HomeProduct ManagementProduct Vision - 5 Steps To An Impactful Vision Statement 

Product Vision – 5 Steps To An Impactful Vision Statement 

The product vision is an aspiration describing the future state of a product that a company wants to achieve. It’s a bridge between the company vision and product strategy. Every new product should start with a vision. And every existing product most likely will change its vision over time. This is the desired state you want to reach because this is how you know that the product is evolving.  

Why do you need to formulate a vision?  

Simply because without it, the team responsible for delivering the product will have a tough time keeping track of their progress and understanding why their work matters. A vision keeps everyone focused on the same goal.  

In this article, I will present you with the necessary steps in identifying an impactful vision for your software product. Let’s begin.  

1. Figure out what is the key benefit of your software 

  • List the most outstanding features 
    The ones that come to your mind first are the ones that stick out. Once you have the list, ask yourself, what about these features makes them so great? What will the users gain by having these features available? Write everything down in a document or sticky notes, whatever is more comfortable for you. Just make sure that you don’t lose the information.
  • Organize user interview sessions with your users 
    What are the primary features that customers use the most? There’s a great deal of information you can find out from the current customers, by just talking with them. User interviews are an ideal method to understand what are the main characteristics of the software application that users appreciate the most. 

    Besides, many other details will surface during a discussion with them. These interviews often highlight their pain points. It will give you some insights about the direction your product may follow.  

    Even if you didn’t launch the app yet on the market, the interviews can help you assess what potential users would need. Before launching a new product, you have to make sure that your target audience has an interest in it.  
  • Looking through the website metrics 
    Another method to find out what features are being used the most is to look into the product’s metrics. They show the frequency users interact with a particular functionality. It’s an easy and quick method to check what part of the app is the most popular among users.  

    However, the data takes time to pile up. If the product is new on the market, it may not be the best option as the data you collect won’t be too relevant.  

2. Determine who are your target customers 

Your purpose is to create software that is effective for everyone using it. But does everyone need it? Not really. No product will fit everyone’s needs and solve everyone’s problems. That’s why you need to know who the target market is.   

The following questions can help you figure out who you are addressing.  

  • What’s my ideal customers’ biggest problem? 
    Here you can list a set of obstacles they may have that your app can solve. You can consider the time it takes to perform an activity for example. Or how the functionality you offer simplifies an activity that users do often at their job or in their daily routine. 
  • What are my ideal target customers trying to achieve? What is the job they want to get done?  
    Knowing what obstacles they face is the first step. But you can delve deeper into the problem. Finding out what their goal is and what it is that needs to happen to consider the problem solved, is key. This is how you know who the people you are addressing to are. 
     
  • What industry are my ideal customers in?   
    Let’s say you are building CRM software. It may not be useful for a mom-and-pop store. But if we consider a marketing company that must keep track of its potential and qualified leads, a CRM will certainly help them keep its leads organized.  

3. Know how you differentiate yourself from the competition 

To understand how well your product is performing compared to other similar products on the market, you can start conducting competitive research. This is a technique that is being used to identify the strengths and the weaknesses of the product, compared to others alike. 

Reviewing competitors’ products will offer you information about what features the users are searching for and the functionality competitors haven’t addressed yet. This gives you an insight into the areas of your product where you should focus the most in order to acquire new users.  

How to start?  

  • Learn who your competitors are 
    Competition is a sign that a software product is relevant. If there is no competitor for it, it might be because there is no need in the market for such a product. So, it’s important to know who on the market offers the same services as you do.  

    A simple search for keywords that describe the functionality of the product can show you what other offerings are available in the same area. 
  • Stay informed about their activities 
    Being up to date on what your competitors do, gives you an overview of where you are positioned in terms of market needs, compared to them. Software companies use many channels to keep their users up to date with their latest news, pricing, and functionalities. And you can use these channels to learn about it.  

    -> Subscribe to their newsletters 
    Newsletters have valuable content that informs an audience about how a product can help them. You will get relevant insights about that company’s brand, pricing offerings, discounts, and new features. 

    -> Follow them on social media & check their product reviews 
    Here you can see how your competitors engage with their followers on social media and what their users say about the product.  

    -> Read their blog posts 
    An example of a blog post you can find on a CRM company’s website is “What are the benefits of using a CRM to keep data organized?”  Besides presenting the general benefits of using a CRM, they will also detail how one can get these benefits by using their product.  

    This is valuable information for someone trying to understand their competitors.   

    -> Take part in events  
    Events are a great place to find out what others in the same domain as you do. No matter if you are there as a speaker or a partner, you will get in touch with the community and many people who are interested in specific products.   
  • Test their products 
    Simply create an account on the platform you want to check out and test its features. The easiest way is to identify beforehand the key elements that you want to test and make notes only about those. It would be time-consuming to go through all the features because not all of them are key functionality.  
  • Build a comparison matrix  
    In addition to knowing more details about your competition, build a comparison matrix. This way, it’s easier to look at each element that you have found in the competitor’s product and compare it to yours. You can compare product features but also visual elements and content. Here’s an example.
Comparison matrix

4. Formulate the product vision statement 

The person in charge of the product vision statement can differ from company to company. However, in an Agile environment, the Product Manager or the Product Owner will take the lead.  

This is not a one-man job, rather you will have ideally several people involved, brainstorming around all the details gathered by following the earlier steps. 

Using all the information described in the steps above, you have enough information to create the vision statement. Let’s see an example.  

Geoffry Moore offers this simple template for creating a vision statement 

For [our target customer], who [customer’s need], the [product] is a [product category or description] that [unique benefits and selling points]

Unlike [competitors or current methods], our product [main differentiators]

If we go back to our earlier example of the CRM tool, a product vision drafted based on this template could sound like this:  

For [large companies] who [need to automate the process of managing, tracking, and storing information about potential customers, MyCRM] is a [centralized data solution that [enables their sales and marketing teams to organize and monitor their sales activities] 

Unlike [OtherCRM] our product [uses artificial intelligence to automate repetitive tasks] 

If you feel like this template doesn’t allow you to express the product vision comprehensively, here are some other examples from some of the largest companies out there:

Evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. – Uber

To connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive and successful. – Linkedin

For the MyCRM product, another way to formulate the vision statement could be: Enabling large companies to seamlessly organize and monitor their leads while letting go of repetitive administrative tasks with the help of artificial intelligence.

5. How do you communicate the product vision? 

Consider your target audience. You have found the target customers by following the points from the second step. Now that you have this information, you can start thinking about the channels you will use to make the product vision known. If you choose to make it visible to the users, some of the most common channels are newsletters, or even the about page if you have one. 

However, you should not be sharing the vision with the users only. The most important thing is for everyone in your company to be aware of it, be aligned, and follow the same goals toward the product vision.  

Conclusions

Creating a product vision is a continuous process. Think about reviewing the current vision occasionally to see if this is still the direction you want to follow, or if you should pivot.

Don’t mistake vision for strategy. You can find out more about product strategy in my next post. However, before reading about product strategy, I recommend you read my article about how to set and measure product goals.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular posts

Join the waitlist for the FREE guide on Building Effective Product Roadmaps.

    Stay Connected with Our Newsletter!

    Join ScrumDistrict's newsletter for the latest insights on Agile Practices and Product Management.

      We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.