Introduction to Product Strategy Workshops

A product strategy can help guide your company’s development decisions for years to come. Learn how it works and how workshops can help.

Introduction to Product Strategy Workshops

An Introduction to Product Strategy and Product Development Workshops

No product can succeed without a plan, but there’s a big difference between a simple plan and a comprehensive product strategy.

Your product strategy bridges the gap between the vision you have for your finished product and the actual steps your team members should take to make that vision a reality. From the moment your product enters development, a solid strategy should exist to keep it grounded and aligned with market expectations.

Putting together the perfect strategy involves working with stakeholders across your organization to get all of the details right from the start. It can also mean partnering with experts skilled in orchestrating successful development projects to ensure your plans match up with the real-world requirements you might not have foreseen. That’s precisely what makes product development workshops so powerful.

Keep reading to learn more about both product strategy and the workshops in which your own strategy can be crafted.

Defining product strategy

Your product strategy is essentially a map designed to lead your team to a successful product launch regardless of how the market may shift or individual product plans may change. It can be thought of as both a process and a tool. As a process, defining your product strategy can help you refine the many facets of your intended product. As a tool, a product strategy helps inform each decision you make regarding your product's future development, deployment, marketing, and more.

Your product strategy takes input from your initial vision, then distills it into clear details and characteristics. Objectives are included in a product strategy to pinpoint user problems the product should solve as well as business results it should achieve.

A well-defined product strategy lends itself particularly well to the goal of defining not only how your product should look, feel, and function once it’s complete, but also what constitutes a successful development outcome for your product.

Importance of product strategy

Product strategy applies to all of the products your company aims to produce. Each of your products should line up to form a part of an overarching set of goals, values, and actions that define your brand, ensuring the experience customers enjoy with any single product you offer is consistent with the rest.

Your product strategy extends far beyond the immediate needs of your next development goal. It should reach into the future of your business with long-term industry assessments and carefully considered action plans to simplify growth over time. With a product strategy, your team can rest assured that both the details and the big picture at play in the development of your products can quickly be accounted for when critical decisions need to be made.

Value of identifying risks

Risk is an ever-present facet of every essential business process. However, risks inherent to the product development process can bleed into its eventual launch, threatening its success once it reaches market.

Product development risks span four separate facets of your organization:

  1. Technological. Whether the exact tech stack you’re considering is what will be used in development is just one developmental concern that highlights a technological risk to your product’s success. Other risks could include customer onboarding and technological lock-in.
  2. Organizational. Internal conflicts arising from lack of guidance or a sudden drought in human resources can introduce significant risk to any product development process.
  3. Financial. The most common risk to a company’s finances during active development is the exhaustion of allotted capital. Going over budget can happen quickly without a clear roadmap of steps to take to avoid it.
  4. Market-based. Anything from changing needs among your target audience to a far-reaching economic downturn could represent a legitimate market risk for your product.

When you pen your product strategy, you account for each of the above types of risks ahead of time. In fact, your product development strategy serves to offset such risks as early as possible, while the application of your conceptual design remains flexible.

Check out our detailed article on handling risk management throughout the software development process to learn more.

More advantages of a product development strategy

Having a product development strategy can prove beneficial in more ways than you might think. Here are a few stand-out reasons you should strongly consider creating your own.

Provides clarity for your company

Strategic clarity helps in forecasting growth expectations, trimming performance burdens like bad hires and keeping goalposts clearly defined from project start to market entry and beyond.

Prioritizes your product roadmap

Determining what direction to take a product before development starts can help to inform future decisions, even if the product needs to be changed dramatically later on. A study on major fashion retailer ZARA’s product development strategy found that consumers were unconvinced of the brand's styles being up to date, despite acknowledging they were well made. A missed opportunity to compete with timely garment releases could have given ZARA the edge it needed to catch up with competitors sooner.

Improves tactical decisions

Your product development strategy clarifies end goals and potential obstacles—this makes adopting tactically superior positions throughout the development process more feasible.

Amazon, for instance, first identified its end goal—appealing to a specific kind of customer—before tackling actual production measures. By starting with an uncomplicated press release describing the product to be developed, Amazon was able to backtrack through the development process and sort out details later.

Keeps your team aligned and agile

A product development strategy ensures all members of your team, both present and future, will remain on the same page. Agile development tactics combined with the core differentiators discovered early on and highlighted in your product strategy can bring team members together to deliver a viable product to market more efficiently.

Improves sales through quality

Quality and sales can often end up at odds with each other when you prioritize improving price appeal above all else. However, a carefully considered product strategy can help reconcile these two factors by aligning them with the interests of your target audience.

British snack brand Walkers did just that with its “Do us a flavour” campaign, which leveraged co-creation to involve their audience in the product development process.

