Offering development

Some offerings start life as one person's vision. Some arise from the painstaking analysis of customer needs. Others evolve from simple ideas and one-off tools. Most pass through a period of informal development, where activity is directed by the visionary's intuition or specific customer requirements, and market needs are incorporated "on the hoof".

 
But, sooner or later, if a quality offering is to be delivered into the market in any volume, a plan must be produced that defines the "whole product", including technical and marketing documentation, implementation methodologies, release strategies, timescales and the business model. This plan must then be put into practice. 


ChangeBEAT's ExecKIT® Offering Development Methodology helps you to develop (or verify) your own offering development plan. Whether for a simple service or a complex solution suite, ExecKIT® enables you to get a complete new offering to market quickly and effectively. 


Offering definition 


Without a clear definition of a proposed new offering, management cannot confidently commit resources to its development nor can development resources be effectively applied. 


As a minimum the offering definition must include 


A business case 


A clear statement is needed of the return on investment (ROI) that the offering will provide based on projected costs and revenues and well defined and quantifiable customer benefits. 


Contents 


The offering's deliverables need to be specified. This might describe the functionality of a piece of hardware, or a software suite, a standard service offering, customised consultancy in a particular domain or a combination. 


Pricing, packaging and delivery 


There needs to be a crisp summary of how the offering will be priced, packaged and delivered, and how it will be kept fresh with enhancements and new releases. 


In this ExecKIT® module ChangeBEAT helps you to create a management regime to ensure that potential offerings are well defined before resources are committed to development. 


Offering design 


Poor design is a prime reason for offerings failing in development or in the marketplace. Good, elegant design prevents unnecessary complexity and ensures everything that the customer needs to deliver is included. 


In this ExecKIT® module ChangeBEAT helps you adopt good offering design practice in these areas. 


Requirements definition 


Based on input from potential customers, a statement of what the offering must deliver to realise the anticipated benefits. 


Offering specification 


The capabilities that the offering must contain and how these are grouped and organised. 


Technical architecture 


Technical constraints or assumptions that could limit the market or attractiveness of the offering. 


Services and documentation 


The services, after-sales support, customer training, documentation and other ancillary deliverables required to make the offering complete. 


Risks and dependencies 


What pitfalls are there in implementing this design and what are the key assumptions it rests on? 


Planning and costing 


Bringing an offering from definition and design to market acceptance is costly and risky. You must plan and manage everything that is needed to make the offering successful in the marketplace. 


For example, marketing materials, customer training, implementation and post-delivery support can be just as important to the customer as the core offering. In addition you need to manage a diverse set of risks identified in the solution design, and of course, until the product is successful in the market, no money is coming in. 


It is essential to have a realistic, comprehensive plan with

  • A clear project scope

  • An accurate work breakdown structure

  • Realistic estimates of time and cost

  • A reliable means for managing project scope through a change management process

  • Management of the risks preventing market acceptance

With this ExecKIT® module ChangeBEAT helps you bring together the people to create a plan that encompasses every aspect of offering development. 


Offering pricing 


Setting the right price for a product or service is often seen as more of an art than a science. While any pricing decision will include an element of judgement, there are techniques that can be used to set a price that maximises profits. The method you use to price will depend on a number of factors including

  • The intensity of competition and how well your offering is differentiated.

  • The maturity of the market and the balance of priority between gaining share and maximising profit.

  • Your position in the market. Are you the established leader or a new entrant?

  • Do you have a current customer base to consider?

  • The power balance between vendor and customer. Can you price on value or will the customer insist on a price based on cost?

In this ExecKIT® module ChangeBEAT helps you methodically work through these questions and set the right price.


Development 


Once solution development is authorised, a cross-functional team must be formed of people who will contribute to your ability to market, sell, deliver and support the offering. Some important questions must be resolved.

  • What skills and expertise, budget and resources are needed?

  • How will team members be recruited and the necessary resources be provided?

  • How should the team be organised and what are the lines and limits of authority?

  • What will be the reporting and escalation route for the solution development team?

  • What management controls and checkpoints are needed?

