The Straightforward Guide to Product Strategy (With Templates) | Process Street | Checklist, Workflow and SOP Software (2022)

The Straightforward Guide to Product Strategy (With Templates) | Process Street | Checklist, Workflow and SOP Software (1)Building a solid product strategy is often thought of as a complex challenge and many companies fail to approach it systematically.

Other teams sometimes operate with a lean methodology and think this excuses them from developing a strong product strategy to guide development.

It doesn’t.

A solid product strategy is an important part of building a functional and coherent product and it shouldn’t be overlooked.

In this Process Street article, we will avoid long explanations and unnecessary detail, cutting straight to the point to give you a clear and actionable understanding of product strategy.

And we have provided an actionable product strategy template you can use in your business!

For those of you who came just for the template, here it is:

What is a product strategy?

A product strategy is about understanding how your product will develop in the future, while being responsive to external factors. It’s not just about creating a good product, but about creating the right product.

In its most basic form, a product strategy seeks to tie together three main things and turn that knowledge into an actionable approach:

  • The nature and needs of the market
  • Your key features and unique differentiators
  • The business goals of your company

By understanding these different factors, you will be able to create a product which people want to use and want to buy.

Practically, a product strategy should serve the following purposes:

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  1. An assessment of your current situation
  2. An understanding of the market opportunities
  3. A roadmap for how you can move from your current situation to situate yourself within the available opportunities.

For investors, a product strategy will help them see how healthy the business is within its niche. For employees, a product strategy should show them what work they will need to do, and why.

This presents a large scope for a product strategy but it is achievable through these four elements:

  • Vision
  • Roadmap
  • Big picture context
  • Initiatives

Let’s look at each individually.

The product strategy vision

The Straightforward Guide to Product Strategy (With Templates) | Process Street | Checklist, Workflow and SOP Software (2)

The vision you outline will be the high-level overview of what the business is trying to achieve long term.

This is where you would include your competitive analyses and assess the changing nature of the market.

You can then outline what market opportunities you have identified and how you intend to capitalize on those.

You can illustrate why your company is suited to capitalize on the available market opportunities – or, perhaps, the weaknesses which your company possesses that you need to combat in order to survive in a changing and highly complex market.

Useful tools for this section include:

  • Third party industry insights reports
  • Competitor analysis reports
  • A SWOT analysis
  • Lean prioritization matrix

The product strategy roadmap

Your roadmap is a practical timeline for how changes will come about.

Some market opportunities may require significant changes to your product or products. These changes may require various stages of action:

  • Product research
  • Product prototyping
  • Product development
  • Product testing
  • Product accreditation
  • Product launch
  • Product assessment
  • Product improvements

Building out new products isn’t as simple as building one thing and declaring it done. Similar to the bulleted examples listed above, if your company product is a piece of software – a SaaS product, for example – then how you develop new features can rely on interdependencies within the platform.

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If you decide you want to offer 10 new features because they will appeal to enterprise clients, then before you begin that effort to develop the first feature you may have to make significant changes to the database, or overhaul the platform’s security to meet the standards required of enterprise software.

Sometimes there is an enforced chronology which results from the nature of the work you are trying to do, other times you will have to work out that chronology yourself.

In the roadmap section, you can also define the type of methodology you intend to use to work through the roadmap – outlining the extent to which your methodology will make your roadmap flexible and responsive.

The product strategy big picture context

The big picture context presents the minutiae of the roadmap.

The necessary changes or feature additions can be explained here in greater detail. You may want to give some very rough estimations for these features while outlining how they fit into the overall goal of the company.

How you present this section may depend on whether your development approach is more waterfall or agile.

If you take an agile approach to development then you may want to illustrate the big picture context through detailed user stories.

This section should serve as a practical guide from which your development team can get started immediately. This can form the background context they draw from when constructing their sprints.

The product strategy initiatives

The Straightforward Guide to Product Strategy (With Templates) | Process Street | Checklist, Workflow and SOP Software (3)

The initiatives are like high-level action items.

With these initiatives it is useful to outline a series of factors:

  • What is the purpose of the initiative?
  • Who is responsible for the initiative?
  • How will the initiative be approached?
  • What will be done to achieve the initiative?
  • What is the end result of the initiative?
  • How does the initiative contribute to the company’s success?
  • By what metrics can the initiative be judged to have been a success or not?

