Balancing Product Expectations with Constituents

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is great from an engineering perspective because of the economies of scale from a low-friction release process (release early and often!) as well as controlling all aspects of the datacenter/cloud servers (more time is spent on the product instead of issues outside of your control found with installed enterprise software). With great power comes great responsibility. One of the biggest challenges is balancing expectations from all the different constituents involved like customers, marketing, sales, prospects, analysts, etc.

Here are a few tactics for balancing product expectations with constituents:

  • Find the right trade-off between committing to certain features with a timeline and maintaining the flexibility to quickly adjust the priorities
  • Consider using tools like an idea exchange (e.g. UserVoice) so that customers can submit and vote on features they want
  • Develop a customer advisory council and solicit feedback from them in-person or over the phone once per quarter
  • Share a product vision and high-level future features once per year at a user conference

Balancing product expectations with constituents is difficult. With so many different demands and opinions it’s challenging to make everyone happy. The key isn’t that everyone needs to be happy, but rather that the product has a strong vision in general and everyone understands where things are headed and why it’s headed there. Clarity and direction is key.

What else? What are some other tactics for balancing product expectations with constituents?

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