What needs to be done to get your product closer to the product vision? This is your strategy and product objectives. We are then talking about defining what to do, how to do it, in what order to do it, and what metrics tell us that we are going in the right direction once the why to do it has already been defined in the product vision.
The strategy and objectives provide a path to be followed and metrics that show whether or not we are in the right direction. Without a clearly defined strategy and objectives, it is very difficult to define the most appropriate team structure and what needs to be done to achieve these objectives.
As you already have your product vision, you need to understand what you need to do to execute your product vision, that is, to get where you want to go.
Below are some tools that will help you create your product strategy:
As explained in my book “Product management: How to increase your software’s chances of success“, to create your strategy, you need to have a good understanding of your market in five aspects:
This work must be coordinated by the head of product in conjunction with the marketing leadership. Probably this type of analysis has been done in a timely manner. My recommendation is to make market analysis a permanent discipline, that is, once the first version with the items above has been created, update monthly to ensure you have the most up-to-date information about your market.
From your market analysis, the next step is to understand your product’s position in this market. Both the current position and the position you want to occupy when you have executed your product vision. A good tool to help with this understanding is to do SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal items (from your product development team, or your company) over which you, your team, or your company have some control, items that help or hinder your product to achieve your vision. Opportunities and threats are the elements external to the organization, that is, over which the organization has no control, and which can positively or negatively influence the achievement of the product’s vision. It has to do with the market analysis described above.
Filling in the SWOT should be a team effort. The heads of product must have one or more sessions together with people who can contribute to this analysis. Leaders of your team and other areas are the right audiences for this type of session. How to organize a SWOT analysis session:
Once you have your final version of the SWOT analysis, you have 12 items that can serve as the focus of your strategy. I say “can” because you don’t have to work on all the items at the same time. Here, once again, the ability to prioritize comes in. Bearing in mind that SWOT was designed to help us show the path that needs to be taken to achieve our product vision.
These discussions should also be held in groups, and can even be done in the continuation of the creation of the SWOT analysis. With these discussions, you will already have an alignment between the leadership of the different areas regarding the product strategy.
OKR means Objective and Key Results. It is a management tool that serves to align and monitor the execution of the strategy. This tool has been used at Google since its inception and was brought there by John Doerr, an employee of Intel, the company where this tool was created. Several technology companies today use OKRs, such as Locaweb, Conta Azul, Gympass, Linkedin, Amazon, Adobe, Baidu, Dropbox, Facebook, Netflix, and Spotify. OKR is a framework derived from a management technique called Management by Objectives, a term created by Peter Drucker in his book The Practice of Management, from 1954.
It is a very simple yet powerful tool. You define together with the team some objectives for a period – usually a quarter or a year – and define which metrics you will use to show that the objective is being reached. Each objective can address one or more items in your SWOT analysis or represent something that you want to execute from your vision.
For example, let’s say one of your goals is “Achieve record purchases per month in our website”. To achieve this goal, you can define the following key results:
The team should look at the OKRs every week to see if the metrics are moving in the right direction and understand if there are any impediments to be removed or something to be done to accelerate the achievement of the objectives. More frequent deliveries and measurements help to achieve objectives. If there are only monthly deliveries and measurements, the team will only have two chances in the quarter to test their idea of â€‹â€‹how to move the metric. If there are weekly deliveries and measurements, there are 12 opportunities to evaluate and change course if necessary.
There, you now have your product strategy, the objectives you want to achieve, and the metrics that will tell you if you are reaching your objectives. Your next step will be to define the most appropriate team structure to execute your strategy and achieve your goals, a topic for the next chapter.
Your product evolves as the team works on it and you get closer to your product vision. Much is learned about the users of the product, their problems, and needs. New alternatives may appear to help its user to solve their problems and needs. The owner of the digital product can also revisit his strategic objectives and, consequently, revisit the objectives defined for the digital product.
In addition, strengths and weaknesses can change over time, and opportunities and threats can appear or disappear. So it is important to understand that neither the vision nor the product strategy and objectives are written in stone. They can and should be revisited periodically.
My suggestion is that they be revisited annually, or when some relevant event happens, such as when there is a change in the company’s strategic objectives, or when an alternative appears that solves the user’s problem or need in a different way than yours. product, or when a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic occurs.
For OKRs, my suggestion, as mentioned above, is that they are defined quarterly and reviewed weekly. This will give your team a good execution cadence.
In the next chapter, we will see different ways to structure the development team in order to execute the product strategy in order to achieve the product vision.
So, did you miss something in this chapter? What else would like me to cover?
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