Over the past few weeks we’ve considered a number of key product management tools. Today we will look at two of the most important: the Product Vision and Product Strategy documents. Each of these elements fulfills a distinct function, but are often presented together.
Defining a Product Vision Document
The Product Vision document looks into the future. It presents a 30,000-foot view of what you plan for the product to be in the future and its anticipated value.
The Role of the Product Strategy Document
Your Product Strategy document explains what high-level actions will need to take place in order for your product to live up to the anticipated deliverables in the Product Vision document. Just as important, the Product Strategy document sets boundaries for activities that should not be pursued.
It’s easy to understand why these two vital documents are often presented together.
Three Things Product Vision and Strategy Should Provide
A well conceived Product Vision and Strategy will:
- Present a statement about what you envision the product will be in the future and how it will benefit its market.
- Cover high-level actions that must be taken in order to fulfill the promise presented in your document.
- Outline measurable objectives that include both short and long-term goals as they relate to the product.
Characteristics Specific to a Well Developed Product Vision
- Present a clear view of where you see the product in one year or perhaps many years, depending on the product lifecycle.
- Define your target customers and how the product will help them solve challenges. Clarify the value to be derived from the product.
- Set a high bar that pushes product team innovation.
- Make sure that the level you set is high enough that it won’t change every time there’s a shift in market dynamics.
Characteristics of an Excellent Product Strategy
A well thought out product strategy can set the stage for your product roadmap. Your Product Strategy needs to offer clearly defined phases that lead up to meeting the Product Vision. It should include the key activities your product team will undertake toward meeting the Product Vision. Your Product Vision acts as your north star guiding your decisions. However, your Product Strategy will evolve over time in response to changing market conditions.
Your Product Strategy should also be centered on objective time lines associated to business metrics related to customers, the competition, the market, or financials. You also need to include shorter-term milestones with specific deliverables. Make it clear all along the way what the next steps should be.
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A great strategy starts with a clear product plan, a vision, and a canvas that explains how customer and market forces shape the product’s direction. The first step is to have a north star that tells you where your product is headed.