söndag 24 november 2013

Thoughts around Product Strategy

I have had reasons lately due to an upcoming workshop within my company, to give product strategy some thought. Product strategy is an important factor to the success or failure of a product or a suite of products and its important to stay on top of this, possibly fine tuning it to fit the needs of an identified customer base.

Setting a product strategy is a critical step when beginning the journey of a product or for that matter a set of products. The strategy defines and outlines the direction that needs to be taken but also the goal with a particular product.

Defining a product strategy is something that is part of the job as product manager and its necessary that this strategy answers some critical questions such as who will buy this product and why? What business problems and value does this product resolves for the customer buying it?

It is also however important to outline the minimal capabilities a product requires to fulfill customer needs, but also define the characteristics of why that product is better, or easier, or whatever unique selling point associated with the product might be.

The product strategy’s overall purpose is to help your company achieve corporate goals and therefore should be aligned to the corporate strategy. The corporate strategy should direct the goals for the product strategy. For maximum success, its extremely important that domain expertise is valued and is empowered by management within an organization developing a product. This is the job of the product manager. An unempowered product manager is a product manager that will struggle with his task. Ultimately the product will suffer and the team behind it will lose in morale. If the company strategy is weak in the sense of providing direction to product strategies, this may also impact the individual product strategies negatively.

Input should come from those able and capable of understanding the market segment. Getting good understanding of the competitive landscape is critical and its important to point out that this doesn’t not only applies to capabilities, features and ease of use etc but also to the pricing model as the basis for selling it.

Developing the product strategy, although owned by Product Management, involves multiple functions within the company and the close collaboration between these different functions. Often you will find conflicts between different functions which are necessary to be resolved or bridged. However, ownership should never be slipped into the hands of the others.

A product strategy should not be a 60 pages document outlining all details, but a message that answers the questions mentioned above in a concise and well articulated way and easy enough for everyone to understand to allow buy in. The roadmap and the execution or project plan is merely vehicles to reach the goal of the strategy, and if all goes well, the product provides a revenue stream for the company.

To conclude, that the most important factor around product strategy is to have empowered owners of the product strategy to allow for maximum buy-in from the teams developing, marketing, selling, deploying and supporting a product.

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