A product built by any company has a product vision associated with it – describes why the product exists, and what purpose it serves. The product vision is an abstract statement that offers a picture of the product and how it would look within the development. It also explains why the product matters and how it would offer solutions to the problems faced by the customer. However, the product vision is an intangible statement and only provides a direction of what has to be achieved by the Agile team of the company. The product vision helps build a foundation for the product as Developers can easily estimate the productive initiatives based on the product vision. But as the team starts building increments on the product, the product vision cannot be used as a reliable way to accomplish the needs of the product. The Agile team and the company require few tangible ways to measure success and need to know whether the product is showing any progress. A proper metric of how much percent of profit has been gained, and how much improvement the product has shown is also important to measure the success of the product. The team needs a goal that it has to achieve which is measurable and tangible. In this article, we discuss what exactly a Product Goal is and how can the Agile team achieve it.
What is a Product Goal?
A Product Goal is a tangible task that represents the accomplishment of the product vision. The Product Goal is a measurable aspect of the vision of how the abstract statement is turned into a reality. A Product Goal is a stepping stone to enhance the growth of the company and should be achievable, understandable, and actionable. This goal also has a specific time frame which is usually lined up with the financial planning cycles. Whenever a product is planned, the business has a strategic vision of what the product would achieve. Goals make these strategies a reality by creating a metric and measuring the success of the team in developing the product. If a company is a single product or service-based company, then the Product Goals and the goals of the company would be similar. However, if the company has multiple products and services, the company’s vision would be different and larger than the product vision.
Elements of Product Goals
Product Goals should be attainable and achievable. Here are few elements that would help you design a great Product Goal:
- Product Goals have to be written down such that they are transparent and everyone can see them. It should not be a statement that is just verbally passed on to the team members.
- Product Goals should connect to the product vision and act as a stepping stone that would achieve the vision.
- Goals should be formed based on the trends present in the market and not just by a mere assumption of what is a priority in the Product Backlog.
- Goals should always be achievable; If Product Goals are stretched, it would not motivate the team to complete them as they have already established that the goal could not be completed.
- Product Goals should be measurable; Use EBM, HEART, or Pirate metrics to measure the goals.
- Focus on a single goal at a time and communicate what problems could be solved instead of how much work has to be done to complete the Product Goal.
How to create a Product Goal?
A Product Goal could be created in any manner that the Agile team wants as there is no hard and fast rule to follow while creating a goal. However, you have to make sure that you are not creating another product vision and the goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound). Here are a few steps that you can follow while making a Product Goal:
- Get together with the team, discuss and list the Product Goals by using the collective knowledge of the team.
- Before beginning to form the Product Goals, make the product vision evident and make sure everyone understands the vision. It is important to make sure that everyone is on the same page before giving ideas about the Product Goal.
- Use the following guidance to form the Product Goals. It does not have to be an exact copy, but you can make an outside structure in the view of the goal setting.
- Persona- Who is the product being built for?
- Mission- Why do we want to build the product?
- Problem- What problem does the product aim to solve?
- Evidence- What evidence do we have that the product would work?
- Hypothesis- What are the assumptions that we are making here?
- Metrics- How will we measure the progress of the product and also how the persona changes their behavior to the product?
Generally, Product Goals should be set quarterly along with the business reviews. The goals can be short term or long term but one has to make sure that it aligns with the product vision and can be achieved by the Agile team within a specified time.
Examples of Product Goal
Suppose a fitness app is built and they have to design a Product Goal.
Product Goal 1: High-rated fitness app within 6 months
Metric: Rated #1 on Android and iOS marketplaces.
Goal 2: After 6 months the revenue of the company should double
Metric: The revenue of the company at the end of 6 months should be $50M
Goal: The fitness app should have the largest partner ecosystem
Metric: The app should have 100+ partners.
When the team has appropriate goals, they can understand the direction in which they have to function. A measurable goal helps the team to share the work and build a product that would add greater value to the business. But merely setting goals would not help the team to work towards the product’s success. Mapping the work completed is crucial so that the progress of the work could be tracked. This helps everyone see how their work is adding value to the business.
