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Delivering the Product Roadmap

Four Recommended Articles for Product Development Success

As we quickly transition into the second quarter of 2013, I wanted to share several informative articles from some terrific innovation publications including Innovation Management, Enterprise Apps Today, and Intelligent HQ. A couple of the articles feature insights and recommendations from the newly released Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study; another promotes continued awareness and best practices for meeting launch windows and getting products to market faster, and the last shares key ways to improve your decision making process.

  1. Product Portfolio Management: Getting Products to Market Faster
    Featured earlier this month in Enterprise Apps Today, this article provides insight based on last fall's Issue In Focus: Meeting Product Launch Windows research report. Jim Brown, president of Tech-Clarity, shares how product portfolio management software can help organizations more quickly launch new products.

    Read the article on Enterprise Apps Today.
  2. From Chaos to Control: New Research Reveals the Global State of Resource Management and Capacity Planning
    This article reviews the results from the Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study, identifying best practices to avoid wasting resources on the wrong opportunities.

    Read the article on and learn how to help your organization stop wasting resources.
  3. Interview with Planview: How does your company's maturity level impact innovation?
    IntelligentHQ interviewed Jerry Manas, bestselling business author, and Maureen Carlson, chief researcher, to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Study.

    Access the interview on IntelligentHQ and gain insight into your company's maturity level.
  4. Equipped to Face Tough Portfolio Decisions in 2013
    As part of the eLearning program with, this article revisits the three things your product organization can do to improve decision making this year.

    "If you manage a product portfolio, it's likely you have tough decisions to make in 2013. How will you make the tradeoffs, such as killing underperforming products and funding new ones? Do you have the data to make the right decisions?"

    Continue reading on

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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

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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.

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!

Product Companies Share Their Priorities, Risks, and Pains of Innovation in a New Study

Written by Maureen Carlson, Partner at Appleseed

Maureen Carlson

Is it appropriate for product-based organizations to make improvised decisions when they don't have visibility or access to proper data or metrics? Do product leaders have the resources for priority projects to drive innovation and growth? Is it possible that underperforming projects continue to consume precious resources? According to the industry’s third Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study, the majority of product leaders struggle with these concepts and are eager to gain control of the innovation process in an economy that requires faster, smarter innovation with limited to no addition in resources.

3rd Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study Infographic

A compilation of 320 product development executives and managers from around the world shared their priorities, risks, and pain points around product portfolio management (PPM) creating a sample size that allowed us to draw specific conclusions about the product development population. The following topics represent a snapshot of the study's key findings. Download the full study methodology, demographics, additional results, findings, and recommendations.

Key Challenges

For the third time and by a wider margin this year, the top three pain points are:

  1. Too many projects for resources (68%)
  2. Not being able to drive innovation fast enough (53%)
  3. Decisions that go back and forth and get made late or ineffectively (56%)

These challenges affect one another and expose the fact that many organizations still do not have access or visibility to the data and consistent metrics needed to prioritize projects, drive innovation without adding resources, and ultimately drive winning products to market. Many organizations continue to report on the challenge to kill underperformers and properly allocate resources the highest value projects -- these are just a few dilemmas facing product-focused companies today.

The Risks

Product executives from around the globe identified the following as the greatest risks when managing a product portfolio:

  1. Managing changing priorities as business conditions change (61%)
  2. Not cutting lower value projects that take away resources from more strategic projects (53%)
  3. Missing the voice of the customer and developing the wrong products (52%)

The results signify that there are serious challenges with data-driven decision-making because of the lack of data or the inability to access or synthesis it. Product leaders should consider how they currently approach portfolio scenario analysis and ideation management techniques. It's crucial for these companies to maximize limited resources against the highest return (both strategic and profitable) projects and to ensure that in this day and age of multiple avenues to capture the customer voice that opportunities are not missed -- thus the competition gains first mover advantage.


Participants were asked to rate their accuracy of forecasting in terms of Costs, Schedule, and Expected Revenue.

  • Fifty-four percent rated their organization as accurately projecting costs
  • More than one-third of participants rated themselves mostly inaccurate at projecting schedule
  • Only twenty-eight percent rated their organization as being accurate at forecasting expected revenue

There are significant ramifications to business decision making over the usage of finite resources based on inaccurate forecasting information. While more than half were positive on the ability to project costs, only one-third are confident in revenue forecasts. The full report considers several questions as to why revenue projections are off: overzealous projections to get products approved; inaccurate average selling prices; or schedule impacts that negatively affect revenue performance? By having better ability to analyze scenarios, risk may be reduced.


