Product Vision – An Exercise in Defining Expectations

As a product manager, deciding what features to build into a product can be difficult. There are often several groups of stakeholders who all think their ideas are important and should take priority. Additionally, there are data and information gathered through user-testing and usage metrics that shed light on directions a product could take. In an ideal world, you would have enough resources to be able to build all of the features requested at the same time. Obviously, we rarely live in this ideal world. Being able to balance this cacophony of voices can be difficult. How should a product manager decide what’s important?

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How do you prioritize these features?

 

One of the first things a product owner and the team of stakeholders should do is define a product’s vision statement. The product vision statement is a two sentence statement that explains your product, its audience, purpose and how you will differentiate yourself from other products in the market. While a vision statement is not an official artifact of Scrum, a framework to implement Agile development methodologies, it can be added to Scrum to help guide the team.

Here’s a quick example of a product vision statement I wrote for Tinder, a popular dating app.

For tech-savvy singles who want to easily connect with other singles, Tinder is a smart phone dating app that allows users to quickly connect with other users in their area. Unlike other dating websites like Match.com, our product’s availability on smartphones provides an engaging, real-time, location-based dating experience.

A product vision statement should have a few components. Here are the components with corresponding information from the sample vision statement.

  • the target customer – “For tech-savvy singles”
  • the customer’s need – “who want to easily connect with other singles”
  • your product’s key benefit – “allows users to quickly connect with other users in their area”
  • a statement of primary differentiation – “our product’s availability on smartphones provides an engaging, real-time, location-based dating experience”.

You can also include a statement on how this product will support your company’s strategy.

The vision statement is useful in a few ways. It becomes a guiding artifact your team should use to determine if a feature makes the cut. If the feature doesn’t get your product to your vision, then it should not be a priority. Additionally, the vision statement can become your elevator pitch. It’s an easy way to summarize your product for investors or customers in less than 30 seconds.

As a product owner, you own the vision statement. You make sure the team knows and sticks to the vision articulated in the statement. About once a year, the team should revisit the vision statement to see if it needs to be updated.

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