What Goes Into A Product Strategy?

I recently wrote an answer to “How do product goals, objectives, and tactics relate to the product strategy?” for the excellent blog Ask A Good Product Manager. Here is a copy of my answer but to read what other Product Managers have to say, click here.

Are your goals/objectives and tactics essentially the product strategy? If you’ve defined what you want to achieve (goals), the way that they can be measured (objectives), and then the plans for how to get there (tactics), isn’t this essentially your product strategy?

A product strategy includes goals, objectives, and tactics; however, what differentiates it from other strategic documents is the purpose and supporting content that explains – and perhaps even justifies – how the strategy will meet its goals. The product strategy will ultimately be the document that guides the Product Manager’s decisions through Product Management activities over a specific time period.

The product strategy’s overall purpose is to help your company achieve corporate goals and therefore should be aligned to the corporate strategy. The corporate strategy should direct the goals for the product strategy.

As the document is strategic, it should also include how the product strategy will be competitive. An assessment of the market should be conducted before you write your tactical plan and can consist of one or more of these elements:

  • Competitor analysis
  • Product comparisons
  • Market and industry trends
  • Customer insight
  • Structure of current product/brand offerings

The information from this research will help you build a SWOT analysis, identifying areas where you might want to focus your product strategy to help you gain an advantage over your competitors’ products. If the strategy is for a completely new product, it’s often better to conduct your research and analysis using Porter’s Five Forces.

Sometimes, I do my research before I define my product objectives or at this point I go back to my objectives and refine or add to them. I also do a quick check to make sure the focus of my strategy is still in line with my goals.

A good reference tool to help you think through your product strateg(ies) is Ansoff’s Growth Share Matrix:
Ansoffs Growth Matrix
You can now start to draft your tactics and from this you should also start to think through what resources you will need to implement the strategy. The last section should be dedicated to how you would evaluate progression and the attainment of your goals and objectives throughout implementation. It can also include key milestones.

As a final note, remember that all strategies are living documents. They guide decisions but may also need to respond and change with the market so regular research is required to ensure your strategy maintains relevant.

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