So, for example, our fictional SaaS company wants to release 10 new features to attract enterprise clients and position itself differently in the market.

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In order to serve an enterprise segment, it needs to be able to demonstrate that the company is well run and its security levels are high. Without this foundational work, the 10 new features will not be able to achieve their goals.

The company decides to become ISO certified. This initiative may then contain the following information:

Product strategy example initiative

  • The purpose is to demonstrate adherence to the highest levels of cybersecurity and operational standards.
  • The COO is responsible for overhauling company processes to meet international standards
  • The COO will create a process team which will assess the operations of the different wings of the company and seek to make improvements where necessary.
  • The team will bring operations up to ISO-9001 and ISO-27032 standards.
  • The end result is that the company will be able to demonstrate to prospective clients that their data will be secure and well managed to the highest standards.
  • Providing potential clients with assurance of security will allow them to purchase the improved products of the business.
  • The company will be audited by an external assessor to determine whether or not standards have been suitably met.

Product strategy benefits

The benefits of a strong product strategy are:

  1. Clarity in business objectives and goals.
  2. An awareness of business risks and plans to tackle them.
  3. A well-communicated strategy which helps everyone in the company understand how they contribute to success.
  4. A series of practical steps to ensure time and resources are not wasted through indecision.
  5. An easy way to demonstrate your company’s strengths and intended future achievements to outside parties, e.g. investors.
  6. A central document to coordinate your workflows around if you are taking a business process management (BPM) approach.

How you use your product strategy will impact on what its benefits are.

As such, here are a few recommendations to make the most out of your product strategy:

  • Allow for flexibility – Things change and you should be prepared to adapt your plan to changing circumstances. This also allows for you to operate in an agile manner even though you have a detailed plan to follow.
  • Communicate the strategy – Your strategy shows how each person in the company contributes to the overall success of the business. Let your staff see the strategy so they can feel a degree of ownership over the company’s success.
  • Refer back to the strategy – When you start meetings, you can outline how the agenda relates to the product strategy and any KPIs or OKRs which have been decided upon. This situates all work in a broader business context and reinforces the collective effort of the company.
  • Create a summary document – A short document which outlines the product strategy, preferably using clear visuals, can provide an accessible way to communicate your strategy to third parties. This could be used for illustrating your strategy to investors or even to clients; showing them that you have a plan in place to work to meet their needs.

Product strategy template

So now you should understand broadly what is required in a product strategy, but where to get started?

Every product strategy will be different based on the needs of the business in question. There is no one size fits all approach to developing a product strategy.

However, it is possible to formulate a flexible process you can follow when looking to create a product strategy.

Below is a Process Street template for developing a product strategy. This template can be edited to add or remove tasks and information depending on your needs.

When you come to formulate a product strategy, you simply run the template as a checklist and follow the process; checking off completed tasks as you work through.

This template is designed to direct your efforts and give you a process to follow. However, the template also has interactive form fields throughout where you can enter information as you work through the checklist.

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This means that you can rapidly create a summary document.

There are two ways to do this. One way would be to export the completed checklist to a pdf file format. This shows the reader your conclusions and also the process you took to reach those conclusions.

The other way would be to connect Process Street via Zapier to a document generator. All the information you enter into the Process Street form fields can then be moved directly into a document template – automatically creating a summary document with your design requirements.

You can look through the product strategy template here:

If you are looking to launch a new product and need something slightly more informal than a product strategy template but with the same broad theme, you can check out this product launch checklist instead:

You could also use other Process Street templates to help you construct your product strategy. Templates like this SWOT analysis template below:


Alternatively, if you’re looking for some templates for the document itself, you could check out some of these resources:

Create a product strategy to drive your business forward!

Every product strategy will be different.

Each business has different needs, goals, and surroundings.

A brand new software startup might look to create a slim and minimal product strategy, where a large multinational with factories all over the world might produce a 100-page document!

Whatever the size of your business, if you start correctly and follow a coherent process you should be able to produce a strategy which stands the test of time and helps drive your business forward!

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How have you approached your product strategies in the past? What tools have you used to help you on your journey? Let us know in the comments below!

FAQs

What should be included in a product strategy? ›

A product strategy should include information about the product vision, unique value proposition, target market, and goals.. With this foundation, you can develop key product requirements, such as features, design, user flow, and technical specifications.

