Why The Product Vision is Key to Successful Product Development


By Erlend

March 25th, 2012

1 Comment

Most successful products starts with a clear Vision. At Fabric, when we first start working with a new client, the product vision is clear; but, sometimes,  it is not.  When it is not clear, we go through a Product Vision Development Process as one of the first steps in our Product Development journey. The outcome of this exercise is the development of the Product Vision Statement.

The Components of the Product Vision Statement

The vision statement documents three things: what the project should accomplish, why it is valuable, and the project’s success criteria.

Business Model components

At Fabric, we often put less emphasis on the business model components when we work with startups on product vision, but I thought it would be useful to include here for context.  The business model is the story of how the product will benefit the stakeholders.  It should answer the following questions:

  • How it will be economically built and supported? (development, manufacturing, support)
  • How it will be profitable: how it can be built economically, generate revenue, and optimally priced?
  • How will it generate income and turn a profit (revenue and profit model)
  • How users will find out about it and obtain it?  (sales, marketing and distribution)

Product Concept Components

To develop a solid vision statement, you have to answer these questions:

  1. Who is going to buy the product? Who is the target customer?
  2. Which customer needs will the product address?
  3. Which product attributes are critical to satisfy the needs selected, and therefore for the success of the product?
  4. How does the product compare against existing products, both from competitors and the same company? What are the product’s unique selling points?
  5. What is the target timeframe and budget to develop and launch the product?

(Credit: Roman Pichler)

So, the simplified framework for our product vision statement exercise is:

  • 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)

(Credit: Geoffrey Moore’s book Crossing the Chasm.)

The vision should be clear enough so that we can “see” the product. Specifically customers needs and critical attributes should be clear and easy to understand. Naturally, the core product value proposition should be the center of gravity and this should remain stable throughout the product development cycle. Meanwhile, the vision should be broad in it’s goal to engage and foster buy-in while allowing a wide range of creativity. (This is, perhaps, the hardest part to execute).

Example of Product Vision Statement

When we work with clients on the Product Vision Statement, we may spend several sessions – or micro-sprints – to build a clear statement. Our goal is to deliver a statement similar to this product vision statement for Mozillas Firefox. But how do you know if you have a good statement? Yes, that’s right, you have to validate it.

How to validate your Statement

The most common, and in our opinion the best, way to validate the Product Vision Statement is the Elevator Pitch. Entrepreneurs are quite familiar with the elevator pitch: “Can you explain and sell your idea, product, and vision in 20-30 seconds?” Naturally, you’ll also want every stakeholder, team member, and a sample of your target audience to validate your statement as well. This is, also, why it helps to keep it short and simple.

That’s it for now. Next time, we’ll look at how the Product Vision Statement relates to the Product Roadmap and specifically the development of the Minimal Viable Product (MVP); all of which is core to our development methodology at Fabric.

  • Arun

    Bigger companies, product vision is a part of business vision, which is derived from studying the existing product portfolio(tool such as ge matrix), market opportunities

    Vision informs where we want to go and strategy informs how we reach there

    This blog looks like explaining market requirements