In this post, I’m going to complete the story, and talk about how the system of record can be used for the “Go-to-Market” part of the product management process.
Maybe you read my post from a few weeks ago on a system of record for product management, and agree that not only does product management need one but there are no tools that provide one. What should you do? Can you “cobble together” an interim system of record solution, and should you?
A central system of record for product management provides three main benefits:
- There’s a single source of truth instead of multiple copies of the truth, of which most do not agree
- The information is an enterprise asset by virtue of being centrally accessible
- It reduces duplication of work since people can now find desired information in the repository rather than searching for it, or worse, recreating it.
Let’s start with the first goal—everything in its place; no duplication. How might we do that for all the artifacts that product managers create, such as interview notes, feature specifications, release descriptions and value propositions? You’ll need a database that supports documents and attachments as this becomes the well-known location for everything that product management produces. It’s very much like a wiki.
What about the other big piece of the system of record—the relationships between these items? For example, which customer needs drove which features. Luckily, a wiki can support this too, via linking.
A few months ago I wrote in an essay that business processes arrive in the modern age only when they have a system of record. This first started with accounting (centuries ago), which led (much more) recently to the back office and manufacturing with MRP, and then eventually ERP. The same occurred again with sales, beginning with contact managers before moving to sales force automation, and finally customer relationship management (CRM).
Product managers often place the cart before the horse. We love to think about the product, the features, how “cool” the UI is, and how we can make the product better.
Steve Ballmer was once quoted saying, “The lifeblood of our business is that R&D spend. There’s nothing that flows through a pipe or down a wire or anything else. We have to continuously create new innovation that lets people do something they didn’t think they could do the day before.”