4 ways product teams can show value without a revenue line

By Jodie Hopperton


Los Angeles, California, United States


If you are reading this newsletter, it’s likely you understand the benefits of having a focus on product. But rarely does a product team have revenue attributed directly, so demonstrating value to the rest of the organisation can be challenging. This is exacerbated when making a case for additional resources.

When I spoke to CJ Jacobs at Media News Group earlier this year, she outlined her approach to getting buy-in for projects (you can read that here). Each quarter, a high-level road map is sent out, splitting initiatives by customer segment (“all readers,” “subscribers,” “internal executives” to name a few). Many other organisations follow similar formats.

We spend a lot of time looking at the present and forward at the work to be done, however one question comes up in relation to all this work: How do we look back and show the value we have created?  

In answer to this, the CPO of a well-known brand told me he is looking to put together a “virtual P&L” so they can track the impact they have had on revenue. (I haven’t seen this done before so please let me know if you are one step ahead of us and have been through this development process already.) As with all revenue, it can be difficult to put an exact $ number on work as there are many factors and — with product — many individuals and teams that input to any single revenue line.  

Bearing this in mind, not all product work is driven by revenue. It could be cost savings or audience growth. Gannett, owner of USA today, has a quarterly impact report that is shared internally. Impact reports can be extremely helpful as they align to the company’s specific objectives and leave scope to reflect work across many areas.

Each company may show “value” differently, but there are overarching principles that can be applied to sharing information with colleagues to highlight the effect of product work:

  • Less is more. Don’t overwhelm people with information; highlight the “need to know.” (Although be prepared to go deep on how the numbers have been put together and what they mean if and when questioned on the specifics.)

  • Make it relevant: Different reports to different groups.

  • Make it visual: Show a chart, a simple arrow up or down; use green for positive and red for negative. 

  • Attribute revenue or stats that help people put the value of work in context, ideally against organisational goals.

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About Jodie Hopperton

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