Scroll to top

Why do products fail?

By Leading The Product

As LTP draws closer, we want to highlight the amazing support we receive from our sponsors each year and 2024 is no exception. The wisdom, insights and products that our amazing sponsors have produced are second to none and it wouldn’t be fair to withhold some of their learnings, thoughts and tips on how to adopt new product thinking and adapt to disruption in the product industry.

So please, read and enjoy the awesome content that they have shared with us in the lead up to Leading the Product 2024!

Gartner forecasts that the world will spend 5.1 trillion dollars on new IT products in 2024. This represents an 8% increase from the year before [1].  Considering that we are not, in general, very good at building and maintaining technology, this is a phenomenal figure . A recent study of Global IT deliveries from PMI, found that  only 14% of software projects are successful [2].

This means that the global IT industry will spend 4.6 trillion dollars on failed products this year – the equivalent investment needed to build 25,000 large hospitals or solve world hunger for 17 years [3].

So why do IT product deliveries fail? PWC identified the following 10 reasons for product delivery failure [4]:

  • Lack of shared vision caused by limited trust and collaboration.
  • Misaligned clarity and priority of requirements
  • Not being clear on who’s in charge.
  • Slow or weak governance
  • Underinvestment in guardrails
  • Manual mayhem
  • Focusing on the wrong things
  • Forgetting about operations
  • Security as a ‘bolt-on’
  • Confusing agile with reduced rigour

Successfully delivering IT products and meeting the customers’ needs requires a skilled team and product manager who are able to successfully navigate around these barriers to success.

Product teams are typically made up of domain experts who create value that inform and enable each other’s work. To fully benefit from this collaboration, meticulous attention to detail and correct translation of insights and information between domains is paramount. Oversights in this translation early in the process can escalate into significant challenges, and ultimately to product failure. Opportunities are easily missed by domain experts who don’t ‘speak the same language’ or use the same tools.

Effective collaboration and trust are essential ingredients for any product team.  Without these foundational principles, misalignment can easily arise, leading to inefficiencies and ultimately hindering product success [5]

Product seldom follows a linear path from start to finish.  Instead, we often encounter twists, turns, and unexpected challenges along the way. During these course correction moments, it becomes paramount for all team members to share a common understanding of the product’s overarching vision, akin to following a guiding “north star.”[6]

This shared vision serves as a compass, guiding the team through uncertainties and facilitating decision-making processes. It ensures that every individual involved in the project remains focused on the goal throughout the product lifecycle. Alignment of goals among team members fosters a cohesive environment where collaboration flourishes, enabling effective communication, knowledge sharing, and problem-solving [7].

By nurturing collaboration and trust while ensuring alignment of goals, product teams can adeptly navigate the intricacies of product design, development and delivery together. In turn, this not only boosts productivity and efficiency, but also fosters innovation and adaptability.

Research indicates that this creates a “virtuous circle”: Trust enhances collaboration (by 80% compared to the baseline), and this in turn, bolsters trust (by 84% compared to the baseline). And, at the same time, these dynamics are bolstering the likelihood of product success [5].

In recent years, collaborative online tools have provided a valuable way to increase and foster trust within cross functional teams by delivering transparency and facilitation of knowledge sharing. The industry has benefited a great deal from the likes of Miro (for designers), Trello, Jira and Confluence (for project managers). The drawback has been that domain specialists have remained isolated in their use of these tools, with translation of value posing a significant barrier and risk.

SquareBear represents the next generation – Where information is not only shared, but is integrated across key product domain areas to amplify and generate value.

SquareBear is for the whole product team. Its generative AI and algorithms make true cross-functionality possible.

Value generated in one domain of product design, development and/or delivery is intelligently and algorithmically translated to deliver meaningful value into other product domains. This fosters collaboration and trust.

When you use SquareBear, you are using an intelligent, integrated, and dynamically linked digital environment that has been specifically built by product specialists to support product teams.

Dedicated spaces, or ‘Squares’, allow for full value generation by your specialists in key product domains.  Content is generated and translated by SquareBear’s intelligent systems to deliver value from this work into the ‘Squares’ belonging to other specialties of the product team automatically. Information is delivered into formats preferred by each product team specialisation to reduce barriers, save time, and enhance outcomes.

Instead of being distracted with work load and cumbersome processes related to the translation of insights and information between product domains, with an added risk that something crucial might be missed, SquareBear teams are freer to operate in a truly cross functional way.

The transparency, reliability and currency of information supports team trust, collaboration, innovation, and ultimately better product success.

Blog articles covering the remaining 9 reasons that products fail as listed by PWC are available on SquareBear’s Insights page.