Product development lifecycle never ends; it merely evolves to accommodate your customers’ changing market and needs. We work with businesses daily and understand the balancing act you must take to maintain all aspects of the never-ending product life cycle.
The initial build and launch for many software companies typically goes successfully. Then, with the excitement of a new product and the planned GTM strategy, companies typically hit the ground running and quickly make some sales. YES! Everything is going as planned, but depending on the implementation strategy, you might start experiencing a backlog of implementations or needing one-off customizations. This is where we see companies getting stuck on the Product Lifecycle Hamster Wheel; you must carry that customer through the entire customer lifecycle, providing support and services and configuring what the customer bought on and on and on.
We get it, and we have been there. Our founders started Blueprint Advisory because they wanted to create a partner they never had at Talent Rover to help them through the arduous process. So, let’s dive into the Salesforce Product Lifecycle and figure out how we can make it a little easier on ourselves along the way.
AppExchange Product Lifecycle
Salesforce breaks down the Product Development lifecycle into six stages. Unfortunately, companies can get bogged down working through all these stages and become overwhelmed when not executed correctly, hindering their company growth.
- Plan – The planning stage is one of the most critical stages. Without a plan and a product, none of the rest matters. Every successful product starts with a solid plan, strategizing what problem you will be solving, the target audience, what Salesforce platform you will be using, and more.
- Build – In this stage, you will develop and test in a dev environment explicitly customized for the AppExchange. And while the technology team is hard at work, so is the business team creating the Go-To-Market Strategy, which includes marketing, sales, and support.
- Distribute – Now you are in the final steps to go live. You are going through the comprehensive security review, creating your AppExchange listing, and making any last-minute adjustments.
- Market – You are official! Now it’s time to implement your GTM strategy by reaching out to your target market, leveraging your channel marketing, and your AppExchange listing.
- Sell – Time to convert those leads into sales, focusing on qualifying leads, growing your pipeline, and managing renewals.
- Support – Managing and implementing a solid customer success plan that allows you to support your customer’s needs and improve the product.
Here at Blueprint Advisory, our Product Development Lifecycle has a few additional steps that we have learned through our many years of building businesses on the Salesforce AppExchange.
While we align to Plan, Build, Distribute, Market, and Sell – there are a couple of extra stages companies need to be cognizant of to make the Product Lifecycle more seamless and successful.
Implementation and Delivery
This is a foundational stage with important decisions to consider. Your organization needs to define how you plan to distribute and subsequently implement your product. Ask yourself a couple of questions:
- Are customers going to be able to install and set up your App themselves?
- Does it require a professional services engagement and if so, how are those being delivered?
Most companies explore two options for implementation and delivery: an in-house implementation team or an Implementation Partner. There are pros and cons to each of these, but from our personal and consultative experience, moving this part of the business to an experienced implementation partner alleviates internal burdens and bottlenecks and gives your clients a white-glove experience. Hear from Greg Symons, President and Founder of Blueprint Advisory as he shares his experience at Talent Rover when they faced getting bogged down at this stage.
Enhancements and Customizations
Adding enhancements and new features to your product roadmap are critical for your business’s continual growth and success.
When deciding which features to add, your team needs to ask.
- What am I hearing from my current customers?
- What does the broader market want?
- Do customers need the product? Is there a product-market fit?
The best way to figure out what new features to add is by having a product feedback loop. The customer success or implementation team should be engaging customers by leveraging contextual surveys that can assist the product team in identifying feature needs.
Ongoing Product Development
This stage is crucial for growing your business. You must be asking your team, “What’s Next?”
- Are you adding on to your product?
- Do you have your maintenance and new release cycles planned?
- Is your app staying current with Salesforce yearly releases and changes so your app is always in harmony with Salesforce?
- Are there new features and advancements you have done for one or two customers but have not productized and put into the app, so it is globally applicable for all?
- Find the low-hanging fruit of potential enhancements and new features. If you have features and advancements developed for one or two customers, it’s time to evaluate if they would be beneficial to add to your product roadmap.
We know a thing or two about these steps, because we’ve seen companies live and die by this process. So, trust us when we say that it is important to know how well your team can handle owning all aspects and demands of the product life cycle. If you aren’t sure if you can, or you find yourself making sacrifices and trade-offs for one aspect or another, then consider looking for outside help.
Don’t get bogged down in trying to own everything under one roof. The most successful Salesforce companies have won by creating deep, win-win partnerships that unlock the ability to execute, deliver, support, and enhance your Salesforce product simultaneously.
Are you stuck on the Product Lifecycle Hamster Wheel?
Blueprint Advisory can be that trusted implementation partner and an overflow resource to your development team, ultimately allowing you to focus on the stages and core pieces of the product that matter most to you.