  • How will conflicts between the needs of the solution development team and functional management be resolved?

In this ExecKIT® module ChangeBEAT helps you to organise a team, with the right level of resources and the management infrastructure to deliver the solution, ready to go to market. 


Monitor control and report 


During the offering development process you need to know that the budget is being spent wisely, that the team is on-track to create a winning offering, and that all contributors to the development of the solution are working effectively as a team. A vital activity, therefore, is the effective monitoring, control and reporting of the project. The offering development team leader must:

  • monitor the project; that is, know how it is progressing against the plan

  • control the project; making necessary adjustments to the plan to stay on track, and controlling the scope of the project in view of inevitable pressures for change

  • report progress; that is, make the key stakeholders aware of how the project is progressing.

In this ExecKIT® module ChangeBEAT helps you set up appropriate monitoring and control processes and tools, and reporting standards for an offering development project. 


Testing 


The cost of correcting errors escalates rapidly through the lifecycle of an offering, with errors found in the field costing much, much more to fix and, more importantly, with negative consequences on the customer. 


Of course, errors occur in documentation, installation processes and so on, as well as in hardware and software (where the testing effort is usually focused). It follows that testing is best "planned in" to the offering development process to ensure not only that the components of the offering work to specification, but also that they work properly together. 


Testing is costly and takes many forms: unit testing; integration testing; functional testing; system testing; regression testing; acceptance testing; performance testing; usability testing and so on. For your offering, what is the most effective combination of testing options? 


This ExecKIT® module helps you to plan and perform the testing that will make your offering successful in the marketplace, driving down costs, while improving quality and customer loyalty. 


Launch 


Before your offering is launched, you need to be confident that it is stable and that all completion activities are under control. You will also need to have plans for volume production, delivery, training and support. The control of the early release and support process can greatly affect the perception of the offering. Best practice is to have a phased launch process with

  • Defined steps up to the release and launch

  • An explicit statement of the conditions and authorisation for release and launch (often known as a gateway review)

  • Standards and a process for the launch itself

  • Well defined post-launch steps to correct any teething or market acceptance problems

  • A post-launch review to learn lessons which should be applied to future offering developments

This ExecKIT® module helps you to implement best practice for launching an offering, creating positive early market perception and rapid transfer from development to support. 


Training 


The success of a new offering depends on providing the right training to: a) your own people in order that they can sell, support and service the offering and b) your customers, so that they can use it. 


Training development must be integrated with the development of the offering, if it is to be available when the offering is launched. 


Piloting and prototyping of training is always recommended, so it is important to give training developers access to early offering specification and pre-releases, but this needs to be managed to avoid disrupting the core development effort. 


The format and content of training needs to be considered. Do you need formal classroom training, individual self-study, web-based training, a teach the teachers (TTT) programme. How do you make the training effective and avoid "Death by PowerPoint". Or is the offering truly intuitive to use, so no end-user training at all is required? 


This ExecKIT® module helps you to implement best practice for training development, to ensure customers can quickly benefit from the offering and you are ready to sell, support and service the offering at launch. 


Offering support 


Good support adds value to your offering and provides a profitable ongoing revenue stream. Poor support leads to chaos, escalating costs and irate customers. 


You have to decide what level of support you need to provide, and how much you will charge for support. You need to consider

  • How critical is the support for your customers?

  • Are you looking for support to be a cost you manage, or a revenue stream you want to maximise?

  • Have you thought through how you will position free defect correction support, as opposed to chargeable assistance support?

Depending on the answers, you may wish to provide

  • A dedicated support office, available around the clock

  • A website - providing instant on-line support, but impersonal and less flexible

  • Desk-side support, available in business hours only

  • Ad hoc support

  • A combination of all of these

In this ExecKIT® module ChangeBEAT helps you to create and operate truly effective post-sales support.

Definition gives confidence
Good design assures customer value
Planning reduces costs and risks 
Ensure your price is profitable and competitive
Build and support the delivery team
Planning the tests is critical to success
Control the launch of your new offering
Develop the necessary training for your new offering
Offering support can enhance reputation and revenue 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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