Prioritizing product ideas in a portfolio
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to a hundred other good ideas.” Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple
How do you determine which product fits best with your other products? Look for them at the intersection of strategy and market.
Product managers often look for a financial calculation where one doesn’t exist. Instead integrate the company strategy with the needs of your target buyer (persona). Does that idea align with your company strategy? Does it extend your portfolio in a meaningful way? Do your customers expect you to deliver something like this?
Let's consider a tangible example.
Apple makes computers, tablets, and phones. And also products that complement them, which explains the Apple Watch, Apple Pencil, iPad keyboard, AirPods (wireless ear pods), and so on. iTunes music and video offerings lead to revenue but, more importantly, lead to more sales of Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. Likewise, Apple Watches and AirPods lead to more iPhone sales.
Look at it from a persona point of view. From what’s happening with iPad and related products, it seems Apple is focusing on the mobile professional: Allowing the iPhone to be a hotspot. Putting everything in the cloud so I can access my files from anywhere. Leveraging the iPad from a consumption device to a creation device—increasing the importance for keyboard and Pencil.
Strategically, these new offers increase sales of their primary products. The Apple Watch may not be as important for revenue by itself as for the uplift in phone sales.
So if I were working the portfolio planning, I’d be looking at which of many product ideas both complement the portfolio strategy and provide customers everything they need for a complete solution.
Consider the “complete solution” for a laptop. Easy to set up. Lightweight. Comes with a really nice, easy-to-use alternative to Microsoft Office. Automatically syncs all your files so you can edit them on your phone, tablet, or computer. Plug in a USB drive and automatically backup your files with no setup.
I’m not saying Apple is doing everything right. Or that Apple products are "better" than others. In fact, I wish they would be more generous with RAM and cloud storage, but then I’m a power user, not a novice. But for their target personas, Apple delivers a complete solution that meets the needs of their buyers.
So… complete solution for a specific type of customer. How do you choose? Obviously, you’ll start with understanding the buyers (“personas”) and what they’re trying to accomplish (“jobs to be done”). Then to prioritize a number of product ideas, use ASPIRE+SOAR for opportunity scoring.
Consider these 10 aspects of an idea, particularly when integrating a portfolio.
Are you building the right products?
There are always more ideas than resources, whether at home, in your business, or in the government. We need a pragmatic approach to defining the best opportunity. Use this Opportunity Assessment on your planned developments and see what score each gets. And then use the results to discuss any changes necessary for the best portfolio mix.