Attempt all the problems
Section – A
problem1) What basic strategies are available to marketing manager for handling product at maturity stage?
problem2) describe diffusion theory and suggest its implications for launching new products?
Section – B Case Study
TASP Security Software was in a serious trouble. Its flagship product for database security, the “Knowledge Keeper”, was replicated by vicious competitors. Due to historical innovation, company kept its leading role in the market, but competition gained a growing market share, and all the products were deemed as equal.
The cruel analysts, having no technological understanding, were spreading rumours that “Knowledge Keeper” market is commoditized, an euphemism implying any kid could implement it, and that price is going to dive soon.
Arnold, a product manager, quickly diagnosed problem and announced a new concept that will highlight unique capabilities of “Knowledge Keeper”. The concept would be branded as “The Divider” and would bring to light “Knowledge Keeper” technological supremacy. As the quarterly financial reports were coming along he ordered developers to “get it done” in four months.
Sigourney, a group manager, was furious: ”Such the product could not be shipped in four months. We are in the middle of infrastructure projects that we will solve the global warming problem! How am I supposed to create the new product with no headcount? – it contradicts the law of energy conservation”.
The developers joined the fury: “How could we code “The Divider” with no definition of its capabilities? We could not develop a product based on a vague, fuzzy management concept”.
Still, Sigourney approached task with faith and agility. Having no programmers available, she assigned Ron to the job. Ron was recruited as chief internal security officer, to educate employees to guard internal information and develop new security guidelines. When he was recruited, he declared he is tired of programming and he wants to focus on research. Though, Sigourney remembered that Ron is the Wizard coder from the Amiga assembly days. The rumor was that he made the juggling balls, in the Amiga famous demonstration; disappear into the juggler’s mouth.
Mark, a developer from a different group, was added to help Ron in a task. He didn’t report to Ron, but task importance was clearly describeed to him and his manager.
Since the time was short, Sigourney decided to focus on five existing product features that were never shown in user interface. The features were hidden, and it was only possible to activate them by manual changes in obscure INI files. It was also decided to develop the new “SQL Guardian” to validate all SQL instructions sent to database are indeed legal.
Sigourney and Ron passionately started working on task. Ron demanded a requirement document from Arnold, the product manager. As Arnold was busy handling existing customers’ escalations, everyone agreed development team will create the mock-up of the UI and Arnold will provide feedback on it. As most features existed for many years, they decided the detailed design for “The Divider” is not needed.
Work progressed quickly. The team realized the significance of project, but was somewhat frustrated with minimal resources allocation. Oberon, the director, reassured them: “We are in an initial phase, if the product succeeds, extra people would be added. Right now, you just need to include few dialogs and text to features we had for last three versions”.
After six weeks, problems began to raise their ugly head. The mockup was progressing slowly. GUI developer, coming from another group, was not sure what exactly he is supposed to do. His attempts to get clarifications form Ron got the very slow response, as Ron was busy coding “SQL Guardian” that was the most interesting part of project. Coming from information security background, he made certain that all the smallest vulnerabilities are blocked, even for DB2 and CA-Ingres. Trying to create perfect SQL parser resulted in a major setback in the project.
To save the day, Arnold presales tasks were moved to support department. Arnold worked directly with UI developer to define the dialogs. The mockup was presented to key customers and sales executives and received great feedback.
Three months along development, the QA department started warning:”If we do not get a stable version of product, there is no way we could complete testing on time for shipment”.
While Ron worked on new features, Mark was supposed to integrate old ones in the new UI. Due to urgent problem in his other group projects, his progress on “The Divider” was quite slow. Though he enjoyed developing new code instead of fixing old bugs, written by the company founders, it was hard to get rid of obnoxious customer tickets.
Sigourney called for an emergency discussion. “We have to give something to QA. Even if it is not perfect, they could start playing with product and open bugs. We will inform them on the present limitations and they could work around them”
Ron responded “We did not code GUI-engine communication layer yet!” Sigourney shouted at him: “They could configure it with INI files as far as I’m concerned, by the end of the week we are delivering a version to QA”.
Two weeks later Ron sent the initial version to QA. The testers vigorously began opening bugs with hilarious titles: “Nothing Works!”, “GUI Crashes Every 46 Seconds”,”Spelling Mistakes in Non Existent Help Screens”. The coders raged about QA’s inability to overcome transitory hiccups, and silently ran to fix the problems.
The improved version with most of new features was deployed to QA after the two month delay. Surprisingly, it turned out old, “existing” features the divider was supposed to expose are hardly working. As they had no user interface the testers “forgot” to check them. It seemed customers were not using the protections either.
Default setting for the innovative protections was set to off, as it raised too many false alarms. As there was no visible way to turn them on, only the most advanced and innovative, paranoid customers implemented the protections.
To make things worse, no support tickets were open as well, and CMO was convinced the product is top notch.
Sigourney shouted at Ron:”How could you provide a product that’s not working? Did you ever test it yourself before deploying to QA? “Ron, who was not the quiet type, responded: “I own SQL Guardian” that works smoothly. The “Data Crusher” was written by company founder five years ago and you could talk to him about it. I didn’t join this company to be a code monkey. You are throwing undefined tasks at me, stealing Mark for other projects and then wonder why things break. I would not stand this hypocrisy”.
Rumours of the problems reached Oberon, the director. He moved three extra developers to help project. Though Ron felt project is running out of control, bugs were fixed at a much higher rate. The director ran the daily status meeting to monitor the development and reprioritize trivial bugs. He kept the team confident :”Microsoft ships with many bugs and they still rule the world”,” In a 1.0 version customers are forgiving for minor problems”.
The marketing department published the passionate release note regarding the innovative new concept TASP security would present in. The stock rose and the sales team were energized. The whole R&D helped and people worked around clock. Following three months of intense work, a Go-No-Go dissuasion was held with QA, R&D and product management.
QA felt the product is not mature enough, but rest of the team ignored them. There was not a single product they ever approved, not even successful “Knowledge keeper” .The exhausted Sigourney felt the product is ready and people got tired of the repeating delays. Five months later than original plan, the pressure was mounting to go ahead and release. Ron was the only opposition, and refused to be responsible for the results. Oberon considered all the options and decided to ship. To comfort Ron all the limitations would be listed in a ten page long release notes paper.
problem3) Case problems:
A) What are the major issues in this case?
B) The Company requires to resolve Human resource problems rather than IT problem. Discuss.
C) If you were the director, suggest measure you will have undertaken to resolve the problems.