My product mentor is a retired P&G guy who ate, slept and dreamt of 'hair care' for most of his adulthood, not because he has a thing for hair but because that's how P&G rolls. When you work in Cincinnati you can't swing a dead cat without hitting someone who works at P&G or somehow services P&G one way or another. And while I currently work for a B2B payments company, I have spent a lot of time in the past understanding how P&G makes products work better than most others in the world.
P&Gs Swiffer is a great product example that provided "a better cleaning tool than a mop, with less time spent cleaning." The physical attributes of how a Swiffer works is fairly easy to understand (wet towel on a stick) but what made the Swiffer a game changing way for families to clean their homes? To start with, the new solution had to beat the old method, the mop, and although the mop had an overwhelming piece of market share, customers could be wooed with a value prop that delivered better cleaning and less time cleaning.
We know that Swiffer was a hit but how did the product manager measure that success? I'm over simplifying the KPIs but did the removable wet towel clean better than the mop head when all you had to do is squirt more cleaning solution on command? Did the stick rotate to get under furniture eliminating all of the dust bunnies? Was it faster to whip out the Swiffer than draw hot water into a bucket and wait till it cooled down so you didn't burn yourself? Yes, of course, to all the key metrics identified during the early stages of the product's design.
If the inventor of Swiffer hadn't set some type of key metrics early in the development of the product, his team, business partners, and execs would have had to rely on their own personal feelings about the product and it's success before going to market. Regardless of the product type, B2C or B2B, development should always address a problem to solve and a way to measure whether the problem has actually been solved. Setting KPIs at the beginning of the Concept phase keeps everyone aligned on the target so ideas don't stray too far or budgets get too far out of whack. Trust me, you'll be a hero when your KPIs are overflowing at your next budget meeting.