How do you write a product strategy? ›

How To Create A Good Product Strategy
  1. Identify your target audience. ...
  2. Understand the problem. ...
  3. Define your product vision. ...
  4. Define the current state and target condition. ...
  5. State product design principles. ...
  6. Stay in sync with other teams. ...
  7. Stay focused. ...
  8. Define success metrics.
18 Dec 2021

What are the 3 product strategies? ›

There are three standard types of product positioning strategies brands should consider: comparative, differentiation, and segmentation.

What is an example of a strategy? ›

For example, company A's strategy might be to become the cheapest provider in the smartphone market. Their managers then need to negotiate with suppliers to reduce the costs of the electronic components used in production. This is a tactic to achieve the set strategy.

What is importance of product strategy? ›

A product strategy outlines a company's strategic vision for its product offerings by stating where the products are going, how they will get there and why they will succeed. The product strategy enables you to focus on a specific target market and feature set, instead of trying to be everything to everyone.

What is product strategy role? ›

3 Minute Product Manager: Strategic Role of Product Management

What is the 5 step process for strategy? ›

The five stages of the process are goal-setting, analysis, strategy formation, strategy implementation and strategy monitoring.

What is the 7 step product planning process? ›

Although the product development process differs by industry, it can essentially be broken down into seven stages: ideation, research, planning, prototyping, sourcing, costing, and commercialization.

What is product strategy in simple words? ›

A product strategy is a high-level plan describing what a business hopes to accomplish with its product and how it plans to do so.

How do you approach a product strategy question? ›

There are only so many opportunities to prepare for product strategy interview questions!
  1. Step one: Set a business objective. First, we should confirm our understanding of the question and define a business objective. ...
  2. Step two: Generate solutions. ...
  3. Step three: Discuss solutions. ...
  4. Step four: Conclude.
25 Oct 2019

What are the five 5 forms of strategy? ›

Each of the 5 Ps stands for a different approach to strategy:
  • Plan.
  • Ploy.
  • Pattern.
  • Position.
  • Perspective.

What are the types of strategies? ›

What Are the Three Types of Strategy- And How You Can Apply Them!
  • Business strategy.
  • Operational strategy.
  • Transformational strategy.

What are strategy skills? ›

Strategic thinking skills are any skills that enable you to use critical thinking to solve complex problems and plan for the future. These skills are essential to accomplish business objectives, overcome obstacles, and address challenges—particularly if they're projected to take weeks, months, or even years to achieve.

What are strategic goals examples? ›

Strategic goals: finance
  • Increasing revenue.
  • Attaining or maintaining profitability.
  • Growing shareholder value.
  • Diversifying your revenue streams.
  • Becoming a financially sustainable company.
  • Reducing production costs.
  • Increasing profit margin.
  • Setting revenue targets for new products.
19 Jul 2022

What are the 5 product strategies in marketing? ›

The 5 P's of marketing – Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and People – are a framework that helps guide marketing strategies and keep marketers focused on the right things.

What are the five elements of strategy? ›

These five elements of strategy include Arenas, Differentiators, Vehicles, Staging, and Economic Logic. This model was developed by strategy researchers, Donald Hambrick and James Fredrickson. To achieve key objectives, every business must assemble a series of strategies.

How do you develop a successful strategy? ›

Here are 10 steps you can take to build the best business strategies and execute them with precision:
  1. Develop a true vision. ...
  2. Define competitive advantage. ...
  3. Define your targets. ...
  4. Focus on systematic growth. ...
  5. Make fact-based decisions. ...
  6. Long term strategic business plan. ...
  7. Flexible strategy development.
1 Jul 2020

What is a successful strategy? ›

A successful strategic plan provides the information and guidance the management team needs to run the company with greater efficiency and help the business reach its full potential. Strategic planning helps managers make decisions based on logical assumptions and a clearer view of the future.

What is product strategy in simple words? ›

A product strategy is a high-level plan describing what a business hopes to accomplish with its product and how it plans to do so.

What is 5 P's strategy examples? ›

They are:
  • Plan.
  • Ploy.
  • Pattern.
  • Position.
  • Perspective.

What are the types of strategies? ›

What Are the Three Types of Strategy- And How You Can Apply Them!
  • Business strategy.
  • Operational strategy.
  • Transformational strategy.

What is the most important element of strategy? ›

Set clear Goals, Targets & Objectives

These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Without these elements, it will be difficult to track progress and know if the company is on track to achieve its vision and mission.

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