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How To Avoid the Product “Version 1 and Done” Dilemma

version 1 product

You followed the textbook process for uncovering an unmet market need, justified the financial investment and successfully released product version 1 to market with great success. So, what’s the problem?

The problem is you’re just getting started while the majority of your stakeholders are blissfully dusting off their hands thinking it’s done and eager to tackle the next product idea with carbon-copy expectations of success.

The Product Version 1 and Done Dilemma – Root Causes!

The backgrounds and experiences of your stakeholders definitely come into play. The other bigger culprit though is the lack of a longer-term plan and the communication of that plan up front.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed and it’s a problem in B2B SaaS companies. There’s still a lot of consumer product mindset in the B2B space, especially among investors or even executives with consumer product backgrounds. They’re of the opinion that a string of home run products is the only way to drive growth. 

In B2B/B2B2C it’s more about making customers better at their business in ways that have operational and strategic value, an approach that doesn’t always require a constant string of new products to get the same growth results. 

Consumer product management is more like a series of proverbial sprints with new products where B2B product management is more analogous to a marathon of adding chunks of value to existing products with a new products peppered in to keep pace.

Version 1 Products Need a Vision and Strategic Roadmap

The easiest way to avoid the version 1 product dilemma is to describe what the product will ultimately help customers accomplish, why that outcome is valuable, and in pecking order, the biggest obstacles standing in the way of that outcome. 

Go through the same exercise as it relates to the value for your company. Both components collectively form the vision for the product.

The strategic roadmap is the next layer down. It represents a high-level timeline of the obstacles that will be addressed in subsequent releases, how they move the needle on the ultimate outcome for the customer and the value back to your organization.

In other words, you’re communicating clearly and succinctly to stakeholders right up front that success requires more than the version 1 product. It comes down to setting proper expectations at the onset and getting buy-in. 

Without that level of buy-in, you’d have to ask yourself if a “version 1 and done” product would give you more headaches than no product at all. 

Product Management Leading by Example

You might be thinking the above scenario of starting with a vision and strategy is just what product managers do. It’s part of the job. In theory, you’re 100% correct but in many organizations, it’s by far the exception, not the rule.

In fact, one of the easiest ways to start leading more by example is to establish a vision for every product that’s centered on quantifiable customer outcomes. Pair it with a rolling 2-3-year strategic roadmap (devoid of features) that outlines the biggest problems you’ll address to get customers to those outcomes.

That level of direction gives your product marketing, sales and customer success teams a desperately needed vision and value story to better attract new customers and encourage the ones you have to keep paying.

If you want your product management team to up the ante on leading by example, contact us about learning the simplest way possible to establish a vision for each product along with a rolling 2-3 year strategic roadmap that’ll stick!

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by John Mansour on February 1, 2024.