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Product Planning Process: What Is It and How To Do It?

Any great product starts with an idea. But taking a brilliant idea and transforming it into a brilliant product requires quite a bit of planning. What is product planning, and how does one go about it? It’s not enough to plan how the product will look or what it will do, but you will need to ensure that it will be sustainable in the market and will have the competitive edge over its peersIn this blog, you’ll learn the steps involved in taking a product from ideation through completion. What is Product Planning?Product planning is one of the most crucial stages in the lifecycle of any product. While many people assume that it is a one-time event that happens at the beginning of a new project, nothing could be further from the truth. Especially in an Agile project where requirements are volatile, planning is an ongoing process that happens from the start right through till the end. The more the time and thought that goes into Product Planning, the more sustainable and competitive the product is likely to be in the market! Product Planning can be defined as the continual process of identifying the market requirements and end-user needs, communicating these requirements and planning the work that will go into developing a product’s feature set. It is the strategy created around the product from start to finish what features it should have, how it compares to the market competition, how it should be developed, how it can be marketed and promoted, what the pricing strategy should be, and how it can be distributed to end users. It involves planning the end-to-end management of the product through its life cycle. And in a few unfortunate scenarios, in case the product needs to be killed since it is no longer feasible, it involves formulating an exit strategy that does the least harm to the company.Market surveys are an important part of product planning. Based on what features the competition is offering, you might have to tweak or embellish the features of your product to make it more attractive to the end user. It would need to offer more value than what is currently available, or likely to become available, in the market, to offer competitive advantage. Features that are no longer considered of value can be deleted, and new features added, or improvements made to existing features.The product planning process involves inputs and feedback from everyone who is in any way involved with the product, right from those who are designing and developing it, to those involved in marketing and sales, to stakeholders and customer relationship managers who know the pulse of the market.Product Planning is never actually finished!If you thought that the plan that was created at the start of the project can be carried through to the end, you’ve got another think coming!Imagine a scenario where, halfway through the product development, you find out that a competitor has released a product that has better features than yours. You would want your team to course correct and incorporate improved features that are one-up on your competitor. Or, a customer survey might reveal that the customers are looking for something a bit different from what you had envisaged. In either case, you might need to revisit your earlier planning decisions and make some changes in the plan that had been rolled out earlier.It’s important that your teams must understand, right at the very beginning, that their carefully laid plans may go asunder, and priorities might change along the way. Product planning is never actually finished—not till the last line of code is done and dusted, or the last requested service is done!  Always create the expectation that change will happen, and it is an intrinsic part of the planning process.How to Make a Product Plan: Step by step process1. ConceptualisationOne of the most important steps is the conceptualisation of the product. What exactly are you trying to build? What is the idea behind it, and what has motivated you to consider this product? Create a high-level definition of the product, the demographic it caters to and what it is expected to do. Keep in mind your initial understanding of the problems and challenges you might face.2. Market researchThe next, and very important step is conducting a thorough research of the existing market. For your idea to sell, it should fit a niche in the market. While it does not have to be unique, it should offer something that the competitors don’t. Study their strengths and weaknesses and see how to position your product in the market.3. Test planningNext, without getting too deep into the development, create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product).  This will be something you can put in front of your customers for them to test and offer their constructive feedback on.4. Product maturity detailingRight after the launch, you will need to work on product maturity. The product maturity stage is one where the product has received widespread acceptance, and the sales growth is at a peak but is yet to slow down.  By merging the roadmap and product plan, you will be able to detail out the pricing and sales strategy which will keep your product viable and sustainable in the market for the longest time. 5. Planning the product life cycleThe project plan will encompass the end-to-end product lifecycle and does not stop with the product launch. When the product is first launched, sales are likely to be good as there will be initial market buzz and customer interest, and competition is low. However, as the product nears maturity, competitors will come up with their own products and the strategic plan should include ways to outrival the peers. A well formulated product plan will consider the market needs throughout the lifecycle of the product.Get Collaborative with the Best Product Planning SoftwareTeams that use product planning software to lay out and share their plans find that decision making, collaboration and communication is much easier. Some of the most popular software tools include the following: Product Plan: A roadmap planning platform, it helps to align your teams for better collaboration, allowing to easily build and share planning roadmaps. Project Manager.com: Streamlines all the steps in product planning, right from crafting the vision, conducting market research, creating the product plan, team sprint planning, product delivery and marketing plans. Asana: This product roadmap tool helps teams to collaborate on everything, from daily tasks to strategic planning initiatives. Jira: Jira from Atlassian helps teams manage all stages of the product workflow, from the start to the launch. Planning, shipping and releasing become a breeze. Confluence: Confluence, also from Atlassian, is a thoughtfully created tool for product roadmap planning. Set timelines, goals and communicate easily across teams. Source link: projectmanager.comHow to Craft Your Product Planning StrategyProduct planning, when done right, helps to streamline and orchestrate tasks and processes, within teams and across teams, for successful delivery of the product. Here are the steps involved in crafting an effective product planning strategy: Create a mindset where it is understood that planning is an ongoing process. Even if the entire team has signed off on strategic objectives during the initial product planning meeting, it's important to realise that having the ability to change course and redefine objectives, as and when required, will lead to a much more relevant product in the end. Set up efficient lines of communication and real-time sharing throughout the product development process. This should happen outside of team meetings, as well, so that everyone is always on the same page. When there is an unexpected shift in priority, it's important that everyone is aware of it. Changes to your plan can happen at various stages throughout the process, and updates or additions to plans must be communicated on time to prevent rework. Product roadmap tools are a great way to keep everyone in the know at all times. Give your team a summary of the raw data, so they know why the changes are being requested. Whenever strategic changes are being made, in order to get team, buy-in you should help them to understand why this course correction is being proposed. Summarize the data, instead of giving them raw figures and expecting them to arrive at their own conclusions. When they have the reasons behind the change, they will be more engaged in the work they are doing. Schedule regular product planning ceremonies for more effective communication. By calling for meetings with stakeholders and key players across the company, where they are apprised of the latest developments, strategic updates to the plan, and the progress of work, you can ensure that everyone gets a chance to weigh in with their suggestions and feedback. However, do note that it’s important that the team should be kept updated along the way as well, and not just at these larger events.Concluding thoughts A well-thought-out product plan is the foundation of effective product management. It allows product teams to streamline their processes, and plan, develop and deliver successful solutions that meet and exceed market expectations and create customer delight. When product planning is not done right, the entire initiative is liable to fail.
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Product Planning Process: What Is It and How To Do It?

