Helpful tools for defining the Product Strategy

“It is  inspiring that product managers for toothbrushes, airplanes, and software have so much in common!

  • We need to understand our place in the growing software ecosystem jungle. Fast. Working as a software product manager I find myself asking:
  • What product changes are most strategic among the myriads of great ideas and requests that come my way?
  • What problems does my product really solve?
  • How do I communicate product value that matches customer problems?
  • Is the customer’s perceived value of the product what I think it is?
  • How can I align my product strategy with the company’s strategy?

OK, I still don’t have all the answers, but I have some great ideas and tools to go after them. The  ISPMA Product Strategy training program provided by Tolpagorni was an eye opener into a world of tools and processes for strategic product management. The exercises it showed me how to use them and the team backed it with great experience. Here’s a few things I found worth sharing:

  1. Segmentation vs Segmentation

    At a first glance it seems obvious how to segment your market, doesn’t it? You know exactly who you are selling to and in what segments they operate. You might segment by geographic location or by industry, or by solution space. But when you think about it, segmentation can be done in as many ways as there are users on the planet! The trick is to find common patterns among those users. Users in different parts of the world and industries might have similar needs and problems, and you can address them as a new segment.

  2. Business Model Creativity

    Ehhh, what business model do I have? Is it the best business model? Maybe the business model is only being used of old habit and because your customers tell you they will not buy in any other way? Is it sustainable in the long run? One of the key takeaways for me during the training was a tool called the business model canvas. It allows you to easily understand and map your current business model. Then change variables in it to see what happens in other areas of your business. It is a great tool for discussing future direction of the products business and it allows you to be creative and discuss several different scenarios in a short time.

  3. What’s your Value Proposition – really?

    The center piece in the business model canvas is a field called Value Proposition. We usually know what values we provide, but can they be expressed in different ways to better match the values our customers perceive or get? Do we have hidden values in our delivery that are key for our customers? Tolpagorni trainers shared ideas and a tool called Value Tree. The Value Tree provides processes for thinking differently when building up value propositions. It also provides tools for building a communication platform to get the right values to the right audiences, technical vs. business values for example.

     Watch The Value Tree video

  4. Building Insights

    It might be hard to admit, but for most of us human product managers there are things we don’t know about our markets, competitors, users and their problems. The trick is how to build up enough information around the products to gain insights. Insights that will allow better positioning of the products. Insights for creating the right product at the right time. Insights for selecting the right sales channels for the right market. To partner with the most strategic players in the ecosystem. To understand what key resources we have and need - Insights.

The participants in the training class were all experienced managers. They had different titels llike product manager, portfolio manager to product team manager and executive. I should probably not speak for others, but my impression was that all participants brought something useful with them back home from the four days - in the form of tools, processes, ideas, insights and plenty of laughs. I strongly recomend this training! 

 Create Executable Product Strategies

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About Kent Zetterberg - Guest Blogger

Kent Zetterberg is a business minded agile software product manager and team leader. An analytical and positive problem solver with eminent people and cultural skills and extensive international experience.

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