Eight Vital Facts about Product Line Strategies

By Paul O’Connor

Interested in Product Line Strategies or Product Line Roadmaps?

Eight Important Facts You Must Know

  1. Don’t expect one-off developments to beat competitors’ multi-generational plans. Being good at innovation and project execution won’t matter. Good product line strategies always trounce single-product strategies.
  2. Rolling up project plans into a single roadmap does little to make effective strategy. Teams must first address their product line strategy’s core. This includes platform leverage, attribute positioning, and cross-organization alignment.
  3. Holding onto assumptions too long is a common reason for product line failure. All assumption lose their truth. Product line teams know their assumptions. They should also spot when an assumption is no longer true.
  4. Creativity and critical thinking couple to future-oriented strategic thinking are important. Together, these are the fuel to create product line strategies. They enable greater customer satisfaction, stronger competitive positioning, and improved cash flows.
  5. Clarifying platform-levers is necessary to gaining “leverage.” Platform leverage enables faster development, lower cost, and greater product performance. This is more powerful than a single product or innovation. Failure to clarify platforms leads to lackluster performance.
  6. Product line strategies with sharp execution plans are key to good portfolio management. Portfolio management should address two critical questions. Does the project portfolio enable product lines to carry out their strategies on time? Are people working on projects not critical to a strategy?
  7. Good product line strategies need good idea generation. They also need rapid experimentation and testing. Front-end serendipity should influence this work, not be the work.
  8. Good product line strategies align with non-product strategies. Teams should pay attention to the alignment. It can demand functions to change. These include sales, manufacturing, finance, branding, and intellectual property. Misalignment can be fatal to product line performance.

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