The Product Manager's guide to remote working pt 3 - Efficiently review your product strategy & recover in uncertain times
by Leica Ison
Seven things you should know about resetting product strategy to adapt in uncertain times
As product leaders navigate our new reality we set out how to efficiently review a product strategy with your virtual team and adapt, here is part 3 of our 3-part series guide – The Product Managers guide to remote working: Seven things you should know about resetting product strategy in uncertain times.
Our version of small solves in under 10 mins. Read the 7 things you should know about product strategy and virtual team alignment here!
1. Successful product strategy
A successful strategy comes from a sound review of your product across four domains of product health – market/revenue, value, customer, innovation and regulatory compliance. After setting a strategy, it is important to execute and continuously review. Best practice monitoring of your product strategy covers both lead and lag key performance indicators of product health. And finally, tightly managing products in our more difficult economic times is just as important as setting the vision and objectives. So allocate time to build a remote product team and culture with digital tools and in your year ahead to monitor and review with your product strategy with your agile virtual team.
2. Why is product strategy important?
All product leaders face uncertainty and external challenges that will impact on delivering growth and value for the organisation. This pace of change is accelerating, markets and supply chains becoming more global, emerging technologies disrupt industry structures, and customers expectations and behaviours are making shifts. Product level strategy focuses on how you can deliver value to your customer, growth to your organisational and cost-effectively do this. Disruptive changes or uncertain times can mean product value disappears very quickly, and product strategy will help you respond and adapt before its too late.
3. What is the role of a product manager in strategy?
The product owner should set the strategy, communicate it across the organisation and keep everyone updated on adjustments in complex and uncertain times. If you are new to product management or your organisation doesn't have product lifecycle teams, start by preparing a list of team-mates to invite to your virtual team. The product manager is also accountable for the set-up of a virtual team and leads this cross-functional to monitor and improve product health in difficult economic times.
4. Where should you start?
Remote work and uncertainty creates a bigger need to review and adapt your product strategy. The time horizons of setting product strategy have changed from annual or bi-annual process to a new normal of continuous monitoring of the product strategy, reviewing the drivers of product health with a virtual team. Start this journey with some notes on the direction you want to go with your product and an assessment of your external environment and drivers.
- Start with a clear idea of the purpose of your product strategy, objectives and do this at different time horizons. Have a 3-5-year view and then anchor that back to a short term view of seven quarters to growth.
- Review the Industry external and competitive forces of change – emerging disruptive forces, technology trends and industry structure.
- Implement a SWOT analysis – strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats.
- Pipeline any emerging regulatory changes on the horizon that may impact on your product design or distribution.
- Understand your value proposition – what is it that you do to solve a customer problem and is better or unique to your competitors.
5. Set a product strategy plan, continuously monitor and adapt
Don't underestimate the discipline required to monitor and adapt your product strategy. It helps to recognise that product strategy and planning is a disciplined approach and ideally occurs in monthly actions and 90-day plans – a continuous auditing process with alignment and collaboration. Host your virtual product team to do deep dives into the health of the product and undertake self-assessment of critical drivers of the product value. It also helps to have the timetable set-up for the year ahead.
- Start by recapping on your product strategy and pricing construct and product advantage
- Review changes in your market, competitors, cost structures, innovation plans, customer experience and regulatory compliance
- What trends are impacting on the strategy and budgets
- Where are you at compared to the outcomes you set, what are the risks and alternatives
- Set action plans – strategic and risk with your virtual team
6. Who should you involve?
Virtual collaboration requires the active involvement of other teams – marketing, sales, customer success, usability, risk, legal and finance - to understand the strategy, implementation timelines and contribute to improvement when you need to adapt. Having both a long term and short term view will help you have clear direction and help you course-correct with your virtual team. Setting short-term actions and monitoring these with your cross-functional team leads to effective alignment, new ideas and a path forward for the product. Try to invest in outlining who needs to be involved and their roles. Remote work requires you to be active and engaged around the roles of product owner, contributor, reviewer or product leader. Additionally establish a list of function roles and use digital tools like Skyjed, Slack and Jira to connect with your virtual team in real-time Skyjed has the feature to create a virtual team and a product strategy supporting the decision-making on your lifecycle across your virtual team.
7. How to proactively work with your virtual team
We know that working from home can be challenging for product leaders and their cross-functional teams. Tools like Skyjed can help in this challenging time where you can create a virtual team around your product in minutes. And you can host the virtual team with the right members as your product moves through the growth phases. If you are looking for product-market-fit customer experience and sales will be valuable in your feedback loop. If you have a mature product and your strategy seeks to improve cost-effectiveness and product margins having operational teams and finance is an excellent place to start. We recommend keeping the team nimble and agile in a virtual workspace of around 6-8 teams members with real-time monitoring of product strategy and improvement actions.
Things to watch out for and some tips:
These preparations that you can execute today are important for the product owner and good product strategy:
- Benefits of monitoring risk. Start by understanding the risks and reviewing them monthly with your virtual team.
- Be disciplined with 90-day review rhythm and product health-checks to understand the current state of play and prioritize the best initiatives to keep your product moving forward
- High chance of success if you challenge assumptions and drivers of product health – not just the numbers in the forecasts or product budget.
- Creating a virtual team is important to solve challenges in real-time and align on priorities.
We are seeing encouraging examples of how agile product teams are 'nailing-it' using Skyjed for their lifecycle decisions and virtual collaboration
Skyjed will help you get organised, free up time and make confident decisions with your virtual team. Skyjed helps you build your virtual team in minutes across the globe and then collaborate to improve the health of your product on an ongoing basis.
Check out our more detailed guide on solving product strategy adjustment and virtual team alignment. How to re-evaluate product strategy and forecast the COVID effect as you respond and adapt.
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