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6-Point Checklist for Implementing Product Strategies

By Prabhakar Gopalan – Chief Revenue Officer at TeleVet

In the realm of business operations, various frameworks and paradigms exist, ranging from corporate strategy, business strategy to product strategy. Even while crafting strategies for large companies a hierarchical structure consisting of corporate strategy departments, business strategy departments, product strategy teams, and field-level execution comes into play. However, the most challenging aspect where most individuals find themselves puzzled is translating these strategic concepts into tangible actions and their practical implementation. In this particular blog, Prabhakar Gopalan, CRO/COO at VC & PE backed B2B SaaS growth companies, PG Consulting approaches the strategy implementation process from the lens of a product manager to provide us with insights on how to bridge the gap between strategy paradigms and practical applications.

Key Takeaways:

  • Strategic frameworks like the BCG Growth-Share Matrix, SWOT Analysis, and Five Forces Analysis provide valuable tools for analyzing challenges and formulating effective strategies.
  • Bridging the gap between strategic concepts and practical implementation is a common challenge for organizations.
  • The six practical methods for effective strategy application include: defining objectives and KPIs, describing the plan, allocating resources, executing the plan, measuring KPIs (throughput, cycle time, and WIP), and reporting feedback and adjusting strategy.
  • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework can help set clear, measurable, and aligned objectives.
  • Breaking down tasks and analyzing resource allocation can provide insights into stability, customer focus, and alignment with business objectives.
In this article
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    What Are the Different Types of Strategic Frameworks?

    Strategic frameworks serve as valuable tools for businesses, providing structure and guidance as they pursue their missions and navigate growth. These frameworks aid in analyzing business challenges and formulating effective strategies.

    There are a plethora of straightforward strategic frameworks existing in decision-making and analysis, the three we would like to discuss are: 

    1. The BCG Growth-Share Matrix: It is developed by the Boston Consulting Group in the 1960s and 70s, which aids companies in evaluating their product portfolios to determine which products warrant continued investment, divestment, or strategic focus. 

    2. SWOT Analysis: It stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This simple yet effective strategy analysis tool helps organizations identify their internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats, helping them determine the most suitable course of action and develop competitive strategies to thrive in their respective markets. 

    3. Five Forces Analysis: This influential framework was devised by Michael Porter. It evaluates the competitive dynamics and attractiveness of an industry by analyzing the bargaining power of suppliers and buyers, the threat of new entrants, substitute products or services, and the intensity of competitive rivalry.

    Organizations find not only understanding these strategic frameworks challenging but also applying them consistently on a day-to-day basis. Though many organizations have well-established frameworks for strategy sessions to determine what needs to be done, they often lack a systematic approach to the crucial “how” aspect of strategy implementation. In order to solve the problem, Prabhakar guides product managers to adopt a practical framework or toolset for understanding how their organization functions and to identify effective strategies for improvement.

    6-Point Checklist for Implementing Product Strategies

    The steps you would take to implement strategies in your day-to-day business operations include:

    1. Defining the Objectives and KPIs 

    Successful strategy execution becomes nearly impossible for an organization lacking clear objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). However prior to formulating any significant objective, it is crucial to consider certain factors, such as the objective’s context, time frame, dependencies (both internal and external), comprehensible, and whether it is aspirational or operational in nature. One more challenging aspect is the misalignment of the objective with the company’s growth goals, particularly with sales. Furthermore, the objectives should reflect the primary purpose of any business which is to serve its customers. 

    If these elements are not addressed it will lead to poorly defined objectives and KPIs often resulting in subpar outcomes, affecting the overall effectiveness of the organization. These challenges can be addressed by adopting the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework, which provides a structured approach to setting objectives, making them specific, measurable, and aligned with business goals. 

    For example, 

    Launching an Acme widget in Q2 with a target of 300 daily active users represents a clear objective and corresponding KPI that contribute to the business goal. On the other hand, simply launching an Acme widget in Q2 without any target number of daily active users represents an unclear objective. 

