Greg Geracie, Actuation Consulting, Take Charge Product Management

The 3 Factors That Have the Greatest Impact on a Product Development Initiatives Success or Failure

In Agile, Business Analysis, Lean, Product Management, Product Marketing, Product Owner, Product Teams, Project Management, Scrum, The Study of Product Team Performance, User Experience by [email protected]1 Comment

If you were asked “What single action do you believe increases the likelihood of success in your product development initiatives” how would you respond?

We asked 1150 survey participants this very question and here’s what they told us.

#3 Upfront Planning  – Respondents told us that upfront planning is critical to the success of their product development efforts but it’s being compromised given the current environment of constrained resources and leaderships fast changing priorities. It was pretty clear from the volume of responses that teams are unhappy about the lack of forethought currently being given to the planning process.

#2 Open Communication – Respondents clearly valued open communication within the team and across the organization. In fact, survey respondents overall opinion regarding communication was summed up nicely by the following individual. We “need to have open and honest conversations so that realistic expectations are set.” In other words, while communication is highly valued and deemed critical to the success or failure of product development initiatives it’s not as commonly practiced as it should be.

#1 Accurate Customer Needs Identification – Survey respondents indicate that time needs to be invested upfront to ensure that the team has clarity on customer needs. One respondent said that “gaining an in-depth understanding of the market and developing to a well-defined target” was the single most important thing the product development team can do to ensure success.

Interestingly, two of the three are front-end activities (planning and needs identification). The data from the study also indicates that these very activities are the ones that get compromised as under-resourced teams are pushed to go wide and compromise depth.

So the question is, if these are the most important factors that point to the success or failure of your product development initiatives – how long can teams go without the ability to go deep and invest time in planning and clearly identifying customer needs?

Greg Geracie is a recognized thought leader in the field of product management and the President of Actuation Consulting, a global provider of product management consulting, training, and advisory services to some of the world’s most well-known organizations. Greg is also the author of the global best seller Take Charge Product Management. He is also an adjunct professor at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on high-tech and digital product management. 


  1. Whether it is during planning, requirements gathering, meeting with stakeholders or product users, testing/implementation; the one thing you need to know is to expect the unexpected. That is, assume that some critical piece of information, resource, or politics will impact/derail any assumptions you may have thought were fact…then go to “Plan B”. Don’t have one yet? Think about all the times you were given instructions, directions, or advice and you wish you had asked in advance: “And what do I do if this doesn’t work?”

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