Alex Osterwalder and his team, who created the Business Model Canvas, have launched a software version called Strategyzer.com. While they previously released an iPad version of the canvas, the inability to collaborate or share cross-platform kept me, and many others, reserved to the world of Google Spreadsheets and Powerpoints on Dropbox. However, their new product, Strategyzer.com, is a software tool that provides a SaaS based version of the canvas that not only addresses the collaboration and cross-platform issue, but adds a bunch of useful features that I previously had to create on my own.
With their recent update of Strategyzer to include the Value Proposition Designer, I thought I’d share my “first look” experience with it in case you’re considering it:
What I like:
- Collaboration – My Google Spreadsheet version of the BMC is now three years old… I can finally bid it adieu. I can add as many collaborators as I like to a project and get a much better UX.
- Integration with the Value Proposition Canvas – in a previous blog post, “Business Model Canvas Gluttony – Why One Is Not Enough“, I had discussed how the business model is dependent on the Value Proposition to Segment map. For people who don’t use the canvas frequently, this is often a source of confusion on how to manage that. Strategyzer natively integrates the two, bringing the VPs and Segments over to the VP Canvas to start working on them.
- Built in Hypotheses – A couple years ago, Steve Blank had suggested using different colors in the Business Model Canvas to show what is tested versus what is still a hypothesis. Strategyzer has integrated this with an “Assessment” tool that allows you to mark each items as “Pass”, “Fail”, or “Testing”. It then provides a dashboard to see how your progressing against these assumptions. Not only is this more elegant, but it allows the color coding to be used to match VP / Segments identified in #2.
- Integrated Financials – When I was in business school, I used the canvas a lot for business plan competitions as well as venture investment competitions. However, I always had to go back and create a separate spreadsheet to model the financials. In the real world, many of my clients actually avoid the financials entirely during this phase of discussion. Strategyzer includes financials natively by adding attributes to each entry which ultimately roll-up to an exportable profit/loss statement. While financial plans are, of course, more complicated than this, it does provide some quick signposts when brainstorming on what looks attractive versus what doesn’t.
- Historical Changes – In Steve Blank and Bob Dorf’s book “Startup Owner’s Manual“, they talk about having a “deck” of canvases showing the changes to the model over time – the “Activity” Feature in Strategyzer preserves your changes.
What I Don’t Like:
- There is no free version – It would be nice if this was a freemium model where you could model your own ideas at no charge by have to subscribe to collaborate or have access to the advanced features, such as the financial export.
- There is no concept of “flow” – When explaining the canvas, it almost always follows a story or flow. One post-it is added at a time to explain the relationship. The canvas in Strategyzer has everything, but there is no way to play the canvas as a flow having one box appear after another or having arrows go from one to the next. I think it would be a small, but helpful change to add an index value attribute that could auto build the canvas.
- There is no “share” feature – I foresee the Business Model Canvas becoming a corporate communication tool – like RACI or Gantt charts. A tool that creates a common understanding and vocabulary for the business. To use it this way though, it would be nice if there was a “share” link that would provide a private URL to a png version of the canvas that could be included in a corporate internet or to users that should have occasional “read-only” access (as opposed to collaborators added to the project). While an export is offered, it would become outdated quickly or require hosting elsewhere – a simple URL that will always be fresh would be nice.
Overall though, it’s a pretty slick tool. If you’re team is excited about using the Business Model Canvas, this is a logical choice. We’re using it at LeanCog!