Product Managers should be looking at the data about their product and business and meeting with their organization on a normal basis to define objectives or goals that they want to accomplish. These objectives could range from increasing revenue, reduce support dependencies, increase cross sell of a specific area or adoption of a specific feature. As a business based on a product, your product management process to define your product roadmap needs to start with a company discussion on what you are trying to accomplish as a business and then how specifically the product can help you complete this as your basis.
Once you have met with your organization to define your objectives, you need to compare them all and start to categorize them as not all objectives are equal. For example, you can define an objective to increase usage of a specific feature with a goal to reduce churn and add an objective to streamline the on boarding flow to increase conversion. While both are important metrics, you may decide as an organization that you want to focus more on converting more users as a primary driver with churn reduction as a secondary driver. Since one becomes more important than the other, you need to weigh your objectives. Additionally, you could have smaller objectives such as reduce support calls and increase the average revenue per customer by a set amount. Again, one objective will drive features which can help reduce cost of support team head count while the other is a more general objective to promote features related to increases your revenue touch points.
All product teams have limited development resources and timelines. It is not possible to do everything all at once, so an important part of product planning is to layout your strategic objectives and weights associated with them. From there, as you work your product backlog you should always associated the feature with how it will help you accomplish a specific objective and therefore it should be given a set amount of weight in prioritization. If you can manage to complete this and keep your features tied to objectives, you have a much easier time communicating why you are working on what you are working on and how features make it to the product roadmap. Creating strategic objectives to drive your product roadmap also keeps your team focused on specific goals to accomplish within shorter periods of time and motivation to see the end result of the objective. Clarity and focus are extremely important for a product manager to bring to their team and with strategic objectives driving feature prioritization, it makes it easier.
What workflow should I take to complete my strategic objectives?
1. Meet with your team including all departments of your organization to define what specific drivers do you want to focus on in the next 12 months.
2. Create a list of strategic objectives and organize them into categories to help organize the goals. You can organize them by departments, business vs product, or driver such as competitor analysis, product vision, revenue or expenses.
3. Once organized, define weights for each of your objectives. This can be a simple 1 through 10 scale where 10 is for objectives aligned with your top drivers for your business and as a product manager you all agree that any feature associated with this objective should be completed on the product roadmap. An objective score of a 1 for example, would then be a low priority feature and would be worked into the product roadmap if capacity allows.
4. After you have defined your product strategic objectives, you then need to review your product backlog and if a backlog item helps you achieve a specific objective, tag backlog item with that objective. When you are done, this will provide you a weighted backlog that has been scored based not on effort, but based on business impact so that you can then build a product roadmap to complete the most important features.
Product managers need to be able to justify what they prioritize for their product. By including the organization in the process of laying the framework for what makes the cut for your product roadmap, you avoid tough discussions later by agreeing upfront on the weights of your business goals and then you are simply managing your backlog to promote features with the highest scores.