Productised vs customised - What you need to know before productising your service

“Productising” and automating are all the rage in professional services, and for good reason - it can be a great way to make money. However, some of the pitfalls of productisation get lost amongst  the avalanche of content designed to entice you to productise.

Let me be clear from the outset... Productisation can be great. It is something I have tried to pursue on a few occasions and can work amazingly. However, a productised service business is a very different thing to a customised service business for lots of reasons. Understanding this can help you make the right choice on everything from what you productise to your company structure, who you hire, and what marketing plans you pursue.

Productisation is about driving down cost. It is ultimately about efficiencies of delivery. To do that, you need to find the middle ground as best you can. You need to differentiate your sales process from a customised service model (which is all about enticing spur-of-the-moment decisions). Most importantly, productisation requires scale. You are decreasing the cost of delivery through efficiencies, but to make up for it you need to find a bigger market. 

The key question to ask at the outset is : why are you productising? 

  • Is it to deliver a better outcome for clients? 
  • Is it to create better processes so you improve your service? 
  • Is it to tap into different markets? 
  • Or is it because others are doing it and seem to be doing well? 

Answering that question honestly at the start will help you avoid lots of future headaches because you will be able to clearly see where problems can occur. 

Another key point is whether you actually have the capacity to scale: Is the market big enough? Can you invest enough in growing your brand to reach the market? Too many businesses build things and then realise they have no capacity to scale the idea. If you build it, they may not come... In fact, if they don’t know about your product or service they won’t, no matter its merits.