Susan May
Blog
22nd Sep, 2021
Product Planning Process: What Is It and How To Do It?

Any great product starts with an idea. But taking a brilliant idea and transforming it into a brilliant product requires quite a bit of planning. What is product planning, and how does one go about it? It’s not enough to plan how the product will look or what it will do, but you will need to ensure that it will be sustainable in the market and will have the competitive edge over its peers

In this blog, you’ll learn the steps involved in taking a product from ideation through completion. 

What is Product Planning?

Product planning is one of the most crucial stages in the lifecycle of any product. While many people assume that it is a one-time event that happens at the beginning of a new project, nothing could be further from the truth. Especially in an Agile project where requirements are volatile, planning is an ongoing process that happens from the start right through till the end. The more the time and thought that goes into Product Planning, the more sustainable and competitive the product is likely to be in the market! 

Product Planning can be defined as the continual process of identifying the market requirements and end-user needs, communicating these requirements and planning the work that will go into developing a product’s feature set. It is the strategy created around the product from start to finish what features it should have, how it compares to the market competition, how it should be developed, how it can be marketed and promoted, what the pricing strategy should be, and how it can be distributed to end users. It involves planning the end-to-end management of the product through its life cycle. And in a few unfortunate scenarios, in case the product needs to be killed since it is no longer feasible, it involves formulating an exit strategy that does the least harm to the company.

Market surveys are an important part of product planning. Based on what features the competition is offering, you might have to tweak or embellish the features of your product to make it more attractive to the end user. It would need to offer more value than what is currently available, or likely to become available, in the market, to offer competitive advantage. Features that are no longer considered of value can be deleted, and new features added, or improvements made to existing features.

The product planning process involves inputs and feedback from everyone who is in any way involved with the product, right from those who are designing and developing it, to those involved in marketing and sales, to stakeholders and customer relationship managers who know the pulse of the market.

Product Planning is never actually finished!

If you thought that the plan that was created at the start of the project can be carried through to the end, you’ve got another think coming!

Imagine a scenario where, halfway through the product development, you find out that a competitor has released a product that has better features than yours. You would want your team to course correct and incorporate improved features that are one-up on your competitor. Or, a customer survey might reveal that the customers are looking for something a bit different from what you had envisaged. In either case, you might need to revisit your earlier planning decisions and make some changes in the plan that had been rolled out earlier.

It’s important that your teams must understand, right at the very beginning, that their carefully laid plans may go asunder, and priorities might change along the way. Product planning is never actually finished—not till the last line of code is done and dusted, or the last requested service is done!  Always create the expectation that change will happen, and it is an intrinsic part of the planning process.

