Eisha Armstrong, Co-Founder and CEO of Vecteris, guest blogs for us this week.

Productize: Turning Services into Scalable Products

When the world shut down a little over a year ago, both demand for services and revenue generation began to slow for many organizations. For many, the pandemic created an opportunity – or urgent need – to “productize” their services using technology to grow more efficiently and to meet customer demand for digital delivery.

This was certainly true in the nonprofit sector, where the Covid-19 pandemic forced leaders to start innovating programs, events, and business models – all at once.

The bad news is that I’ve seen many organizations waste a lot of money unsuccessfully trying to innovate and ‘productize,’ so I decided to leverage my experience and write a book explaining why and how to overcome the challenges.

I wrote Productize: The Ultimate Guide to Turning Services into Scalable Products  to fill a gap in the marketplace for organizations that want to innovate and develop more scalable—often tech-enabled—products. It is backed by over twenty years of experience building productized consulting, training, information services, and data services businesses. The book launched on Amazon earlier this month.

And, because we’re partnered with RevJen and work with many nonprofits, RevJen invited me to share how nonprofits can leverage the ideas in Productize.

Why Productization is Especially Hard in the Nonprofit Space

The biggest reason organizations struggle with productization is that digital product development and launch are often outside of their core skills.  It requires technical skills and go-to-market skills that many organizations don’t have.  Productizing services also typically requires organizations to think differently about how they work and create value for their customers. For example, migrating from a customized services model where we deliver services ‘1:1’ to a scalable product model where we deliver  ‘1: Many’ is a difficult mindset shift.

And even when nonprofit leaders are able and willing to seek outside help to innovate, many firms will advocate for excessively large and expensive digital platforms before testing and understanding market demand.

This happened to Cincinnati-based non-profit, Women Helping Women (WHW).  WHW had a successful in-person training product, WorkStrong, designed to empower companies, the workforce, and survivors to address workplace issues surrounding gender-based violence. They wanted to expand WorkStrong to other cities and provide it to companies who prefer a digital training option.

As WHW explored the idea, the first vendors they approached suggested major upfront investment.

In contrast, my team proposed that WHW just build a “minimum viable product” with the digital content to begin testing the idea. The MVP approach allows WHW to test market demand for a digital offering BEFORE making a large-scale investment.

Seven Deadly Productization Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them

Not taking a MVP approach is one of the “Seven Deadly Productization Mistakes” I outline in the book.  Productize also includes real-life case studies and stories featuring organizations that have successfully led their organizations to create more scalable services and products. It also includes more than two dozen tools and templates to help teams implement the tactics so you don’t have to start from scratch.

In this book, readers will learn:

  • how to shift your culture to embrace a product-mindset
  • the capabilities you need to be successful and whether or not you should acquire them or grow them internally
  • how much money to invest in exploring and building more scalable solutions and products
  • how to ensure there is a viable market for your product idea
  • how to sequence investments in new product development
  • how to successfully source and work with developers and data scientists
  • how to inexpensively test your ideas before investing in development
  • how to win the hearts and minds of your sales team to ensure your new products are commercially successful

It is my hope that these ideas, and this book, will help the RevJen community, and the nonprofit sector at large, seize this opportunity to digitally innovate successfully – and fuel their missions.

The book is available on Amazon. But, if you want to learn more about the book or set up a time to chat about your innovation needs, head over to our website: https://www.vecteris.com/productize-book.html