5 Reasons your Product needs a Vision
Product vision comes from the raison d’etre — “the reason for being” — the most important reason for the product’s existence.
It describes the direction where all the product efforts should go at the current product stage of the product.
That’s been said, the product vision is not set in stone. It can and should change as the product develops and goes through stages of the product cycle.
A clear product vision follows the organization’s strategy and provides many crucial advantages for the process of product planning and execution.
Why does your Product needs the Product Vision?
The Product Vision statement shows direction, aka sets the “true north” for the product.
In other words — that’s the cornerstone of your product strategy. Product vision is the ultimate evaluator for product decisions and backlog items’ prioritization.
All improvements and tasks for building the product should be aligned with the vision.
Here are the five essential reasons why Product Vision is a crucial part of any product development planning and execution:
Reason 1: Product vision sets the current focus of the product.
As the product life cycle goes through many stages, so the vision should be defined to hit each of the following milestones. Thus the vision should be very focused on the current product phase.
It can not be too general, so it does not nail the current need for the product.
It also means, it should be reviewed and updated regularly.
Yes, the product vision statement is not set in stone. It’s a living document. It’s a moving target.
How often do you need to change it? Often it comes naturally when needs of the product go out of the vision.
For example, if it makes absolute sense to implement a new feature in the product to follow the company’s strategy and it speaks against the product vision, that’s a clear sign that the vision needs for an update.
Therefore, it also means, that the vision is always at some development stage. It is not static. It’s a living document and should be reviewed regularly and be synced with the overarching organization goals and strategies.
Reason 2: Product Vision is a resource saver
A good and properly defined Product Vision can save lot of resources in the organization.
With a clear vision, many product decisions do not require leadership involvement or stakeholders’ meetings. If the new feature is in align with the vision, it should be the green light to go ahead.
If the product vision is well crafted, that’s a key tool for the whole product team — product owners, developers and everyone who is involved in the product development on day to day basis.
It is easy to make the right product decisions if the vision is clear.
Reason 3: Product vision is the ultimate prioritizer
It can be a challenge deciding which product features are the most important. Discussions on what should be developed first can raise serious dilemmas and arguments.
Luckily there are many methods and frameworks to create a structure for making the right decision. As I gave a quick intro in this article you can choose and use methods like MoSCoW, RICE, Kano or any other model that works for your organization.
However using these methods you should always keep the Product Vision in front of you.
Ordering the product backlog and assigning priorities, the Product Vision is the highest point of reference. All product backlog items and their listing order should represent the message of the Product Vision.
Reason 4: Following the Product Vision you avoid the cliché product traps
Like this one:
“Too many features” trap
No matter how “cool” or demanded some new feature request is, you should check it against the product vision. Users will always want more, but a clear and solid vision will avoid the trap, which can result in a real product failure. Read more about it in the SPP blog here: or just watch this hilarious video:
Also there is the
“Edge case” trap
The other trap you can find yourself without following the vision is the “edge case trap”. Trying to make the product working perfectly for everyone can seriously affect your release dates.
Unless your vision is to please everyone on the planet (and it is not realistic), there will always be some edge cases with potential to break the product experience. But that’s ok.
Following the vision, product manager/owner should always have a sense when enough is enough.
“Perfect is the enemy of good” — as Voltaire said it best. Trying to make the product perfect you will never finish it. And your users will never see it.
Also, if you’re familiar with the lean startup mindset, then general George S. Patton put it in this way — “A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
Too many features and edge case traps — these both can ruin your product and drain resources and time quickly.
Reason 5: Product Vision motivates the team
Product Vision also works as a connection for the team. It connects the blue clouds of the future with day-to-day tasks which are rather technical than inspirational. A good vision allows to see the big picture and engage all the team into excitement building the product.
“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you,” ~ Steve Jobs.
How to create the Product Vision?
One way how to look at the product vision is make it like the elevator pitch. The statement which is short and clear enough so you can explain it to someone within two minutes.
The traditional template comes from Geoffrey Moore’s book Crossing the Chasm:
It follows the form:
- For (target customer)
- Who (statement of the need or opportunity)
- The (product name) is a (product category)
- That (key benefit, compelling reason to buy)
- Unlike (primary competitive alternative)
- Our product (statement of primary differentiation)
Thus defining all the variables you can make the first draft of the vision pretty quickly.
No matter which template you’re using to craft your vision, these are the key things to clarify all the time:
- Who the target customer is.
- What needs the product will address (is it gain creator or pain reliever — as Isaac Jeffries describes it here)
- Value proposition they can not resist (what makes it unique to competition).
Product Vision is an essential ingredient of healthy product development planning and execution process.
Without it product managers and teams can easy loose direction finding themselves in the middle of nowhere. Vision is the product’s “true north” and statement of direction.
With a commonly shared Product Vision, the product team is on the same page and results can be accomplished saving time and resources. With a proper product vision in place the product will be released on time and with the right features.
What is your take on Product Vision? Leave it in the comments!