July 3

Differences Between Managing New Products and Existing Products

Is it better to create something new, or improve something that already exists? There’s no straight answer to this — it truly depends on your situation. But the way you approach either option, whether you build or optimize, certainly differs greatly. Here are some resources that will help you decide and give you guidance on how to approach each process.

Build new or improve existing products: Which is better? There are two business opportunities in product development. You can improve an existing product or you can create a totally new product. Both opportunities have advantages and disadvantages, so you probably want to do a combination of both, but there’s no rule as to the right split between the two. Beth Surowiec suggests a set of questions you can consider to figure out the right mix between new and existing products for your situation.

Are you a Builder or an Optimizer? Rosemary King has identified two types of product people – builders and optimizers. It’s helpful to think about your skills and career progression through the lens of these two types so you can build confidence, be intentional with your career choices, and identify your areas of growth. In addition, the type of product person you are probably plays a big part in whether you prefer creating new products or improving existing ones.

(via @MindtheProduct)

Manage existing products differently than new ones. According to Jeff Lash, bad product managers manage an existing product as if it were a new one. Good product managers understand that an existing product needs to be managed differently than a new one. Jeff takes a look at why managing new and existing products is different and how you need to revise your decision-making process accordingly.

(via @jefflash)

What are the differences in working with mature products versus launching new products? If you would like to get a variety of perspectives on the differences between creating new products and maintaining existing products, just ask a bunch of practicing product people. Or, you can check out their answers to the question “What are the key product management differences in working with mature products versus launching new products” on Quora.

(via @Quora)

Perspective: New product design vs a product redesign.  Joe Schappler explores the similarities and differences in new product design vs the redesign of existing products. Even though he’s looking at these two different approaches from an industrial design perspective, there are some things you can pick up to help you with your product management efforts.

(via @HelixDesignInc)

Kent J McDonald

About the author

Kent J McDonald writes about and practices software product management. He has product development experience in a variety of industries including financial services, health insurance, nonprofit, and automotive. Kent practices his craft with a variety of product teams and provides just in time resources for product people at KBP.media and Product Collective. When not writing or product managing, Kent is his family’s #ubersherpa, listens to jazz and podcasts (but not necessarily podcasts about jazz), and collects national parks.


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