them useful.

Are There Best Practices for Product Portfolio Management?

Written by Jim Brown, President & Founder, Tech-Clarity

Jim Brown

I recently did some research on how companies can take a practical path to improve PPM decision-making. I won't keep you guessing (if you were), there are some VERY good best practices that have been developed by the new product development (NPD) community. The research consists of interviews with three distinguished manufacturers in different industries, and they all concurred that the best approach is to start small with PPM and grow over time. The report, Improving Portfolio Decision-Making: Marrying PPM Best Practice Processes and Technology to Drive ROI, provides an overview on the value of PPM in addition to laying out a practical plan to leverage best practices tools and techniques to driver better portfolio decision-making and drive up company profitability.

The Research

During the research I had the pleasure of talking to several very knowledgeable PPM practitioners:

  • Don Kingsberry, Enterprise PMO, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (the man should really write a book, I told him I thought so)
  • Ian McKenna, IT Business Partner, Infineum (a joint venture between ExxonMobil and Shell)
  • The Manager of Quality Management, R&D, and Legal Applications for a medical device company (who unfortunately was not permitted to share his company name in the report, but I promise you I didn't make him up!)

The Value of Improving PPM

The first thing I discussed with them was why they invested in PPM in the first place. I had done some past research in this area, including Issue in Focus: The ROI of Product Portfolio Management, and thought it was important to start with the business in mind. I was very impressed with a statement from the participant from the medical device company. He saw PPM as his responsibility to be a steward for his company. How many companies would love to have that form of dedication, work ethic, and contribution from their employees? He offered that "PPM processes and tools help us be good stewards of our business. It costs a lot of money to develop products and we should do what we can to select them right and do them right -- because then we have more money to invest."

Mr. Kingsberry of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) has implemented PPM multiple times, and shared experiences from GMCR as well as past experiences where he says PPM has a "profound effect" and "each time I have found the return to exceed our expectations." He shared the history from one of his past experiences in a very large, well respected company saying "we cut millions of dollars of projects that were wasting time and we shouldn't have been working on. We got clarity on that immediately and had a huge multi-million dollar return in 6 months. PPM software and process help bring visibility to those things." What more can I say when people that have "been there and done that" are so positive on the value they received?

Taking the Practical Approach

One of the other key findings of the report is that too many companies overthink their PPM implementation. For some of you that know me, you might be falling out of your chairs! I am always a proponent of a well-planned, well thought out implementation. And my PPM benchmark research at Aberdeen Group showed that business processes and metrics were even more crucial to best in class PPM performance than in any other enterprise technology I have researched. So what gives? People need to understand that the goal of PPM is to provide better information, in a standard way, so people can make better decisions about product investments. Too often, even in my own experience when I ran product management for a software company, I have had people want a scoring algorithm to magically spit out an answer. Don't get me wrong, the metrics and analysis are very important. But they are just one input into a decision making process. As such, it's important to find out what information and metrics the decision-makers will actually use and trust (think simple versus black box voodoo) to make decisions.

In fact, the companies interviewed used some really straight-forward metrics that helped them make decisions. "We implemented fairly standard calculations, NPV (net present value) being an example," explained Mr. McKenna of Infineum. Don Kingsberry also suggested that based on his experience companies need to strive for simplicity, particularly as organizations get bigger.

The other aspect of simplification was to start small and grow. I heard this from every company I spoke with, they all agreed that you shouldn't do too much at once and go "big bang" with your PPM implementation. This is particularly true because companies are now integrating and extending PPM processes further into the front end of innovation and trying to develop a more integrated, streamlined innovation process. Now this is where I get back up on my soapbox about planning ahead. Just like with my "PLM Program Approach," you can start small and build -- but you had better have a plan for the bigger picture you are trying to achieve. You should also partner with a software company that can help provide the path to your larger objectives as you mature and improve. Don't paint yourself into a corner, you want to make sure your initial investments and learnings serve as a foundation for even move value over time.

Implications for Manufacturers

So what does this mean to manufacturers? First, there is a lot of value to be had from PPM. Second, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. There are very good methodologies and metrics available, and software solutions that encompass and enable them. Third, don't spend months trying to invent a process or algorithm that automatically makes portfolio decisions. That is not realistic and likely won't be used. Take the time to provide good, trusted, simple information in a consistent way so decision-makers can compare "apples to apples" when reviewing portfolios.

So that was a quick peek into some recent research on product portfolio management, I hope you found it interesting.

Note from Planview: If you would like to read Jim's full report, it is available here: Improving Portfolio Decision-Making: Marrying PPM Best Practice Processes and Technology to Drive ROI

Software's Role in Innovation

An Excerpt from "New Insights for Driving Innovation in Product Development" Webcast

This is part three of my three-part series on a recent Planview hosted Webcast titled "New Insights for Driving Innovation in Product Development: Is Your Organization a Lean, Mean, Innovating Machine?" featuring Sanjeev Pal, Research Manager of Product, Project and Portfolio Management Solutions at IDC, and me. Previously, I summarized our discussion of market trends and innovation. Now, let's talk about the role software can play in product innovation.

Software as a Solution

Sanjeev recommends that companies not only use industry-specific software, but software that understands the company's processes. Generic software won't be as effective or cost-efficient. Also, this software should be used in conjunction with the lean and operational improvement principles he discussed.

We then highlighted the role software can play in product innovation. Software can manage the mass amount of internal and external ideas companies receive. It links ideas to a product. Of course, not every idea is feasible within the current marketplace. Software allows companies to save these unused ideas for the future to continue the innovation process.

PLM and how product management software can help companies throughout the entire process was our next topic. Sanjeev illustrated steps within the product lifecycle related to product innovation:

  • Idea management
  • Product management
  • Virtual simulation of product
  • Product analytics
  • Supply management
  • Manufacturing process optimization
  • After market support

Although the process may vary, there should be a constant flow throughout the product lifecycle of innovation and collaboration. Also, this process doesn't just apply to manufacturers. Product development organizations want to know how to foster innovation and track it throughout the product life cycle as well.

Finally, Sanjeev offered his closing thoughts and recommendations. He predicts that the sluggish economy will continue and has already become the "new normal." Even if you implement several lean principles and practices, if you don't innovate, your company won't have a very secure future. He reiterates that this doesn't have to mean creating a brand new, game-changing product, but rather can occur through incremental innovation.

To hear more, listen to the podcasts on this topic at Software as a Solution Part 1 and Software as a Solution Part 2.

To learn more about the topics I've covered in this series, listen to the complete Webcast New Insights on Driving Innovation.

Related post: The Business of Innovation