Archives for posts with tag: Trust

You’re familiar with the phrase ‘who’s policing the police?’. One thing that has recently taxed my brain is this: who’s watching the recycling?

As a nation, Ireland is pretty decent at recycling household waste. Better than the Brits and way better than the Americans, not as good as our Teutonic friends.

Our actual waste wheelie bin is dwarfed in weight by our recycling bin, which goes out every fortnight full to the brim, if bins have brims. We’re very good, as a family I think, at reducing, reusing and recycling.

But, just because we recycle well as a family, that don’t mean a thing once our bin’s contents are upended into the recycling waste truck. What happens then?

I sure as heck don’t know. For all I know, they might be throwing the recycling into landfill. Maybe people aren’t as judicious with their recycling and are adding items that can’t be recycled. How are the waste companies sorting the different types of recycled material? Are they removing non-recyclable stuff? Again, I don’t know. We’re trusting in a process that we have no visibility of whatsoever.

We’re pleased with ourselves at how good we are at recycling, yet we’re not actually recycling. We’re starting the recycling process but we’ve no idea how it ends, or in fact how much of it ends.

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What do you understand by the term ‘product roadmap’? There are lots of definitions, some narrow and some broad, some internally focused and some market- or customer-focused. And how detailed should a product roadmap be? Should it pin your detailed colours to the mast, or should it be high level, allowing you room for manoeuvre?

I think that over time B2B customers have become somewhat desensitised towards product roadmaps. This is especially true in the software industry where the sheer complexity and number of moving parts, combined with the influences of individual customers, conspire to make roadmap projections aspirational at best and at worst downright misleading and fictional.

The pressures on the business in a dynamic landscape are changing all the time, and I’ve seen businesses where products or product enhancements have arrived 2 or 3 years after they were advertised to come on stream.

But back to product roadmap definitions. The one I use when asked this question defines a product roadmap as a plan of product or platform developments, delivered through a release mechanism – which could be a few or several times a year – through properly managed projects and programmes. After all, you’ve got to be sure that all the parts of the business can fulfil their element of the whole product solution. In other words, the roadmap should really be about when new releases are delivery ready, not sales ready. By all means seed the market, and build the demand to allow for the natural lag of a sales cycle, but publish your roadmap based around genuine availability.

Customers love to see detailed roadmaps, but only if you actually can commit to the associated timings, otherwise the trust quickly evaporates. Just like in sales, you’re only as good as your last quarter. Software development never seems to build in any buffer for the inevitable bumps in the road – probably because the front of the business is pushing for the earliest possible delivery date – and when those bumps occur, it’s very hard to get back on track. That’s why I fall back on the principle of under-promise and over-deliver to customers, and pushing back to the business. The customer comes first, so I’m in favour of high level roadmap pronouncements that strike the right balance between demonstrating progress and allowing wiggle room, so you can be on time, on brief, and maybe even on budget.

Empty Promise - No Paper

Empty Promise – No Paper

Don’t make empty promises, promises you know you can’t keep.

Don’t offer things you don’t have. You’ll create a need for something that people now want but that you can’t deliver.

Don’t invite people to use your resource sparingly and then have none of that resource available.

If you run out of something, remove the notice or label it refers to, or amend your stock to say – yes, you’ve guessed it – ‘out of stock’.

These are all easy things you can do.

Remember, you’re looking to establish a relationship with your customer, one based on trust and the mutual expectation that each can deliver their side of the bargain. Don’t blow it by failing to do the easy stuff.

Otherwise, you run the risk of phantom marketing, creating demand which you can’t satisfy. You’ll annoy your audience, turn them off and break whatever bond you had built up. Then you’ll have to work doubly hard to get it back.