Optimizing Small Teams: How to Use Product Strategy for Enterprise Development Results

Four tan jigsaw puzzle pieces coming together, representing a small team using product strategy to achieve a larger product development goal.
Cynthia  Gandarilla

Marketing Manager

Cynthia Gandarilla

If you want your digital product to launch easily, perform well, and stand up to the competition, you need product strategy. Use our resources to get started on your unique strategy—and make it even stronger with ethical considerations—and get in touch today to learn how we can put it to work for you.

This is the second in a three-part series on using product strategy to help your team do more with less. Read our first post here.

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork with some tried-and-true best practices, it’s time to start crafting a product strategy that works for you and your team’s specific needs.

That means, first, focusing on your team. Product strategy can be the force multiplier to help your scrappy seed-stage team produce enterprise-level results, but it only works if everyone is on board, feels heard, and can contribute their unique skills to the process.

Then it’s time to consider your tech choices. The right one can be a springboard to launch you closer to your goals and set you up for long-term success. The wrong one can be a band-aid solution that leaves you scrambling to fill holes that keep you from growing.

Finally, make sure your definition of success is clear. Whether it’s user adoption, revenue generated, or any number of possible metrics, setting clear goals is key to creating a product strategy that maximizes your small team or limited resources.

Promote Team Collaboration

People make products. Products result from people working together, testing concepts, and constantly standing in the user’s shoes. If you’re working with fewer resources, less time, or any of a number of other constraints, you’ll need to leverage the genius that happens when even small groups of people come together to contribute their expertise and energy to make your product vision real.

Your structure might look different from anyone else’s, but most digital product development teams have some mix of product, design, and engineering talent. All three will be involved with and impacted by your product strategy.

Your product team (product managers, product owners, etc.) will put your strategy to use vetting new ideas and putting aside the ones that don’t serve your product right now. Designers and engineers will rely on your strategy to prioritize work and set goals throughout the development process.

Each team offers a deep skill set. However, you’ll get the best results when they work together, not separated from each other. True magic happens when these teams unite and build off one another’s ideas. Each team member will have unique insights based on their expertise as everyone comes together to build a better product.

To put it simply, collaboration is key.

But what does it take to create a culture where these teams can collaborate and work together to bring exceptional ideas to life? To start, establish consistent processes and procedures to guide their daily work, and metrics to guide them toward achievable goals. Again, culture is vital, and leadership must ensure that these teams are visible, heard, and supported.

This may seem like an obvious step, and one that falls outside the realm of product strategy. But without a collaborative groundwork to build on, too often teams fall into siloes and the holistic product strategy you need ends up tossed aside.

Small product teams can thrive in a collaborative environment, even if you have limited resources. These teams are often just as inventive because they learn to work together to pursue a single goal: making the best product for their customers.

Choose the Right Technology

Your choice of technology has a critical, long-term impact on not only the speed of your development now, but the long-term functionality of your product.

And just because you have a limited budget or small team size doesn’t mean you should limit your thinking to what you need right now. You’ll also need to consider the technology needed to scale as more users adopt your product. Balancing short-term needs with long-term goals should guide your choice, and will have a significant impact on your product strategy.

Take this example: You know you want to get to market quickly and you have a limited team to get there. So you choose a popular tech option like Ruby on Rails that you know your team can use to create an MVP quickly. Then, a few months after launch, your product starts taking off. That’s great! But now you’ve got a new problem: Your app simply can’t keep up with user demand. It has nothing to do with the talent of your team, and everything to do with the inherent limitations of the tech you chose at the start. Not only do you now need a solution to keep your users from abandoning you for a competitor, but your product strategy is even more constrained by what your tech can and can’t do.

Or take the alternative: You chose a tech option like Elixir with flexibility and scalability built in from the start. Not only did you avoid your scalability problem in the first place (and avoided losing any users while you found a solution), but your product strategy is also more flexible. That means saying yes to more things that serve your business goals, giving your design and engineering teams more freedom, and freeing up your product team members to focus on what’s next instead of workarounds for problems right now.

How can you choose the right tech to work with? Start by asking if it’s:

  • Feasible: Can you use it to bring ideas to life at a cost you can afford?
  • Functional: Does it do what your users want (without going overboard) and can your team develop, test, and deploy your product?
  • Flexible: Will the product you’re building now be able to adapt and grow to reach multiple verticals and markets?
  • Scalable: Can it grow as your company and product features grow without major overhauls along the way?
  • Stable: Will you be able to prevent unnecessary downtime and failures?
  • Capable of handling concurrency: Can it handle spikes in data or user volumes while providing an exceptional user experience?

While these criteria seem like a tall order, there are existing technologies that offer these benefits without breaking your budget. Programming languages like Elixir check all of those boxes and more.

Define and Measure Your Success

What does success mean to you? Deciding on the answer to that question—and tracking it with appropriate metrics—establishes an objective yardstick to evaluate team success, and plays a key role in your product strategy.

After all, your final goal informs much of the work you’ll be doing to build—and then use—your product strategy.

Each company has a different definition that may include financial measures like cost, revenue, or profitability; industry-specific metrics like market share or competitive standing; or customer-centered measures like adoption, renewal, or expansion.

How you choose to capture these metrics will vary depending on what they are and what tools your team uses. Regardless of what they are, however, your measures of success should be clear and understood by the entire team.

Your product strategy will help you set clear, achievable goals and convey them to your team. It will also help you prioritize the work that does the most to get you closer to success and set aside the ideas, features, or inputs that don’t.

With that tool in hand, your small team can work more efficiently and get more done, faster, than a much larger team without a guiding goal to reach for.

Once you’ve focused on your team dynamics, chosen a technology that will help you in the long haul, and set clearly defined measures of success, it’s time to bring everything together and execute your product strategy.

We’ll show you how to do that, and how to avoid some common product strategy roadblocks that could threaten your development process, in the next installment of our series.


Stay in the Know

Get the latest news and insights on Elixir, Phoenix, machine learning, product strategy, and more—delivered straight to your inbox.

Narwin holding a press release sheet while opening the DockYard brand kit box