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Product Portfolio Management: Are You Working on the Right New Products?

by Rick Steinbrenner  |  
January 30, 2013

It happens all the time: You learn that your active new-product programs are falling behind or the scope of the project has radically changed. Your teams are telling you they don't have enough resources to do all programs; moreover, they seem to be working at cross-purposes, and they have different opinions on the probability of getting the idea to work.

You need to figure out a way to get everyone on the same page so you can keep your new-product programs on track and get your ideas to market in a timely fashion.

In this article we will discuss ways to make sure you're properly resourcing your new-product portfolio, and then developing tracking tools to make sure they launch on time.

In "Are your new product ideas attractive enough?" I discussed the major types of new products as well as their differing risk/reward profiles:

  • Type 1: Simple derivatives/new models of current product lines: easiest to do, lowest risk
  • Type 2: Line extensions
  • Type 3: New products/innovations in a company's core category
  • Type 4: New product platforms in a category new to the company: hardest to do, highest risk

I then recommended using an objective assessment tool to help rank alternative new concept attractiveness from high to low. The goal of doing so is to prioritize your new-product portfolio—just as you would your individual financial investments.

Once that's completed, you need to determine whether your new product portfolio is "balanced" and can potentially deliver results vis-à-vis expectations. You must consider three critical elements to make sure your new product portfolio is "balanced":

  1. Are your new product ideas strategically aligned with business and innovation growth strategies?
  2. Is your new product portfolio balanced across product type, risk, time, and resources?
  3. Can they deliver against new product revenue growth expectations: Are they sufficient?

One tool than can help in this assessment is a new-product road map. The following is a graphical representation of a hypothetical product road map:

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Rick Steinbrenner, known as the "global brand guy" (, is CMO and principal of Brand Marketing Advisors. A consumer brand and product marketer, he's led and managed leading global brands, including those of General Mills, Kraft, Remington Products, and Black & Decker. He's also managed consumer product businesses as large as $200MM in multiple product categories, from B2C, to B2B, to B2B2C.

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