Authors: Bridget Bidlack, Senior Vice President, Product, Lucid and Jun Clarke, Vice President, APAC, Lucid.
If you’ve been part of a global software company, then you’ve probably been faced with similar challenges as us: How do you allocate resources to build features for emerging markets without jeopardizing your core markets?
Product folks love to use frameworks for prioritization, and revenue generation is often in the criteria set. However, revenue should not be the single input into tradeoff decisions; if it is, your emerging markets will never get off the ground. With this challenge in mind, we created a working model to ensure Lucid’s Asia Pacific (APAC) team is represented in product prioritization discussions, that the APAC team stays well informed of product updates and launches, and that we have a mechanism to give features in an emerging market a fighting chance.
We put these processes in place several months ago, and they are more relevant than ever – particularly in an environment where most workplaces are operating with 100% remote employees and priority decisions are more critical to survival and growth. In case others can learn from us, we’d like to share some of our best practices with you.
Lucid has a variety of features on our roadmap that are beneficial to all customers – for example, providing more accurate predictability on survey feasibility, applying machine learning to automate project pacing, eliminating fraud in the marketplace, and surfacing actionable insights through our APIs and in our platform UI. While there is global demand for these features, and they will be built to be consumed by all markets, we may introduce the features differently in each market. When introducing new changes, we take into consideration:
- The appetite for customers and partners to adopt the change
- The risk to existing workflows and performance
- The environmental factors required to make the features successful (such as whether there is enough data in a market to power the feature).
Once we get feedback and traction in a market, we’ll build off that experience to launch the feature in additional markets. When launching a new feature, we usually follow one of the following approaches: launch a feature in an emerging market that has more appetite for the change, launch the feature in a more mature market where there is more data to support the feature, and sometimes it’s a group of customers across many markets to ensure we have true global product market fit.
Tip: The key is determining the success criteria for product launch and finding the market with the best fit.
It’s important to understand the nuances of different markets and the additional requirements for product market fit. For example, if your platform mostly operates in a handful of currencies or languages, you may hit a roadblock in a country or region that operates in a different language or needs to transact in local currency only. This then becomes a decision of product strategy.
Is the company committed to launching the product line in a new region? If so, then the tradeoff of spending a couple development cycles to build a feature unique to that region might be the right call. This is the area that becomes most challenging for country and region leaders. If their feature is ranked strictly on revenue for that feature, they will never be prioritized over features needed in mature markets.
Tip: The product team must carve out investment for the emerging markets to ensure success in those regions.
One of the biggest challenges with a global company is trying to find meeting times that work for everyone. Lucid is headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA with the bulk of employees in the Central Time Zone. Trying to find meetings with key stakeholders from the West Coast and East Coast of the US all the way to India, Australia, Singapore (and more) is challenging.
We established a buddy system to help with this. Each person in APAC is paired up with a person in a similar role in America. That buddy is their eyes, ears and sometimes mouth in meetings they may have missed. In turn, the US buddy develops a deep understanding of the APAC buddy’s needs and can represent them in meetings or at least flag that someone from the APAC team needs to be brought into the discussion.
Tip: Buddies form a close connection and raise global awareness across the company.
For any standing meetings, if they are important enough, consider repeating the meetings during normal working hours of different time zones. This might mean you are holding the same meeting 2 or 3 times. For meetings that can’t be repeated, always record. Additionally, setting agendas ahead of time informs all teams about what will be discussed and allows team members to contribute, even if they can’t attend the meeting when held. Lastly, be sure to distribute meeting notes, key decisions and action items.
Tip: Hold meetings during business hours as often as you can. For those you can’t, be sure to take good notes and record the meeting.
We hope these tips will help you at your company. And we’d love to hear what tips and tricks you use to prioritize resources for emerging markets, what you’ve learned from remote employees, and how you incorporate their feedback into priorities.
Jun & Bridget