Product strategy, roadmapping and development can be fun. You are creating something. Maybe it is a tool to streamline a business process or a consumer app aimed at improving experience. Regardless of its purpose, the process of seeing something come to fruition through creativity and collective team effort can be one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences you ever participate in. It can also be expensive, frustrating and end in complete failure. The reason for this often lies with skipping the single most important step: Identification of the primary problem(s) requiring a solution. Taking the time to define your strategy and how the product fits into your larger digital strategy keeps product teams on-track and focused.
Persona development in product strategy, management and marketing is critical to successful outcomes. Taking the time to understand who you are building a solution for (and who you aren’t) ensures that the user journeys and ultimately user stories align to user need. Skipping this step will almost always result in poor adoption, usability issues, failure to launch, poor returns on product marketing and worse yet, scope creep. Product teams should take a fresh look at persona maps and go even deeper into user behaviors, demographics, tendencies and potential roadblocks to adoption.
When you make an investment in a new digital product, you must be prepared for a long-term commitment. Getting a product to market often requires acceptance of 80% of the desired features with minor adjustments delivered post launch. Even the best product teams who have conducted customer feedback sessions and run A/B tests will receive the most useful usability feedback within the first 120 days of a product launch. This is normal and your product strategy should anticipate routine, iterative development for the life of the product. Remember, digital is all about experience. If your user’s feel you are disconnected and apathetic to their experience, they will abandon. Steady product updates and carefully planned features will keep users engaged.
You have thoroughly documented the problem or use case. You have also documented your business case and the value of moving forward.
You have defined the personas to be considered and your target audience represents a meaningful portion of your existing or prospective business.
You fully understand the current state process for ALL of your personas and have solicited input from across your organization to ensure there are no gaps.
Before diving into detailed requirements and after mapping your current state, you have detailed what you want your user journeys to look like.
At a minimum your executive team supports the effort. At best, the whole organization is behind the effort.
Effective product strategy includes developing a roadmap which includes all phases of planning from process mapping to persona development and user journeys. Product roadmaps are not only the “list of things to build” but include the business case development and post-launch analysis that help you to continue refining. Your roadmap may include only one product or, in larger organizations it may include multiple products and may consist of a multi-project program plan. Regardless, it should facilitate effective prioritization and decision making. Planning your roadmap may consist of some or all of the following steps or processes.
You have a plan in place, you have buy in from your team and budget to start work. You understand who the product owner is, you’ve identified your Subject Matter Experts and executive stakeholders and have a dedicated project manager to oversee the build. You’ve determined the best development methodology to follow for the product (Agile, Waterfall, Hybrid) and begin to assemble a project team. Some or all of the following may look familiar:
Congratulations! You’ve successfully launched your product. Now the real fun begins! During product development phases, you carefully selected your analytics tools for your single or omni-channel product. You now have more data than you know what to do with! The sooner you make sense of it, the quicker you can provide guidance to your product development team which is ready and willing to optimize or bug-fix where needed. Your Marketing team may have launched some high-level campaigns, but are waiting for more refined product insights to create more curated content and drive adoption for more targeted campaigns. Where do you begin?
Product Marketing is integral to any product’s success. You may have the best idea and may have developed a world-class app or SaaS product but if you haven’t contemplated your product marketing strategy you will likely be frustrated at your lack of growth. To market you product effectively, we look (again) at your client segmentation and user personas. Digital marketplaces are identified early on. Is your sales strategy B2B or B2C? Are you relying solely on app store downloads or are you leveraging industry press sources, news sources and possibly social media? Are you willing to pay to drive awareness of your new product or are you relying on the familiarity of a legacy brand? All of this informs the way you bring your product to market and the probability of success.