All great products start with a clear strategy that is customer and market-driven. Your strategy defines the direction of your product and what you want to achieve. Establishing this first aligns the organization and keeps everyone focused on the work that matters the most. It tells the team where the product is headed and what needs to be done to get there.
The main purpose of a strategy is to align executives and other key stakeholders around how the product will achieve the high-level business objectives. It also provides the product manager with a clear direction to guide the team through implementation and to communicate the value of the product to cross-functional teams, such as sales, marketing, and support.
A product strategy is the foundation for the entire product lifecycle. As product leaders develop and adjust their product strategy, they zero in on target audiences and define the key product and customer attributes necessary to achieve success.
Strategy is comprised of three parts: vision, goals, and initiatives.
Your vision includes details on the market opportunity, target customers, positioning, a competitive analysis, and the Go-to-Market plan. It describes who the customers are, what they need, and how you plan to deliver a unique offering.
Goals are measurable, time-bound objectives that have clearly defined success metrics associated with them. They help you set what you want to achieve in the next quarter, year, or 18 months. Here are a few examples:
Initiatives are the high-level efforts or big themes that need to be implemented to achieve your goals. Here are some examples:
Your strategy provides the foundation for planning your roadmap, defining your features, and prioritizing your work. To visualize your strategy and see how it ties to your execution plan, it helps if you link releases and features to initiatives and goals. This allows you to analyze your roadmap at a high level and to discover any gaps. It is easier to understand the relationships between product lines, products, goals, initiatives, and releases when you can see them all in one view. This also helps you to identify "orphan" goals or initiatives and adjust your plans accordingly.
A great strategy starts with a clear product plan, a vision, and a canvas that explains how customer and market forces shape the product's direction. The first step is to have a north star that tells you where your product is headed.