How to achieve Product Goals?
Product Goals could be achieved by using various methods such as KPIs (key performance indicators, MBPO (Management by Objectives), SMART goals, North Star metrics, etc depending on the type of goal. However, the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) gives a strategy to the Agile team which helps them figure out ways to achieve the Product Goal. So what exactly is this OKR method and how can we use it to achieve the Product Goals?
In the OKR (Objective and key results), the key results correspond to the methods that the team will adapt to reach the outcomes which are the objectives. This method was started by Google and is still used in the company. Many other companies such as Intel, Twitter, and LinkedIn, also use this method to set their Product Goals. Companies that have high-functioning software teams require data that is relevant and updated to track the progress of their product and how their product strategy is working. The OKR method functions as a tracking, measuring, and defining tool that measures the success of the Product Goals. However, before OKRs could be placed in the company, the culture of the company should be in such a way that OKR would fit everyone’s needs and useful to everyone.
As explained, the objectives are the outcomes which the company want from the product and the key results are the methods that the team employs to achieve that outcome.
The objectives in the OKR should be:
- Bound by the deadline- The team could decide whether they want a weekly deadline or a monthly deadline; whichever would make them productive and is realistic in everyone’s scope.
- Owned by every team member- All the objectives that are formed by the team should be everyone’s responsibility. While forming an outcome, everyone should agree so that the team shares the ownership of the objectives decided for the product.
- Inspiration and aspirational- The product team should get inspired to work harder after looking at the objectives of the product. The Product Goal should be achievable, but also should be challenging so that everyone is pushed to give their best performance and achieve collective success once the objective is fulfilled.
The key results in the OKR should be:
- Explicit- The results should keep a track of the details of the benchmarks and targets. And also have the information of which metrics to be monitored.
- Quantifiable- This is a crucial point that everyone has to stress on. The key result should be quantifiable, which indicates that the team sets a moment at which the objective is fulfilled. One particular objective can have many key results but every key result should align with the objective and should help in completing the objective.
- Used in a monitoring dashboard- The OKR monitoring tools for enterprises and startups such as BetterWorks, zenkit, Weekdone house key results which makes it easier for organizations to implement the OKR method across the organization among multiple team members.
Example of the OKR method
Objective- The average weekly session conducted on mobiles should be triple till the next 4 months.
A thorough quality analysis should be conducted for all the mobile functions
The loading time should be improved by at least 40%
The mobile version should have a new integration
Benefits of the OKR method in achieving the Product Goal
- It enhances the team collaborations and discussions such that everyone could decide the proper objectives and key results to form a great Product Goal. The team would take up ownership of the objective and key results and feel acknowledged when they are moving towards their Product Goal.
- Everyone can have a clear idea about their goal and can see how they would fit within the product strategy.
- More abstract goals are broken down into objectives that are measurable and achievable tasks. This would eliminate fuzzy thinking and avoid the team members to work on product initiatives that are not in line with the Product Goals.
The key results should not be treated as a to-do list that would help you achieve the objectives. They are also outcomes that have figures and measurements that help you move towards your goal. When you complete a specific key result and see an observable impact on the product, it helps you proceed in the same direction with more confidence in the following development process. Hence, key results can help you put things in your product roadmap which will bring you better outcomes and observable impacts.
Product Goals are tangible outcomes that align with the product vision and are measurable, achievable, and action-oriented. Product Goals help the Agile teams go in a direction that helps them move towards the vision of the product. The Product Backlog is a list of items that contain the tasks that have to be finished for the product to be fully completed. The Product Goal is a commitment to the Product Backlog. Using the methods mentioned above, any start-up or enterprise can create Product Goals effectively and use methods like OKR to achieve them successfully. Always create a Product Goal by collaborating with everyone as everyone is accountable for the Product Goal. With best practices and more experiences, teams understand the uses of metrics and form better Product Goals as their progress in product development.