To learn more about how product-led growth can help your Startup, along with many other strategies, come check out our Spotlight on Startups on November 17th. Register here »
What would you need to build your customer base, drive revenue, and eventually see growth?
An amazing product that stands out, of course.
In order to support your product, you must have an equally effective, market-driven strategy. But what if your product strategy isn’t in line with the company’s overall strategic vision? Strategic misalignment can lead to poor decisions and flawed execution. Here are ways to ensure that you not only have a well-defined product strategy, but a strategic alignment across all vital points throughout your business as well.
Foundation: What is the Vision You Want to Achieve?
First, you need to think beyond what your product is — your product vision is about the why. Why does your product exist? What and who is it for? This vision is what will guide you towards the best path forward, spark responses from your audience, and build customer loyalty. Having an ambitious and future-proof product vision matters.
The vision for your product must be aligned with your company vision, and must be attainable through a clear-cut product strategy that’s also aligned with the overall company strategy. Let’s say you’re a smartphone company that aims to achieve 60% market share in the next 5 years. Will your product help reach that goal? How much market share will that product gain for the company towards its 60-percent goal?
A notable example of this is Microsoft’s product strategy. The tech giant’s vision is “to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential,” and as reflected in the success of their digital tools and platforms catering to various sectors, they’ve delivered well beyond their original, decades-old ‘computer-in-every-home’ promise. As CEO Satya Nadella says, their customer solutions and products “enable people, organizations, and entire industries to not only thrive but reimagine the world.”
Product Strategy: The Link Between Your Vision and Roadmap
Too often, products or even teams end up fragmented due to the lack of direction in attaining that product vision. As a result, the product roadmap also gets disconnected from the product vision and strategy (as we will discuss later on).
To avoid these pitfalls of the “feature factory approach,” many companies rely on objectives and key results (OKRs) to focus on a clear, unified strategy. Key results at the organizational level can trickle down as objectives farther down in the organizational structure, and objectives become more specific as you go. Here’s an example:
- Organizational OKRs – top-level objectives to be reached quarterly or annually; KRs may include number of deals acquired, revenue increase, and product launches
- Product Team OKRs – objectives are often closely aligned with the organization’s; KRs at this stage will focus on launching new product initiatives from a high level; uses adoption and engagement metrics to track a product’s active user count and amount of value delivered
- Individual OKRs – objectives set for product managers or directors for handling specific user needs; KRs may include post-launch review of features and metrics used to gauge outcomes
While this particular approach to OKRs goes from the top down, it can also be implemented with a bottom-up approach. For example, a director might not understand where customers are experiencing friction in their product experience (which frequently manifests as an increased churn rate). Setting your own OKRs helps you decide from a product manager’s perspective how to provide more value to customers and the company. This also has the added benefit of providing your front-line teams with actionable insights, feedback, and guidance.
Building a Product Roadmap
Your product roadmap is the glue that brings it all together, making sure that you have a clear and strategic alignment across all points and a cohesive product. A common mistake product teams make is focusing too much on deadlines, thereby forgetting to keep the product roadmap updated and failing to communicate product developments to customers and key audiences.
An ideal product roadmap:
- Clearly conveys the product strategy
- Connects to high-level objectives
- Is tailored to the right audience
- Has a comprehensive outline of features, timeline, and goals (both product-specific and company-specific)
The two most common classifications of roadmaps include delivery-focused roadmaps and timeline roadmaps, and the type you’ll choose will depend on your objectives and overall product strategy. Whichever kind you use, roadmaps are integral in fulfilling the product vision and executing the strategy. Just as your phone’s GPS system provides you with flexible, updated directions, a product roadmap enables you to seamlessly execute your strategy while avoiding detours and delays.
Without a vision, strategy, and roadmap, you’ll likely end up launching a product that has too many features, with no guarantee that they will all deliver value to the customer. At the end of the day, it’s about bringing all stakeholders together towards common goals, and a common understanding of what the vision, strategy, and roadmap should look like.
Want to learn more about how product-led growth can help your Startup, along with many other strategies? Come check out our Spotlight on Startups on November 17th. Register here »
Photography by Alvaro Reyes via Unsplash.