Nearly half of the respondents reported that they are somewhat poor to very poor in their ability to manage and forecast resource capacity accurately. With nearly 70% of participants stating that too many projects for their resources as their number one pain point, this is undoubtedly a key concern for organizations. The underlying challenge to effective resource capacity planning is projects that compete for the same resources and sales-driven "just do it" projects that are not on the product roadmap. The bottom-line here is that visibility and scenario analysis are paramount, or this trend will continue.


As we look at the trends in benchmarking the results since 2009, there is an increasing acknowledgment in the risk of relying on tools such as spreadsheets and project tools, which are unfit for the complex job of multi-product companies and their product portfolio management. The study shows that the use of Automated Product Portfolio Management Systems has doubled since 2010 and evaluation of PPM solutions expanded six-fold in the same period! It would be wise to consider how your competition is viewing the challenge and the opportunity. Could addressing PPM more effectively become a competitive differentiator?

Companies around the globe are recognizing the need to gain a tighter grip on the ins and outs of their product portfolios and gain visibility to make better business decisions to remain competitive. Companies require consistent processes, tools, and metrics to improve data availability, accuracy, and visibility. The full report goes into more recommendations and potential holistic or piecemeal approaches that companies may take to gain more control over their product pipelines and innovation plans.

Download the 3rd Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Survey conducted in February 2012 by Appleseed Partners and OpenSky Research and commissioned by Planview, Inc.

I’d like to hear from you. How does your organization compare to those who participated in the survey? What are your priorities, risks, and pains when it comes to innovation? Answer by leaving a comment below.

The Crucial Brand-Building Role of Sustainable Product Development

Written by Steven Cristol, Founder and Managing Partner
of Strategic Harmony® Partners

Steven Cristol

A hopeful but volatile 2012 confronts all product development professionals with an immutable truth: companies can no longer effectively manage their brands without proactively managing sustainability. Brand reputation and appeal increasingly depend on it. For products companies, it's the products that comprise the vast majority of total corporate environmental footprint. So it won't be the CMO or slick advertising that leads the way in persuading your customers that your company is walking the talk on sustainable business practices. It will be you, and the decisions you make -- decisions on what new products and features to approve, and how sustainably they will be designed, sourced, made, distributed, and disposed of or re-used.

Gartner, the technology analyst firm, recently released compelling new research¹ on achieving competitive advantage through sustainable business. One of their top three recommendations is building an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to sustainability. But what does "integrated" really mean from a product portfolio management perspective?

Sustainable Portfolio ManagementIt may seem obvious that it means sustainability decisions can't be made in a vacuum. If obvious, then why are most sustainability assessments still segregated from core portfolio assessments such as overall customer impact, competitive impact, cost, and risk? Less obvious is the fact that true integration also requires something more -- something explained beautifully the other day by a very articulate VP-Corporate Social Responsibility. He said to me, "Even with all we've achieved as a sustainability leader, until now without the right portfolio management tools we didn't have a way for our product development teams to systematically encounter sustainability criteria early in the portfolio decision cycle." His engineers were culturally conscious about sustainability considerations, but needed a platform for concept evaluation to assess trade-offs within sustainability criteria as well as trade-offs between sustainability and other customer requirements; hence, systematic.

That's how a lithium-ion battery manufacturer, for example, sees that proposed new battery "Concept A" is more sustainable than what it replaces and yet still will improve customer experience on other key criteria as well, while Concept B, only slightly more sustainable, makes too many performance compromises. But the product development VP also had to know that the reason both concepts were more sustainable than their current product is lower toxicity and less energy use in production, even though water use would be somewhat higher. The key was looking at systematic trade-offs both inside and outside sustainability in an integrated assessment of the development portfolio.

Managing sustainable product development as part of a larger portfolio management system also means giving sustainability expertise a seat at the table right alongside cross-functional team members from engineering, product management, and marketing early in product development decisions before it gets much more expensive to make mid-course corrections. Back to the Gartner recommendation: multidisciplinary, which now includes sustainability -- extending across the C-suite. (I discussed the CIO role in a previous post titled, How Portfolio Management Can Maximize CIO Contribution to Shareholder Value.)

