You Should Use Frameworks & Templates When Developing Your Product Strategy
To develop a product strategy, most PMs use two or more strategic frameworks to make sure they’ve considered the business environment and potential futures from all angles. Many PMs also use product strategy templates and checklists.(See footnote 1)
These templates, checklists, and frameworks help you make sure that you’ve (more) fully considered the strategic problems faced by your product and help you thoroughly examine your options. They will lead you to comprehensive research (a good thing) and, by corollary, might lead you to develop a lengthy product strategy document.
This is good. Comprehensive is good.
But Don't Present Your Product Strategy Using the Same Comprehensive Frameworks & Templates
PLEASE, do NOT go for “comprehensive” when presenting to an executive audience (or any audience, for that matter). Don’t try to impress them with the sheer amount of research you’ve done.
Instead, TELL THE STORY of your product strategy.
The Product Strategy Story
For every product and company and market, the “story” will be different, but basically you want to explain, briefly:
The current state of the product.
The future state of the market and the opportunities that will present themselves.
WHAT you will do to take advantage of these opportunities, at a HIGH level – i.e. “what’s the strategic approach”?
HOW you are going to take advantage of these opportunities.
Product Strategy Story Example
Here’s a very brief and ultra-high-level example:
Product X is currently performing well in its market. Revenues are $30M, up 5% from the previous year. The gross margin is 70% and contribution margin is 40%. We have over 7,000 users at 110 customers using the product. Product X has 22% market share, behind leading competitors A (35%) and B (25%).
The market is maturing, however, and needs are changing. The core business is commoditizing – most competitors now have the same core functionality, customers regard offerings as largely interchangeable, and switching costs are low. New competitors are entering that have much lower cost structures and prices, but with “almost as good” functionality.
Result: prices falling by 50% across all vendors, within one year.
- The high-level strategy is to:
Lower on-going cost of sales and development for product X, to restore profitability.
Expand into and dominate a new market: customers who do A & B. This market opportunity is $X this year, expected to grow X% per year. Competitors also eying the space include: A, B, and C.
- The Plan:
Cost cutting initiatives for product X in core segment: (include list)
Enhance Product X to handle use cases of the new market
- Roadmap of upcoming features for Product X
- The Product Manager’s Desk Reference by Steve Haines contains some really excellent product strategy templates.