What is Product Planning?
Product Planning is researching, making decisions, and taking action to develop a successful product. Consequently, the result is a clear product plan that outlines things like strategic themes, feature priorities, pricing, deliverable timelines, revenue targets, and other key performance indicators that support business goals.
The importance of product planning
Product planning is woven into everything product managers do. Moreover, It’s tempting to think of it as a one-time activity, but product planning is an ongoing process. Product management teams will have their cadence and frameworks for planning, but typically it consists of some version of annual combined with quarterly planning. Furthermore, whatever the workflow is, it’s important to remember that product plans will change and evolve as new opportunities arise, and new insights are gathered.
Product planning is the foundation of efficient and successful product development. Key benefits of strategic product planning include:
- Getting to market quicker and cheaper: Effective planning prevents mistakes and misalignment, saving you from wasting time and resources on correcting those mistakes or pivoting direction.
- Improving chances of product success: Product planning aims to identify and avoid pitfalls and take advantage of market opportunities. Moreover, this preparation and strategic thinking helps ensure the resulting product brings value to your customers and your business.
- Establishing your credibility and leadership: Product planning is a team effort that involves several stakeholders across the organizations, including executives, sales, marketing, customer success, and of course, product development. Furthermore, heading up the process demonstrates your ability to think and plan strategically, effectively communicate across the organizations, coordinate and motivate a team, manage many moving parts, and deliver value-driving results.
The Various Phases
As outlined in The Guiding Principles of the Product Planning Process, here are the seven phases of the product planning process.
- Product Concept DevelopmentThis is the first exercise to go through with your team in which you’ll examine what you know about your key personas. You’ll answer questions like: What things frustrate our persona regularly? What challenges does our persona face in completing desired tasks?
- Competitive Analysis
By this stage, you have a product concept. It’s time to examine the competitive landscape and find out if other companies already have similar solutions or if your target customers use different products to solve their problems.
- Market Research
If there is an untapped market for your product concept, it’s time to conduct market research.
- Minimum Viable Product Development
Use the insights you gathered about your target customers and the competitive landscape to determine what features in a bare-bones product would create the most significant impact for your customers.
- Product Launch
Once you’ve released your MVP, you can compile data to judge your early product’s strengths and weaknesses. You’ll measure app downloads, website visits, time spent on products, etc.
- Product Lifecycle Maintenance
At this stage, you’ll have gathered valuable feedback to help you improve and build a full-featured product.
- Product Sunsetting
Finally, at this stage, you’ll sunset your product to focus your energy and resources on something new. This presents a better value to the business and your customers.
Tips for Effective Planning
Good product planning can take many forms, but it often has a few things in common.
Here are some tips for effective planning:
- Create a culture that embraces planning as an ongoing process.
- Make frequent communication and updates the standard.
- Summarize research with key takeaways – no data dumping.
- Include planning ceremonies to ensure everyone on the team is aligned and can provide feedback.
- Set realistic timelines.
- Use the right tools. This may include roadmapping tools like ProductPlan to facilitate communication and alignment.