How to Make a Product Plan: Step by step process

1. Conceptualisation

One of the most important steps is the conceptualisation of the product. What exactly are you trying to build? What is the idea behind it, and what has motivated you to consider this product? Create a high-level definition of the product, the demographic it caters to and what it is expected to do. Keep in mind your initial understanding of the problems and challenges you might face.

2. Market research

The next, and very important step is conducting a thorough research of the existing market. For your idea to sell, it should fit a niche in the market. While it does not have to be unique, it should offer something that the competitors don’t. Study their strengths and weaknesses and see how to position your product in the market.

3. Test planning

Next, without getting too deep into the development, create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product).  This will be something you can put in front of your customers for them to test and offer their constructive feedback on.

4. Product maturity detailing

Right after the launch, you will need to work on product maturity. The product maturity stage is one where the product has received widespread acceptance, and the sales growth is at a peak but is yet to slow down.  By merging the roadmap and product plan, you will be able to detail out the pricing and sales strategy which will keep your product viable and sustainable in the market for the longest time. 

5. Planning the product life cycle

The project plan will encompass the end-to-end product lifecycle and does not stop with the product launch. When the product is first launched, sales are likely to be good as there will be initial market buzz and customer interest, and competition is low. However, as the product nears maturity, competitors will come up with their own products and the strategic plan should include ways to outrival the peers. A well formulated product plan will consider the market needs throughout the lifecycle of the product.

Get Collaborative with the Best Product Planning Software

Teams that use product planning software to lay out and share their plans find that decision making, collaboration and communication is much easier. Some of the most popular software tools include the following: 

  • Product Plan: A roadmap planning platform, it helps to align your teams for better collaboration, allowing to easily build and share planning roadmaps. 
  • Project Manager.com: Streamlines all the steps in product planning, right from crafting the vision, conducting market research, creating the product plan, team sprint planning, product delivery and marketing plans. 
  • Asana: This product roadmap tool helps teams to collaborate on everything, from daily tasks to strategic planning initiatives. 
  • Jira: Jira from Atlassian helps teams manage all stages of the product workflow, from the start to the launch. Planning, shipping and releasing become a breeze. 
  • Confluence: Confluence, also from Atlassian, is a thoughtfully created tool for product roadmap planning. Set timelines, goals and communicate easily across teams. 

Source link: projectmanager.com

How to Craft Your Product Planning Strategy

Product planning, when done right, helps to streamline and orchestrate tasks and processes, within teams and across teams, for successful delivery of the product. Here are the steps involved in crafting an effective product planning strategy: 

  1. Create a mindset where it is understood that planning is an ongoing process. Even if the entire team has signed off on strategic objectives during the initial product planning meeting, it's important to realise that having the ability to change course and redefine objectives, as and when required, will lead to a much more relevant product in the end. 
  2. Set up efficient lines of communication and real-time sharing throughout the product development process. This should happen outside of team meetings, as well, so that everyone is always on the same page. When there is an unexpected shift in priority, it's important that everyone is aware of it. Changes to your plan can happen at various stages throughout the process, and updates or additions to plans must be communicated on time to prevent rework. Product roadmap tools are a great way to keep everyone in the know at all times. 
  3. Give your team a summary of the raw data, so they know why the changes are being requested. Whenever strategic changes are being made, in order to get team, buy-in you should help them to understand why this course correction is being proposed. Summarize the data, instead of giving them raw figures and expecting them to arrive at their own conclusions. When they have the reasons behind the change, they will be more engaged in the work they are doing. 
  4. Schedule regular product planning ceremonies for more effective communication. By calling for meetings with stakeholders and key players across the company, where they are apprised of the latest developments, strategic updates to the plan, and the progress of work, you can ensure that everyone gets a chance to weigh in with their suggestions and feedback. However, do note that it’s important that the team should be kept updated along the way as well, and not just at these larger events.

Concluding thoughts 

A well-thought-out product plan is the foundation of effective product management. It allows product teams to streamline their processes, and plan, develop and deliver successful solutions that meet and exceed market expectations and create customer delight. When product planning is not done right, the entire initiative is liable to fail.

Susan

Susan May

Writer, Developer, Explorer

Susan is a gamer, internet scholar and an entrepreneur, specialising in Big Data, Hadoop, Web Development and many other technologies. She is the author of several articles published on Zeolearn and KnowledgeHut blogs. She has gained a lot of experience by working as a freelancer and is now working as a trainer. As a developer, she has spoken at various international tech conferences around the globe about Big Data.


Website : https://www.zeolearn.com

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