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I often sit in meetings and listen to different companies talk about their next product release and how great a product it will be and how much the market is waiting for it, etc. etc.  Then I start asking questions like – How long has this product been under development?  What problems is the release solving in the market?  What prospects have you taken this product into and discussed the solution set to?

Most companies can answer pretty quickly how long the product has been under development and how much that development effort has cost them to date.  However, when I get to the questions about what problems the release is solving and what prospects they have talked to – I tend to get a look that quickly says “Solving problems?”…

Solving problems is why we develop products and bring them to the market.  Yet I am amazed at how often companies develop the next version of software because —  well, because they needed a new version.  Requirements are based on what the competitors are doing or worse, they are based on what the companies existing customer base says they want.

A little bit of thinking up front and spending some cycles talking with prospects will go a long way on the back-end of a requirements document that ensures the product you are bringing to the market actually solves problems that exist within your market.  After all, isn’t that why we develop products?

Tune in to your markets.