Adding product capabilities dilutes product value over time.
In the world of SaaS there are enumerable products that solve very specific problems. If the product creators solve a problem well they will gain traction in the marketplace.
Along with growth comes a deeper understanding of customer needs and inevitably the growth in the product to meet those needs.
Adding new features to a product is addicting. Early insights become a race to provide solutions. The thrill of building something and shipping it to your customer comes with a great deal of satisfaction.
But there is a tipping point. A point at which the value of adding new features begins to diminish the value of the product.
Over time and feature development, the product is pitched as the “all in one solution for the market”. You have served your customers so well that you can do everything for them. True, it solves a lot of problems, but never fully.
Think about your own business. How many enterprise solutions do you use where you compliment the software with a spreadsheet companion. The spreadsheet gets to be unwieldy so you enlist the products customer success team and the discovery process for the next new feature begins.
A year later your feature is released and you’ve become so numb to dealing with the problem that changing your process would be too painful. So, you never adopt the feature you asked for to begin with. Multiply this situation across a variety of customers and tada, you are now the proud customer of a frankenstein product.
That’s why I believe expanding product capabilities should be approached with caution. Do you really want an all in one solution that ends up being everything to…well…no one? You are everything to no one and thus starts the battle against churn from once raving fans who now find you less valuable and more confusing.
So what should you do?
Make Features Fight to Get In Your Product
Just because you can offer the solution, doesn’t mean you should. Be diligent about returning to your original vision and mission. Be ruthless about ensuring that the features you build align to your mission.
It’s easy to fool yourself. Make sure that features have to fight there way into your product.
Find Partners First
Perhaps it’s a better opportunity to partner or create a targeted integration point for someone who already solves that problem well.
Look for partners who are excellent at already solving the new acute problems that your customers are complaining about. Don’t be afraid of referring them to to those solutions.
As a user of SaaS product I’m much happier to leverage a product that does one thing very well and has connecting points to other problem spaces. The benefit of one sign on to rule them all sounds amazing, but as a user, I really don’t care.
Be Extraordinarily Excellent at Solving One Problem
If you have to hire sales people to explain your offering, it’s too complicated. Simplify to the point that the product sells itself, provide excellent support and make your experience memorable. Outsource the rest. The end.
To prevent dilution of the value that your product provides to your customers over time instill the following three practices and you will minimize the risk that you become an all in one solution for no one.
- Make features fight there way into your product
- Look to partners before you choose to build something new
- Be the best at solving one painful problem