Define your product with this simple exercise

July 11, 2013 Aaron Severs

Product-with-Impact-SquareWhether you’re a lean startup or a mature business, having a clearly articulated product vision, which includes your target customer, problem / solution, and why you’re different, is key to success.

Here’s a framework I often use when working with clients to develop a product vision. It’s designed to be a 1-hour exercise you can use with your team, so try it out, print it out, and use it to frame your more detailed conversations.

Try answering these questions with your product team
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1. Who are your target users/customers?
Example: Developers and managers on software teams

2. What are the substantial pain points you are trying to solve?
Example: Developers often don’t know what to work on next. Managers don’t know what’s being worked on or how long these things will take. Many project management tools are cumbersome, hard to learn, and take time to configure.

3. What is your solution (one sentence or soundbite)?
Example: Pivotal Tracker is an easy to use agile project management tool.

4. What are the most important benefits you are delivering (vital few)?
Example: Easy, transparent project management; Clear insights into what’s being worked on and what’s next; Real-time collaboration; A reliable software development metric that matters (velocity)

5. What are the main alternatives or competitors?
Example: There are many other online solutions. Other solutions people use today include physical Kanban / project status boards and Excel spreadsheets.

6. Why is your solution better than alternatives?
Example: Simple, great UI; Real-time updates / no need to refresh; Current status and backlog is fast and easy to update; Iterations are planned automatically; Team velocity is tracked automatically and accurately; Automatic, accurate forecasting

Now, put it all together:

For , who need , our product provides . Our product is better than other solutions such as and because .

In my next post, we’ll address the next phase – choosing success metrics, and using them to validate your product/market fit.

About the Author


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