An Indian software firm has been providing services to US market for last 10 years. The owner of the firm heard there is a demand for Healthcare Product for the Eastern European market and wanted to develop and sell a software product in the six months. The owner had few leads in hand for the new product.
The Organization does not have specialization in Eastern European markets. The Program Manager created a large program management with the state of the art technology. The Organization uses Agile methodology where the product managers worked closely with development team. The product managers conceptualized that the product will be sold in mid market segment. The product was built and released to sales. The organization recruited few sales members in Europe, established offices in few cities and involved in direct selling of the software.
The Organization could sell the product in the second year almost free. The organization completed a high level beta testing for the product and went with little hiccups.
However implementation took more time than expected. Development team kept receiving more change requests only to make drastic customization in the product. This leads to more development resources on the projects. The product cost increased and the organization had increased the licensing cost. As a result of this, prospects turned away from the deals.
Users found difficulty in adapting the product and felt that the product has never lived up to their expectations.
After few years of waiting and spending a few million Euros in advertisements and promotion, the Organization realized it wasted more resources in the product and scraped it.
What went wrong?
There are many reasons why the product and the Organization failed. A few are listed below.
1. Absence of Strategy v/s Tactical Operations:
The Organization spent least time in strategic activities and more time in tactical activities. The product manager’s have not performed any market research. This leads to incorrect understanding of the market requirements, customer’s expectation, and channel management. The organization spent more time in correcting the issues in product later, which turned out to be costly.
2. Poor Vision
The organization does not have a long term and short term vision. There is no clear cut product road map. As result of that the Organization could not have a clear cut hiring plan, could not hire key personal on time. The leads to issues in managing the project and delivering it.
3. Absence of Product Strategy
The product design was technically oriented than market oriented. The development team felt if the product has better technology, automatically customers will buy. The organization does not have a long term and short product strategy that incorporates functional, non functional, Usability, UI, security, documentation, implementation, licensing, configurable needs in the product. The development was adhoc and there is no architectural framework involved in the design. This leads to poor product design.
4. Lack of understanding of Customer requirement v/s market requirements
The product requirements were taken from the customer, which was different from the market requirements and does meet current the market trends. The product manager’s do not how to gather and analyze competitive, licensing, legal, cultural non functional, usability needs and incorporate in the product Strategy. As a result of this, the product manager’s have delivered a ‘Me-Too’ and customer specific product without any differentiation, which did not interest the prospects.
5. Lack of qualified product management team
The product management team was not aware of the strategy principles, market research and providing a differentiated, low cost product for a focussed market. The product strategy was influenced by technology.
6.Lack of GTM readiness
The Organization designed a poor Go To Market strategy for the mid market segment. The organization does not have any resources with European market knowledge or experience.
The Organization has not spend effort and time learning the new market or analyzing the buying behaviours of the target market segment or training it’s resources in the European market. The Organization has not mobilized it’s different departments for the go to market.
The beta testing for the product was carried out for functional testing. It was customer oriented than market oriented. The Organization has not done beta testing for the usability and UI. This absence of usability feedback created issues in adaptability of the product.
7. Expensive Implementation
The product team built the features for the mid market segment. But true demand was in the lower and higher market segments.
– The product does not have any configurable tools in the product, which further made it difficult to configure for needs of other market segments. As a result of this gap, the implementation customized each feature, which took long time with the initial customers.
– Sales could not sell to other prospects
8. Support Troubles
The implementation team has customized the product to the needs of every customer. This leads to more support issues. The Organization spent more money in the long term than the money it received from customers.
9. Expensive Channel
Direct selling approach of the Organization leads to more expenses. It did not spend time in researching the indirect low cost channels partners. Ideally they could have recruited few persons in India on cost marketing methods. The marketing team have not spent resources on creating a brand image.
10. Lack of product management process
The Organization does not have a structured product management process. Their understanding of agile is incorrect and they have hurried up designing a product without understanding the market’s expectations.
11. Ineffective Pricing
The management increased the software price based on the higher cost of production. It has not performed complete competitive price analysis or economic value analysis. The cost based pricing was higher than competitors and leads to loss of prospects.
12. Management’s support
The management did not know the challenges in developing a new product. It set a deadline based on it’s project management expertise. The time was too short to conceptualize, design deliver a product. Due to unrealistic deadline, the team has delivered customer specific project than a product, which has killed the product.
Rather than scraping the product, the management should have spend time in auditing existing practices, analyzing the root causes of the issues, learning from the mistakes, providing adequate training to resources, correcting them and then improving the product.