What's the return for sustainable product development? Not just stronger brands, stronger customer relationships, and the premium pricing and investor confidence that accrues to that, but also better employee attraction, retention, and satisfaction. In short, sustainability propels shareholder value and brand success. I hope they are both yours in 2012 and beyond.

¹ Gartner, Inc. (Stephen Stokes and Simon Mingay), "Achieving Competitive Advantage Through the Pursuit of Sustainable Business," December 2011.

Will Your Product Development Portfolio Over-Deliver on Customer Benefits?

Written by Steven Cristol, Founder and Managing Partner
of Strategic Harmony® Partners

Steven Cristol

It's a notion counter to everything in our marketing bones, but sometimes our obsession for delighting customers can actually be too much of a good thing. From a product portfolio perspective, I wouldn't go quite as far as the recent Harvard Business Review article, "Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers" (Jul-Aug 2010 issue). But this is a serious product development issue: with limited resources, every time a product or service over-delivers on one customer benefit, it increases the probability of under-delivering on another. And lurking in that resource misallocation is vulnerability for your brand.

At the simplest level, over-delivery is providing any customer benefit in excess of what is required to attract and keep customers. So how do you know -- before the product is built (and long before customer satisfaction research sometime after launch)? The answer is quite straightforward if you already score your product development projects in terms of alignment with specific customer benefits (drivers of brand choice that define ideal customer experience -- e.g., easy to use, reliable, etc.) and if you know your current competitive standing on each benefit (e.g., superior to competitors, inferior, or parity).

Armed with those basics, you can look at how all product features on a roadmap (or headed for it) are aggregately aligned with each benefit. When doing this, we often see that the bigger product improvements are on one or more benefits where the company is already the clear leader. Meanwhile, that same roadmap is under-delivering on benefits where competitors are at parity or even ahead. Analyzing total roadmap delivery by benefit also helps prevent over-delivering on, say, the #4 most important benefit to your customers while under-delivering on #1 -- another all-too-frequent outcome without such analysis. 

Human nature: we love doing things we're already great at. But when this happens in excess in product development, the brand often ends up extending its lead on customer benefits that it's already comfortably superior on while opening itself to competitive attacks on other key benefits. So by all means let's delight customers with next year's new products. But let's do it in proportion to the relative importance of each customer benefit and where your brand needs the most help competitively.

The Product Pulse: What's in a Name?

Welcome to The Product Pulse, our new blog focused on innovation and optimizing the product portfolio.

As you probably know, we didn't just pick this name out of a hat. We held a contest open to the world to help us pick the right name. We had come up with what we thought were some great ideas… but "The Product Pulse" came from one of you. Which is so fitting, because we want this to be a community of interaction on cool topics that matter to the product development community.

So, what about this particular name and tagline manifested the Eureka moment? It came down to a couple of key words, to wit:

  • "Pulse" -- product development teams are living organisms, they have a pulse that is rarely in a state of relaxation (in fact, most of the development teams that I have been a part of spend much more of their time closer to peak heart rate!). Cranking out new products and maintaining existing ones, working to keep existing customers delighted, striving to attract new customers, and driving to establish competitive advantage -- these all keep the heart pumping. My guess is that we are all accustomed to the "pulse."
  • "Innovation" -- here's a loaded word for sure. Innovation has reemerged after a period of cost-focused survival as the number one priority for most product organizations. Innovation is at the heart of what we do, it's the payoff that gets most of us come to work every day, to bring new ideas to market in a way that fuels the success of our customers and our companies. Seems pertinent for us to talk "innovation."
  • Finally, the "Product Portfolio" -- this is where the rubber hits the road. None of us have the luxury of being able to focus exclusively on introducing the newest, latest products to market. Whether or not we refer to it as such, we all manage a "portfolio" of new, mature, successful, struggling, and long-in-the tooth products. How we optimize our performance given this reality is typically the most challenging aspect of our jobs. The everyday trade-offs demanded by our portfolios is our reality and we hope to share ideas on managing this process.

So that's where this blog is starting: rooted in these concepts. We look forward to seeing what it grows into, with your participation. We hope you will find this to be a unique place to engage with peers and thought leaders on the full range of topics that encompass the idea-to-launch-to-ongoing support processes associated with maximizing innovation and managing the product portfolio. Ultimately we hope that you learn (and share!) a few things that make your team more successful and your job a little easier. Thanks for joining us!