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4 Product Strategy Insights… and Why You Should Care

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Development of product strategies should be an ongoing, collaborative bi-directional effort between senior management and product management. Senior management sets the overall direction through the enterprise and business unit strategies. As the product strategies are developed and executed, they can affect the business unit strategies and the enterprise strategies. They also need to be reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the environment and to take advantage of new opportunities. Therefore, the approach to strategies needs to be flexible.

We have seen excellent success for our clients with the following…

4 product strategy insights:

1. Senior management not only communicates the enterprise and business unit strategies throughout the organization, but also meets with the product management team to review these business strategies in detail. Understanding the underlying rationale, particularly for any major changes in strategy, goes a long way toward alignment, coordination, and clarity.

Why you should care:

We worked with the group president of a large conglomerate to define its business unit strategies. When this set of strategies was communicated to the product managers, their reaction was, “Now we know what to do!”

2. Product managers work with their product development partners (for example, engineering, sales, marketing and operations) to lay out appropriate product strategies for their product lines or categories. Throughout this process, it is essential to refer back to the enterprise and business unit strategies to ensure alignment.

Why you should care:

As a product manager two of the most important roles you play are a communicator and leader. Involving your product development partners in the development of your product strategies will play out in the long-run with integration and buy-in.

3. Product managers present their strategic plans to senior management for feedback. It is natural to find that the sum of these plans will exceed the available resources, so senior management will need to weigh the relative merits and timing of the plans and come to a decision on project prioritization. It is imperative that resource issues be resolved across the product lines.

Why you should care:

This is the biggest problem area for our clients…the inability to balance resources and the appropriate number of projects. Sometimes there just aren’t enough resources to go around and great projects will have to be put on hold until resources are available. This decision takes courage and fortitude due to the intense pressure to squeeze just one more project into the process….it just doesn’t work. Overloading resources delays the whole portfolio of projects.

 4. Product managers, with their product development partners, create master market, product, technology, and platform road maps across product lines and categories. This will make evident gaps, inconsistencies, and unrealistic sequencing and timing.

Why you should care:

Roadmaps help you visualize and evaluate the feasibility of your product strategy. They also help in communicating and aligning with your partners and across product categories. We have seen engineering and product management develop separate and different roadmaps in the same organization, causing confusion on priorities. The savvy product manager leads their partners in developing a unified product roadmap… get your partners involved often and early. And don’t forget to work with your management team in standardizing your roadmap templates so all categories are critiqued equally.

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