    2. Describing the Plan

    The next challenge that most organizations face in effectively managing and prioritizing resources in product development is identifying the plan. In order to do that it is crucial to break down the tasks into manageable chunks, including bug fixes, sales, customer satisfaction, and other aspects, and allocate resources accordingly with a proper understanding of the distribution of time and effort across different work streams. Further analyzing where the majority of investment goes can provide indications of the product’s stability and potential issues. If a significant amount of time is dedicated to bug fixes, it suggests that there might be poor requirements or product development practices leading to frequent issues. On the other hand, if most resources are allocated to sales, it implies that the organization is primarily focused on current business and might struggle to meet the needs of customers who are already using the product. This process can also help us gain valuable insights into the product’s stability, quality, customer focus, and alignment with business objectives. 

    6-Point Checklist for Implementing Product Strategies

    3. Allocating the Resources

    The third crucial step in effective resource management is identifying and allocating the necessary resources. Though you might have an impressive product roadmap and a vision for what should be accomplished within specific timeframes, it is essential to consider whether you have the right resources, sufficient bandwidth, competent leadership, and a supportive organizational culture to execute the plan successfully. A product manager must be able to understand these resource requirements, whether the organizational environment supports the product’s goals, and whether the available resources are sufficient to meet the desired outcomes. 

    For example:

    Do we have the right leadership?

    Do we have the right culture in the organization?

    Is there adequate staffing in each role?

    The product manager’s role is not only limited to identifying the gaps but then effectively communicating them upstream, downstream, and across the organization. It is not limited to just identifying the resources needed but also navigating the internal politics of the organization. You should possess the ability to influence others, including the key stakeholders and leaders within the organization to align their support and resources toward the identified areas of focus.

    4. Executing the Plan

    Once you have established the objectives, created a plan, and identified the resources, the next step is executing that plan. It is important to align the steps in your product roadmap with the successful delivery of the features. This entails determining whether the features will be released as a minimum viable product (MVP), feature complete, or as a whole product. Additionally, it is crucial to consider how customers will use these features. In strategy implementation, one common failure point is when organizations solely focus on the MVP without planning for what comes next. Hypothesis testing becomes crucial when considering the various directions a product roadmap can take. By incorporating multiple potential paths, product managers can add immense value to the organization, enable better decision-making, and facilitate long-term success.

    5. Measuring KPIs

    Key performance indicators (KPIs) are fundamental to assessing organizational performance. The 3 major fundamental KPIs for product organization we would like to discuss include: 

    a. Throughput: It is one of the essential metrics which measures the number of items delivered within a specific time period. Throughput directly reflects whether an organization is productive or not. 

    b. Cycle Time: This next KPI is the inverse of throughput, which measures the time it takes for an item to move from one column to another on a Kanban board or within a process. It indicates the speed at which work is processed and reflects the organization’s sense of urgency and ability to deploy quickly. 

    c. Work in progress (WIP): It is another important metric that reveals the amount of work that is currently being processed or awaiting completion. In a high-throughput environment, the WIP is expected to shrink at a steady state. 

    The relationship between WIP, throughput, and cycle time are interconnected, and understanding these metrics helps assess the efficiency and effectiveness of development teams.

    6. Reporting Feedback and Adjusting Strategy

    Engaging with, listening to your customer, and understanding how customers use and interact with your product or features are immensely important to effectively adjust and refine your strategy. When you release a new product or feature, it’s crucial to have a hypothesis about its expected impact and usage. You should have clear expectations for success, by gathering customer insights from the start about whether the features built have real customer input, you can avoid wastage and ensure valuable development efforts. This issue can be addressed when the product managers and engineers question the origin of tasks on the development board, like how many of those tasks have actually come from direct conversations with customers and addressing their genuine needs. Actively monitoring and adjusting the strategy based on customer insights, market dynamics, and competitor actions would help you deploy a successful strategy.

    About the Author

    Prabhakar Gopalan – Chief Revenue Officer at TeleVet

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