Why removing “Drive Extender” from the next Windows Home Server is bad product management

29 11 2010

Yeah, I should have posted at least once more this year.  But I guess it takes something of epic frustration to prod me into re-prioritizing my schedule right now.  Removing a technology called “Drive Extender” from Windows Home Server is just the right move to get my fingers on the keyboard again.

Let me explain why…

Through a series of weird coincidences, I happened upon the necessity to consider purchasing a “real” Windows Home Server box from an OEM.  My current “Frankenstein’s Monster” box I assembled many years ago (after all, Frankenstein was the doctor, not the monster) is probably a liability.  I keep feeding it drives, and it keeps running.

For all of you out there who have businesses of some sort, the end of 2010 means the last opportunity to spend some money on capital assets (i.e. shiny toys) and write them off.  Because everyone is soooo scared that taxes might change in 2011, CPA’s are telling people to spend money this year as though a great plague is upon us and the only way to slake its blood lust is to feed it cash.

It’s like written permission

So when you get this letter from your CPA and you look for toys to buy, you start thinking about all the non-sexy stuff that you worry about at 2AM when you can’t sleep.  My Windows Home Server is one of those items.

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Pricing metrics and the customers that suboptimize them

6 08 2009

There are many truths in life.  If it didn’t sound so geeky and pessimistic, I would add to the list “customers will always suboptimize your product based on your metrics.”  It’s not very catchy.

I previously wrote about points to consider when choosing your metrics.  It was by no means exhaustive, but it did have a “salesy focus”.  That’s because your sales people play a vital role in your pricing and licensing scheme both before it is rolled out and when their boots hit the ground (and I saved one harsh reality for the end of this post).

Additionally, I brought up a few “rules” (or at least observations I’ve discovered) about choosing your metrics.  I could have added suboptimization to the list, but I’ve found there are some finer points to consider about this psychological pattern when it comes to your software’s sales, adoption, deployment, and expansion.

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Pricing, metrics and evolution (#3)

9 07 2009

So far I’ve talked about how pricing is a mix of several elements which involve math, science, intuition and emotional intelligence.  At some point, these things come together and you have to divide up what you’re selling and assign a suggested quantity of money that should be exchanged for each quantity of your product.

For some products, sizing or metrics may be determined by the market standards (e.g. existing products, packaging, shelf space) or by some other decision designed to garner a net impression (e.g. 100 calorie snack packs of food or beverage).  Consumer packaged goods have a whole pricing paradigm unto themselves versus pricing a “virtual” product or service.

I’ve heard that individuals will typically undervalue their own skills or services when they ask for compensation versus letting the recipient pay them.  However, I don’t believe that’s true for business transactions.  Especially when it comes to software, cable TV, and cell phone plans. 

Certainly in the software sector, many customers believe that the pricing is out of line with the value they receive.  Perhaps that’s because the licensing terms don’t match their expectations very well.

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Human nature and software pricing (#2) – let sales do their job

25 06 2009

Deep in the process of pricing, in the midst of the miasma of spreadsheets, whiteboards, and scenario development, the pricing master will teeter on the edge of sanity.  Combinations of customer situations, past corporate agreements, and product development plans will swirl and form into transient clusters of pricing policy and licensing metrics that must be analyzed and evaluated.

Let’s talk about that for a second because it sounds like I’m out of my mind.  But we’ve been there… the vortex of information that surrounds pricing can overwhelm the senses and make good ideas indistinguishable from disastrous ones.

While I do believe that to know pricing is to know madness at times, pricing will always drive you to that point if you forget this simple rule:

Let sales people do their job.

Sales can be your ally, but you have to involve them in a specific way in order to bring about the best results for you, the company, and their commission.

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Product management and pricing: floor wax or dessert topping*?

11 06 2009

I’m going to clarify some terms. 
I promise this relates back to pricing and product management.

Art is not a pejorative term

But some people use the word “art” to denigrate anything that they believe has no intrinsic value or lacks a factual basis.

People fear having their work labeled as “art” because it implies that their work is superficial, unrepeatable, and lacks measurable value.  Basically: un-fundable.

Marketing, product marketing, product management, interaction design, and design in general have all tenaciously emphasized the quantitative aspects of their fields in order to avoid having their fields classified as “art” (and therefore irrational and value-free).

And, if all you have met are flighty, self-important, arbitrarily enigmatic, talent-free, damaged hacks that call themselves “artists”, I’d have to agree with you.

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