Reduces costs

Creating a product development strategy with the help of your chosen technology partners can create cost-cutting opportunities that make creating minimum viable products or prototypes much easier.

A study on this phenomenon as it pertained to a leading Italian food processing machine manufacturer found that the above is an effective approach to speeding up development times and improving market performance of new products.

Key components of a product development strategy

Key components of a product development strategy

Every successful product development strategy incorporates three main components for best results.

  1. Product goals. The target audience and problems that need solving play into this key part of your product development strategy.
  2. Product initiatives. With your audience's issues in focus, your next objective should be to generate solutions. This aspect of your development strategy centers on actual product functionality.
  3. Competitive analysis. Determining what sets your proposed product(s) apart from the competition is especially important. This facet of your product development strategy deals with these types of details to help differentiate your offerings on the market.

Learn more about the key components of a great product development strategy here.

Elements that make for a remarkable product

There are many unique approaches that companies have taken to generate memorable products with lasting appeal. Bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst identified three ways to make the most of your product proposition:

  1. Find your audience's felt needs.
  2. Solve your audience's core problems.
  3. Identify your product's strongest value offers.

The above points align perfectly with the product development strategy components mentioned in the previous section, but you can enhance each of these with the actions we outline below.

Find your core differentiator

Memorable products are usually unique and nearly impossible for competitors to copy. This inherent uniqueness comes from core differentiators such as the specific market segment you serve, the story behind your brand, the technologies that make your product work, or even endorsements from trusted sources.

Learn how to craft your next positioning statement in this article.

Plan for the outcome rather than the output

Designing for output alone can give your team the illusion of productivity while ignoring the most important elements that make finished products successful with users. Instead of merely keeping your development team busy, you should optimize your product strategy to satisfy real user needs and break down details that don’t deliver goal-oriented results.

Your product strategy helps frame the overall outcome of each development process, ensuring all efforts, initiatives, and product iterations remain aligned in their ultimate objectives.

Focus on what moves the needle

One essential factor in determining your products’ success at market is whether they do what they need to do to satisfy customers' needs. It’s all too easy for companies to get lost in a sea of unnecessary features, allowing them to drown out the essence of their products and cause their customers to walk away for good. However, you can avoid unimportant features with the right planning—and a product development strategy makes for a particularly detailed guide on what ought not be included.

Without prioritizing feature inclusion based on actual user needs and interests, feature creep can set in, leading to ballooning costs and a less relevant offering to take to market. An inability to say "no" can also create problems in this area, leading to feature add-ons that offer no real-world value to end-users.

Taking the time to first discover what your customers want most in your product—then delivering precisely that—ensures that you’ll satisfy them and reduces the risk of big bets not paying off. Dropping unwanted features can also quickly cut unnecessary development spend and help your product reach the market sooner.

The product lifecycle graph

Discover three powerful ways that you can find product-market fit here.

Scoping workshop: an overview

A scoping workshop is the perfect opportunity for your company to partner with a trusted provider and come with a game plan for your proposed product's development.

Scoping your product entails detailing its individual features and the technological implications of its development process. Each function your product should perform is sectioned off and assessed for its developmental requirements to help you plan out a project budget in advance. Both your immediate goals and your long-term strategy are taken into account in a scoping workshop to define expectations and plan accordingly.

Learn more about the scoping workshop in this article.

The need for a product strategy workshop

Product strategy is not optional. In today's fast-paced market environment, delivering products that put customers' needs first while adhering to budget and timing constraints cannot be accomplished by chance. A well-made product strategy can inform your business decisions at every level of your company's operations, keeping all efforts and actors aligned with overarching goals. However, developing your own product strategy is not necessarily an easy task, especially if you’ve never done so before.

A product strategy workshop gives you a chance to put together a comprehensive product strategy that describes everything from your core audience to your product's key features to the role the released version should play in furthering your business's goals. At VeryCreatives, we aim to turn our clients' ideas into viable, profitable products. Assisting in the strategizing stage makes it easier for us to inform and guide development decisions to generate the kinds of results business leaders are looking for.

VeryCreatives can help optimize your product strategy along the following lines:

  1. Syncing priorities with available resources for best results.
  2. Mapping out product design and future development to MVP and beyond.
  3. Defining technological requirements and essential team expertise for smooth development.

Using workshops to review and adapt your strategy

A product development strategy workshop can be a wonderful opportunity to explore not only your customers' needs but those of your business as well. At VeryCreatives, we help drill into these details to fully flesh out your product strategy. Experts on our team join you to brainstorm and document viable ideas, translating these into actionable plans you can execute over time.

You don’t need to be left to put together your first product development strategy on your own. We’re here to help. Reach out today to learn how we can get you from vision to MVP in no time.

If you’re looking for a launchpad for your digital product, reach out to our team here at VeryCreatives to learn how we can help.