How to Build a Solid Product Plan

It seems simple enough: If you’re listening to your customer, you should have a good idea of what they need. Couple that with your ability to provide it as well and determine a long-term strategy for their product, and you’ve just delivered a well-rounded roadmap for success.

Well, it’s not that easy according to Kenton Kivestu’s blog. Kivestu, a lead project manager at Zynga, knows to build a good long-term plan: You need a framework. He breaks down the framework into two areas: trends and beliefs.

Strategy Framework

Beliefs and Trends Matrix

Beliefs come in two forms:

  1. What you believe your customer wants. Such as, you think they need a long-term social strategy.
  2. What your customer believes they need. They think they need a Facebook page.

Trends also come in two forms:

  1. Internal trends, such as usage data, analytics, etc
  2. External trends, like users keep asking for a new feature.

This framework functions as a tool to drive focus to the right issues and block out the noise. It illustrates where you’re spending most of your effort and why you’re doing that. It helps align a team around a streamlined strategy and keeps you focused on the results, not the outliers. He goes on to illustrate the concept using the examples of well-know products.

Populated Framework

How it Works for Apple, Instagram, Evernote and Twitter

Initially, the iPad had no positive external data and zero customers. Steve Jobs was the sole internal driver of this product with no customer support. Instagram listened to internal customer data which resulted in the Instagram we know and love today. Evernote’s mission combined with the external trend of sharing food photos created Evernote for Food. Lastly, Twitter’s hashtag was created by user Chris Messina and it evolved into what we know today.

So when it’s time to to develop that plan, try using a beliefs and trends matrix to drive your efforts into areas that can provide value and results for your client.