The main objective of a product strategy is to create a plan to help a company achieve its overall goals. This plan should be clear and concise and reduce the time and effort in the development process while increasing growth and efficiency. To successfully execute the product strategy, a product manager should have access to the necessary resources and employ efficient development practices to meet the goals.
How Do Product Managers Set the Product Strategy?
Product strategy begins even before the product manager decides what type of products to create or which improvements to make. The strategy starts when the company's top executives deliberate on their long-term objectives for the future. These goals and this vision inform all the choices that are made in the product development process.
Align the Products to the Company Vision
Once the executives have established their long-term goals, they must relay the company vision to the product manager. The product manager must then take these goals and make product decisions to support them. If, for example, the company executives of a vehicle manufacturing firm decide that their product line should be 80% electric within the next ten years, it is a product manager's responsibility to figure out how to achieve this.
Examine the Product Portfolio
The product manager starts by analyzing how well their existing products align with long-term company goals. When deciding which gasoline-fueled cars to maintain, they need to consider which vehicles perform best in the market and have a high growth trajectory.
They may consider one type of vehicle, such as a minivan, SUV, or sedan, to cater to every demographic. They may also add new features to improve each product’s performance and enhance customer appeal.
Removing underperforming products provides product teams more time and additional resources to focus on the priorities and build new cars that align with the company strategy and meet the assigned goals. Pruning the product portfolio opens up new opportunities for better-performing products.
Conduct Market Research for Product-Market Fit
No product strategy is complete without aligning the product to the needs of the customer. To ensure the right product-market fit, the product manager must research the market to identify the target audience and answer the following questions:
- What opportunities exist in the market?
- What does the customer want?
- What are their pain points?
In addition to considering the customer’s needs, the product manager must continually assess whether the product aligns with and supports the long-term goals of the company.
How to Execute the Product Strategy
The product manager can communicate the product vision by using product development tools and collaborating with internal stakeholders. While the product manager guides the development process, it’s the team who will execute the strategy.
Use Product Roadmaps to Define the Strategy
Product roadmaps help to relay the product goals with specified timelines to product teams. When these visual roadmaps are clear and easily accessible to team members, it makes it easier to collaborate on the goals, provide feedback, and track KPIs.
An important goal when working with product roadmaps is to update them regularly so all product teams are aware of the product’s progress. By setting timeframes and milestones to work towards, you can ensure that the product strategy will be executed on time.
Create Agile, Cross-Functional Teams Who Work Collaboratively
While the product manager guides the process, they rely heavily on key team players to set tasks and objectives to meet the goals. Agile teams are a crucial component for executing product strategy in a timely manner. The essential members of an agile team include the product owner, scrum master, and the lead developer.
Even better, is when you can dedicate a team to a product line or major components as opposed to creating a team for each project and then releasing them to a central resource pool. By allowing engineering and product teams to be organized based on value streams you can work on creating new products or changing current products from project to project and keep the team relatively steady speeding up the initiation of each project.
The Product Owner
The product owner takes the product vision defined by the product manager and creates a series of tasks or product backlogs for their teams to follow. They must ensure proper sequencing of tasks to manage dependencies and prioritize product features to keep the production process moving forward efficiently.
The Scrum Master
The scrum master, or servant leader, is a facilitator and a coach who removes obstacles and helps their development teams to meet their assigned goals. They will ensure that their teams have all the resources they need to carry out the tasks on the product backlog. They will also schedule regular stand-up meetings to promote cross-collaboration between teams and facilitate operations.
The Lead Developer
The lead developer is responsible for guiding the product design and its features and delegating tasks to the design and engineering teams to build the product.
Implement an Agile Framework for Building Products Where Possible
Rather than employing rigid stage-gate methods in product development, agile frameworks offer a more flexible approach that enhances the execution of the product strategy by removing extensive documentation in favor of working prototypes and virtual experiences to prove the product.
Building a prototype in short stages and releasing it to the customer for feedback makes it easier to improve and iterate. This helps ensure the product aligns with the strategy and has the right product-market fit.
Set OKRs and KPIs
Defining the objectives and key results is a helpful way of aligning product teams to meet the company goals. Objectives state the goal; the goal may be to increase company revenue by 20% within a specified timeframe. However, objectives on their own are limited as they don’t provide a solution on how to achieve the goal.
Connect Objectives With Outcomes
Combined with outcomes, or key results, the product manager can identify the expected outcomes from the initiatives. The desired outcomes may be achieved by building a new product, updating an existing one, or entering new markets.
Make Use of KPIs
Key performance indicators offer a quantifiable way to measure the achievement of an objective. Metrics may include an increased percentage of market share, increased revenue, or an increase in new customers.
The Product Manager’s Role in Strategy Execution
Good product management skills are essential to ensure the product strategy is executed quickly and efficiently. By implementing the ideas listed above, a product manager can:
- Make efficient use of resources with less wastage
- Align product teams to the big-picture goals
- Improve the user experience by ensuring a good product market fit
- Lessen the time to market