September 03, 2019

3 Key Elements of Product Strategy

As much as product management is about getting things done, there is a mindset shift taking place toward empowering product managers to think more strategically. Product managers drive the conversation about disrupting standard business practices, working toward improving the past, preparing for the present, and building for the future. In this blog, I discuss the three key elements of product strategy for capital markets and other complex organizations.

Tactical product managers can sometimes have a very machine-like approach to their job. They churn out products, one after another, adhering to the same process. So, what’s wrong with that?

While there are benefits to a tactical approach, long-term success requires a more strategic mindset. These types of product managers are always asking questions like “what should we be doing differently, how do we make that happen, how does this fit in with the company’s strategic goals and where is the market going?”

1. Sell the Vision of the Product

The first key element of product strategy involves communication. Product managers have to be stellar communicators. It must be their absolute base skill.

We need to vividly define and articulate clearly what needs to be completed and why it is essential. The product manager role now is a set facilitator that requires an understanding of the problem and the ability to communicate it. There is an element of sales in almost all facets of the job.

Pressure comes from all directions. You will always have clients asking for extra customizations, or even questioning your decisions. Your sales team will vie for add-ons or additional functionality with the belief that it will create more opportunities.

Every product manager knows that all requests must be dealt with in a timely, yet constructive manner. With customer and internal demands always being funneled toward you, it is imperative to set expectations and provide a vision for your product suite. If stakeholders buy into your idea, they will forget about the incremental things that comprise the project, recognizing that the product management team can execute on this vision by creating a better solution.

2. Achieve Broader Thinking

Product managers have to start thinking more organizationally and less within their own environment. The thought process should be about how your work affects all departments. Presently in financial services, even the biggest banks in the world are taking a more comprehensive look at the user experience.

Technology is the always-changing chameleon in the capital markets and banking landscape. It is always taking on new shapes and designs. Some firms may target a monolithic, broad application that does a little bit of everything, while others may choose to be far more bespoke and specialized.

Therefore, product modularity is the most significant factor. The thinking has to turn to how a product can plug and play with not only unrealized applications within the market but internally within your product suite.

3. Establish a Product Strategy Roadmap

The third key element of product strategy is creating a roadmap. Product managers can build roadmaps by taking input from various areas; oftentimes drawing from customers, their sales’ team and other internal sources.

A key to establishing an effective product strategy roadmap is defining a clear umbrella. The leaders of the organization need to clearly outline and communicate what the strategic vision is for the next 3-5 years. Then, they need to articulate that “this is who we want to be as an organization and this is where we want to go.”

Everyone plays a part in designing and building the roadmap, but a product manager is a true catalyst. To me, they are the ones responsible for gathering the input, synthesizing it, understanding how that fits with the company vision and strategy, and then creating a roadmap that fits under that umbrella. For product managers, it is more of a game of chess than checkers, with the implementation of the effective key elements of product strategy being vital.

Manish recently sat down with Product Love Podcast on many of the topics discussed above. He shares insights on more product management best practices and what he’s learned over his career. Listen to the webinar here.


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