Ask A Good Product Manager

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What goes in to a product strategy besides goals, objectives, and tactics?

Posted on June 21, 2009 · 8 Comments

Question: How do product goals, objectives, and tactics relate to the product strategy?

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?

Answer from Janey Wong of brainmates: A product strategy does include 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:

Current Products New Products
Current Markets Market Penetration Strategy Product Development Strategy
New Markets Market Development Strategy Diversification Strategy

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.

8 other answers so far ↓

  • PuristProductManagement // Jun 22, 2009 at 4:09 am

    Agree. I also think that the most important aspect of a product strategy is understanding how the product will be positioned within the market – i.e. a positioning document. For me, creating a product strategy is very much a collaborative process between; Sales, Marketing, business development and technology with product management pulling the strings.
    The reason for this is 2 fold:
    1 – to be able to get access to all the relevant information as required.
    2 – to be gain buy in to the strategy from all the key departments.

  • Raj // Jun 23, 2009 at 1:16 am

    Great points by both Janey and PuristPM.

    Another angle I’d like to add is this. Product goals, objectives and tactics should follow from product strategy.

    In this sense, product strategy comes first. Then you derive goals, objectives and tactics.

    As Janey says product strategy should be in sync with and flow from corporate strategy.

    Hope this makes sense and is helpful.

    – Raj
    Accompa – Affordable Requirements Tool for Product Managers

  • Stewart Rogers // Jun 23, 2009 at 6:19 am

    I agree with Purist that defining the strategy is a collaborative effort (more for validation and alignment), however make no mistake that product management owns the strategy and therefore has final say. Assuming you have the facts to justify your say. :-)

    And although I agree with what Janey says, this smells a little like competitive strategy. The competitive strategy is only one aspect of your product strategy and you have to be mindful of the red ocean.

    The piece to remember, your strategy is the “how” of a complete story that also tells “who”, “what”, “why” and how it is aligned.

    It is hard work, will change weekly (maybe, but be aware it might be) and as product managers this is the majority of your job so apply the time necessary.

    Stewart

  • What goes into a product strategy other than goals, objectives and tactics | brainmates - product management people // Jun 24, 2009 at 2:58 am

    […] 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. […]

  • Mara Krieps // Aug 25, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Agree with most of the comments above.

    One key point to add: Your strategy should enable you to say “No” with confidence, as in the inevitable situation when you’re presented with a “great” opportunity that doesn’t align with your strategy.

    A clearly articulated strategy will provide you with the means to say, “No and here’s why”. The benefit to you and the product: many cycles saved, and resources protected for the critical work that needs to be done.

  • uberVU - social comments // Oct 30, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim_Holland: “What goes into a product strategy beside goals-objectives and tactics?” by @jefflash http://bit.ly/t75iH #prodmgmt #agile #scrum…

  • David Locke // Nov 1, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Goals and objectives cover just about all of it. The issue is what range of goals. I’ve put channel development on the roadmap. I’ve put ecologies on the roadmap like 3rd-party developers, modelers, and content developers. If organizational capabilities need to be there to sell product, then they need to be on the map.

    Market transitions from Moore’s technology adoption lifecycle need to be scheduled as well, along with marketure, as in technical marketure supporting those transitions, personas need to be on there.

    If you are in late market, your late market strategy will involve the product, so that needs to be there. The same goes for recession response, technical commoditization manuevers, and price commoditizatin manuevers.

    If it is “in offer,” it should be on the map. That includes data center operational goals like ensuring capacity and 24/7/365 service, recovery, rollover, and geomirroring. If it matters put it on the roadmap.

    The roadmap should inform the PM as to the scope of the influence they will need by a certain date. But, certain dates are uncertain, so think of the roadmap as an asynchronous clock. This before that. Hey, I better take the CIO to lunch, I’ll need something from him a year from now.

  • Tom Leung // Aug 29, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    I’d make a strong argument for really nailing customer empathy and that be a key driver to your product strategy. I recent wrote a post about that here: http://tinyurl.com/3a9htku

What do you think?