This is the first in a three-part series on using product strategy to help your team do more with less.
Your team has limited time, budget, and resources but hard deadlines to meet, end users to answer to, and stakeholders to please. So you need to make every second, dollar, and meeting count.
The right planning will get you partway to success, but the decisions you make (or don’t make) today could be time-consuming and costly without a product strategy that meets both business and user needs. The correct choices and investments will pay off with increased and sustainable revenue in the future.
In this series, we’ll walk you through a holistic product strategy approach: You’ll learn how to synchronize your strategy and resources for the most efficient outcome, as well as what questions to ask, considerations to plan for, and roadblocks to avoid.
Finally, we’ll show you how to build a product that makes the most of your resources while bridging gaps that can derail your development. And we’ll leave you with a product strategy checklist to reference throughout your journey.
What is Product Strategy, and Why Should You Use It?
Product strategy is a framework for decision-making and keeping your teams focused on a single goal. You can think of it as the “bouncer” who decides which concepts, features, or changes get through the door during your product development process. Product strategy only lets in the product ideas with true potential to help you achieve your vision.
Your product strategy—like your product—is unique. But every product strategy incorporates specific goals, best practices, and tools to maximize your resources and help you develop an on-target product. Some benefits of product strategy include:
- Maximizing short-term investments for long-term benefits and revenue growth.
- Filtering and prioritizing questions and features to keep teams on track.
- Reducing and eliminating “shiny object syndrome” and wasted resources.
- Preventing you from investing valuable resources in a product that no one will use.
Product strategy offers insights and direction. It helps you build a clear roadmap to your destination and make the best use of your resources regardless of company size.
Without a strategy, it’s easy to get distracted and waste time, something that you can’t afford to do when your team is small or your resources are limited (or both).
Start With Why?
Your goal is to create a cohesive, effective product strategy that keeps teams focused, optimizes resources, and gets the best outcomes from your internal talent.
If you haven’t used product strategy before to develop successful products, your journey starts with a simple question: Why?
Why is the filter that helps you refine your vision. It clarifies your goal and puts it into terms that your teams will use as a gatekeeper for the avalanche of ideas bound to emerge during the product development process. Here’s where your product strategy fulfills the “bouncer” role: If a new feature, tool, or idea doesn’t serve your Why, you’ll be able to use your strategy to identify that right away and save you time and resources implementing the wrong thing.
Need help figuring out what your Why is? Here is a list of critical questions to ask before you begin developing the product to clarify your product strategy:
- What is our goal for this product?
- Which customers does it serve?
- What value does our product provide?
Finally, ask yourself whether you’ve considered the four core pillars of product strategy: Is it viable, valuable, feasible, and usable?
- Viable: Can our business support this product?
- Valuable: Will our users find value in this product?
- Feasible: Do we have the resources to build this product?
- Usable: Will our users choose to adopt this product?
If you have answers to all these questions, then you have a product with potential. More importantly, your answers will save time and resources by creating a filter that ensures your team focuses on the proper criteria and not ideas that don’t support your business goals.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Use Product Strategy Best Practices
Refining your product vision is a great start. But what do you do next? At this point, you’ve invested or are planning to invest significant resources in product development, and it pays to use the wisdom of the many people who developed successful companies and products that helped them scale. Here are four time-tested practices to consider:
Build a Consistent Framework
Using product strategy best practices ensures a consistent framework for decision-making, project management, testing, and reaching your goal most efficiently. Document your product vision, share it, and invest in the tools and project cadence to guide your team to success.
Set a Team Communication Cadence
Consistent communication requires listening to team members with diverse input; conducting retrospectives to look for what works and what needs improvement; and capturing asynchronous ideas that may be a goldmine for future products. In addition, daily stand-ups and retrospectives for both teams and team leaders can keep everyone informed.
Engage an Executive Champion
Everybody needs support, especially a product team. Ensure there’s an executive champion who can help get buy-in from leadership. They should understand the product’s value and promote adoption across the company. No team is an island—at some point, they’ll need support navigating the C-suite waters.
Identify Key Stakeholders
Stakeholders from inside and outside of the company can influence the product’s future. While a champion can help, you must keep stakeholders in the loop about product progress, feasibility, and customer value.
While there are many nuances to product strategy, stay focused and keep it simple as a small team. Keep your product vision in mind, get the tools you need, and keep everyone engaged to stay on track.
This is just the start of how you can use product strategy as the force multiplier it is for your team. In our next post, we’ll get into the details of how your strategy
Are you ready for a partner who takes a unique approach to your unique goals? Contact DockYard today to learn how we can help you reach success, faster.