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By Louise Cantrill - Head of Consultancy

WHAT IS A SUITE? header image

The term "Suite" is commonly used in technology, but often confused with   "Platform" or “Portfolio". Each have a distinct meaning: that is worth clarifying:


A platform is a foundational technology or infrastructure that provides a basis for the development of other applications, services, or solutions. It often includes tools, resources, and services that enable developers to build upon it. Platforms can be used to create a variety of applications, and they are known for their extensibility, flexibility, and ability to integrate with other systems. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud computing platform that offers various services like computing, storage, and databases, allowing businesses to build and run their applications.



A portfolio typically refers to a collection or group of products, services, or assets offered by a company. These products or services may not necessarily be directly related but are part of the company's overall offerings. A portfolio can encompass a wide range of solutions within a company's business, representing its diversity and breadth. For example, a technology company might have a portfolio that includes hardware devices, software products, cloud services, and consulting services.



A suite refers to a collection of software applications or tools that are bundled together and typically sold as a package. These applications within the suite are often designed to work seamlessly with each other, sharing data and offering a unified user experience. Suites are usually centred around a specific theme or functionality, such as office productivity suites (e.g., Microsoft Office) or creative design suites (e.g., Adobe Creative Cloud). The goal is to provide a comprehensive solution that covers a range of related tasks.


For the purposes of this document, we will use this definition of Suite.



Managing a product and managing a product suite are distinct roles, each with its own set of challenges and responsibilities. Here are the key differences between the two:


Managing a Product:

Focus on a Single Offering: Product management typically involves overseeing the development and management of a single product or service. The product manager is dedicated to ensuring the success and optimization of that specific offering.

Narrow Scope: The scope of the role is narrower and more focused on the individual product, its features, and its market positioning.

Sole Responsibility: The product manager is responsible for making decisions related to their product, from its conception to its release and ongoing improvement.

Goal Alignment: The primary goal is to ensure that the product meets customer needs, generates revenue, and aligns with the company's strategic objectives.

Managing a Product Suite:

·        Managing Multiple Interrelated Products: Product suite management involves overseeing a collection of related products or services that work together to provide a comprehensive solution. This includes coordinating the development, integration, and alignment of multiple products.

Broader Scope: The scope of the role is broader, as it encompasses not only individual products but also how they interact and complement each other.

Coordination and Integration: The suite product manager is responsible for ensuring that the various products within the suite are well-coordinated and integrated, providing a seamless user experience.

Resource Allocation: Resource allocation may be more complex, as it involves distributing resources across multiple products to support the suite's development.

Strategic Planning: Suite managers need to develop a cohesive strategy for the entire suite, considering how the individual products fit together and how they collectively serve the target market.

Communication and Advocacy: Suite managers must communicate the value of the entire suite, both internally and externally, and advocate for the suite's benefits.



There are 10 habits that underpin Suite success from a Product Managers perspective:

Developing a Cohesive Strategy/vision

Managing a product suite begins with crafting a cohesive strategy that defines the suite's purpose, target market, and its role within the company's broader portfolio. This strategy should consider the unique value proposition of each product and how they work together to meet customer needs.


Defining a suite architecture.

A suite architecture is a structured collection of software applications designed to work together seamlessly. These applications share data and often serve a common purpose or industry. By integrating various tools, a suite architecture offers a comprehensive solution, streamlining tasks and enhancing productivity for users in specific domains like office productivity or creative design.


Creating Cross-Product roadmaps

A well-defined product roadmap is essential for managing a suite effectively. It outlines the development and release schedule for individual products within the suite, ensuring they are synchronized to deliver maximum value. Product managers should prioritize features and enhancements that support the suite's overarching goals.


Conducting Market Research

Understanding the market and customer needs is critical. Each product within the suite may cater to different segments, and it's crucial to gather data, feedback, and insights to make informed decisions. Regular market research keeps product managers in tune with evolving customer preferences and market trends. Research is likely to be conducted by regional/market experts and collated by the suite owner.


Fostering Cross-Product Coordination

Products within a suite should work seamlessly together. Encourage cross-team collaboration to ensure integration, consistency, and interoperability among products. This coordination is vital for providing a comprehensive solution to customers and maintaining a positive user experience. (holistic User journeys, suite of standard personas with market variants)


Efficient Resource Allocation

Managing a product suite also involves resource management. This includes budgeting, team allocation, and ensuring that the necessary resources are allocated to support the suite's development and maintenance. Resource allocation should be aligned with the suite's strategic goals.



Suite prioritization is the process of determining the order in which software features or test cases are addressed. It helps maximize efficiency by focusing on critical functionalities first, ensuring that the most important aspects are tested or developed early in a project, improving overall product quality and time management.


Facilitate Stakeholder Communication

Effective communication is key to the success of a product suite. Product managers act as liaisons between various internal teams, including engineering, marketing, and sales. Keeping all stakeholders informed and aligned regarding the suite's progress, challenges, and goals is vital.


Monitor Performance Metrics

Regularly monitoring and analysing performance metrics is essential. Track KPIs   and set OKRs for both the suite as a whole and its individual products. This data provides insights into customer satisfaction, market penetration, and areas for improvement.


Product Evangelism

Product managers should promote the suite's value both internally and externally, fostering a sense of pride and enthusiasm within the organization and conveying the suite's benefits to customers, partners, and the market.


If you would like help in building out the skills within your team to manage suites, or products please let us know we are here to help. We would love to help you build product excellence.

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