What is a Product Vision?
The product vision serves as a compass – focusing the team and ensuring they never deviate from delivering a best in class product that will delight the end user. It’s a mechanism for ensuring your team understand the users they are building for, why they are building the product, the value they are delivering – without your team the product will never go from vision to a tangible and releasable thing.
How do I create a product vision?
There’s a number of different ways a product vision may manifest itself. Some product managers create comprehensive product vision boards while others prefer to create an ‘elevator pitch’ style synopsis – the key thing is that it’s understood by the team and that it’s visible to all members of the product team.
The former tends to be better when you’re building a product from scratch or if you’re required to deal with multiple stakeholders typical of a large corporate environment i.e. marketing managers or legal and compliance functions or if you need to pitch the product to venture capitalists and the like. The latter I tend to find useful if you’re refining a well understood product that addresses the needs of a quite unchanging and specific end user.
There is no right way, all teams have different preferences, I myself prefer to keep things lightweight and my product vision right now is nothing more than a 3 sentence summarization of what I want to achieve – I work within the agile scrum framework and like to keep things as lightweight as possible. I tend to describe the user needs as part of the outcomes I’m trying to achieve and the features as epics in my agile software management tool of choice.
Examples of Product Visions
So let’s take a look at two examples of product visions – one uses a product vision board and the other is a lightweight elevator pitch. Perhaps the most used and my personal favorite example of a product vision board can be downloaded form Roman Pilcher’s website: http://www.romanpichler.com/tools/vision-board/.
The board is essentially split into 5 sections; the product statement, the target group, the users needs, the product description and the value that will be delivered by the product. We will focus on the product statement a little later in the article but first let’s breakdown the other four key components of Roman’s product vision board:
- Target Group: Who are the users or the market segment whose needs you are trying to solve for? Who are the persona’s you’ve identified as potential users of your product?
- Needs: What problem are you trying to alleviate for these users? What benefits are you providing to these users?
- Product: What is the product? What is it’s unique selling point or what make’s it special? What are some of the features that make up the product?
- Value: What outcomes are you driving? What benefits will this deliver for your company or investor?
There’s also an extend product vision board that you can also download from Roman Pilchers website: http://www.romanpichler.com/ but the idea is that it’s a one stop shop for anybody who wants to get an overview of your product and know what it’s all about.
The second approach is to simply create a product statement in the form of an elevator pitch, something that you can communicate to an investor or your CEO in the time it takes to ride an elevator, for instance:
“We want to create a best in class mobile app that provides students the ability to consolidate all of their revision notes into an self organizing, ‘smart searchable’ and user friendly space so that they can spend more time focused on revising and less time on organizing. We hope by delivering this product that we increase the engagement of our current users, leapfrog our competition and generate another means of revenue.”
Note how the elevator pitch essentially summarizes the five different components of the product vision board in a succinct and easy to communicate way?
Regardless of your approach – your product vision should be a living artifact that changes as your focus, users and users needs shift. It should be something that’s understood by the team and that serves as a focusing mechanism to create an overarching goal that everybody must share in order to be successful. What is your way of defining and communicating your product vision?