Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Delivering the Goods

Standing here on the brink of releasing a new product, I scan the terrain ahead. Adding one product seems like no big deal, but it pretty much doubles the complexity of an already involved process.

At the moment we have a total of 8 products (where product is defined as "something with a price") -- 9 if you count the free demo version. The program has two levels (call them Standard and Pro), each with one of two sets of data files (Partial and Full) -- so four main products SP, SF, PP, and PF, plus three add-on sets of data files and an upgrader to go from S to P. All told, a whopper of a catalogue.

To deliver these 9 products, we have a total of 7 different installers (where installer is defined as "something you download or get on CD") built around a grand total of 1 (one, count it) executable. The same program acts as demo, S, or P, depending on what license code you enter.

Adding the screensaver causes the number of products to skyrocket. You might want to purchase SS by itself, with or without the full set of data files, or if you buy any other product you might want to toss in the screensaver (forget "toss in" -- it'll be $10) so 4 choices become 8 and the product line leaps from 9 to 15. The increase in paperwork alone will be staggering.

So here's my plan for making this manageable. First, you might be amazed to know that the very same file can act as either program or screen saver, depending on where you put it and how smart it is (more on this in my CodeGuru article). Second, since the license can tell the program to behave in any of several ways, we can still get away with just one executable -- now installed in two different locations, with one set of data files, and a detailed license code telling what it can and can't do.

We won't need any more installers. Every one can go ahead and put the screensaver in place, since it won't work unless you have the right license. Some people might be annoyed to see it in the screensaver list if it doesn't run, but if they gripe I'll tell them how to delete it.

So many things to think about with this big new catalog! I'd better order more paper clips.

1 comment:

Iestyn Lewis said...

There's another company I can think of that has a problem with proliferating SKUs.... hmmm...

I suggest combining everything into one product:

TrainTrackLayerPlayerSaver Ultra Enterprise