What are Product Goals and How to Set them?

Product Goals

Goals provide purpose in the daily walk of life, and they prompt us to dust ourselves up and keep moving forward. 

It’s only apparent to have a vision and determine your product goal before you have your bee in the bonnet and assiduously start working on the product. 

Goals form the essential bridge between the vision and the final work to further that vision. 

Now, with this idea, let’s move forward, 

What Are Product Goals?

Let’s start with the definition:

Product goals are product features that help users accomplish specific product-related tasks. 

Product goals help us understand what product features we should include in the design, and they also help product managers communicate the product vision with the team.

Product goals should always describe what product users will achieve using a particular feature or functionality. 

This description helps the teams prioritize their work and ensures that all team members remain focused on achieving product success. 

An excellent way to think about product goals is as a problem/solution statement – for example: “ensures reliable shipping” would be an example of a shipping goal.

We usually start the work with a product goal in mind. 

Like any other managerial job here, It’s the product manager’s job to identify product goals and communicate them with other team members. 

Product goals should always be measurable as they will help set the direction. 

For example, if we had a shipping feature as one of your product goals and someone asked you: “how do you know when the shipping feature is ready” – you would answer by saying: “the feature will support real-time carrier quotes for all destination zip codes.”

A set of product goals forms what is known as a product roadmap (product strategy) that describes how users can achieve meaningful results or solve specific problems. 

The product roadmap helps determine what features to build next – it allows for collaboration between teams and product managers. 

The product roadmap helps product managers set the product direction, visualize product goals, and determine what needs to be done before transitioning to the next product goal. 

Product managers can add or remove product goals from a roadmap at any time.

How Are Product Goals Important for Your Organization?

We will reiterate a famous saying that ‘If you intend to be successful, set a goal that commands your dreams, liberates your energy and helps realize your aspirations.’ 

Product goal helps you diligently streamline your product visions and ideas, form strategies around them, and later set a deadline to realize it. 

Product goals serve an essential purpose because of the following reasons:

1. With the goals in hand, teams get a list of all features to be included in the product, ensuring that all development work is valuable and relevant to users’ needs. 

2. They help product teams communicate product vision within the group. It allows product managers to set direction and message management strategies that are easy for teams to understand.

3. Product goals help prioritize work and ensure that all product development work is valuable and relevant.

4. They define how you will know when the product is ready, allowing product managers to measure progress to see if they are on track or not.

5. Product goals help product managers set the product strategy. During visioning, product managers work with marketing to define roadmaps and plan to help them meet their business objectives while also delivering value to users.

6. Product goals allow product managers to collaborate with marketing and sales teams when messaging features for marketing campaigns

They are used to pitch new ideas, demonstrate competitive advantages, and showcase new product capabilities/features within internal stakeholders‘ requests or customer feedback.

7. Product goals help deliver value while not overwhelming teams with too many ideas or requests from stakeholders.

8. Finally, product goals help prioritize work and determine the next steps for development.

Product Goal Example

Now let’s elucidate with an example of a product goal. Let’s say you are the product manager of a product that helps users schedule meetings for free with their co-workers. 

One of your product goals is to allow users to schedule meetings on mobile devices. You can also have product goals like:

  • ensures reliability and accuracy of the product
  • helps reduce support cases related to the product by 50%

These product goals help communicate what problems you are trying to solve, define how you will measure success, and demonstrate success for product managers when it comes time for annual performance reviews.

This simple example will help you gauze that:

Product goals act as an effective communication tool between product teams, as it ensures that everyone is working towards the same purpose within an organization.

The final takeaway is that product managers should always define product goals in collaboration with product marketers and product development teams

Companies should use product goals to communicate product vision within product development teams, measure progress towards meeting product release dates, provide insight into what is most important to the business, and help determine if a product is ready for market. 

In short, product goals are a critical part of any product strategy.

How To Set Product Goals?

Setting a product goal can be one of the most grueling tasks for a product manager, and this is because it requires a collaborative approach.

Here are the following steps which a product manager should undertake to set product goals.

Step: 1

Share the product vision with various teams. 

Communication and collaboration are the keys to almost all product-related initiatives, especially while setting product goals, because it’s crucial to bring all the team members on board beforehand. 

This approach will minimize the chances of trifles and unnecessary confusion. 

Step: 2

Bring all these product teams together to establish product themes from the vision document. 

Identify specific features needed to deliver on each product theme. Bear in mind that not every feature will get developed or released at once. 

That is why it is critical to keep a high-level picture of what the product roadmap looks like over time, so you don’t lose sight of your product goals and priorities.

Step: 3

Prioritize product roadmaps based on business objectives, and user needs using rigorous prioritization frameworks like AARRR or Kano Model

Ensure that you clearly understand how each new feature helps users achieve their goals more effectively.

Step: 4 

Just because you identify a product theme as a product goal doesn’t mean it gets developed. Every product has many goals, so don’t confuse this with a product roadmap. 

Product roadmaps show how you will build new features, while product goals help set priorities within that roadmap around themes and features around those themes.

Step: 5

Bring everything together to establish product goals from your product vision and themes to your product roadmap. 

Remember that your product manager should define every product goal in collaboration with all cross-functional team members. 

What Are Short-Term Product Goals?

Short term product goals are:

1. Product goals that are actionable within teams.

2. Product goals that are measurable in the short term.

3. Product goals with an end date when the product will evaluate whether or not you met them.

4. Product goals help product managers determine which features you should build in any release.

5. Product goals guide development teams through sprints, milestones, and releases.

6. Product goals define success for each new feature being developed by the team (e.g., if this feature doesn’t reduce support cases by at least 30%, then it is a failure).

Difference Between Short Term And Long Term Product Goals 

Let’s now quickly latch onto the differences between the short term and long term product goals:

1. Product goals with short-term goals have a product release cycle. Short-term product goals can be tied to business objectives such as the number of new users acquired, revenue targets, and so on.

On the other hand, product goals within long-term product goals don’t necessarily mean they need to be met by the end of the product release cycle (this is especially true for enterprise software companies). 

2. Short-term product goals are where you want to focus your attention on a specific date or time frame. These goals can include anything from feature readiness, hardening sprints, betas, and more. 

Longer product goals are where you plan your product’s future vision.

These goals include product roadmaps planning sessions, product development planning, product design planning, and product strategizing, to name a few examples.

3. Long-term product goals generally come from a company’s product strategy. 

You can use product goals within long-term product goals to measure success across product releases and product milestones (quarterly/annual) with the product manager’s overall vision for the product.

On the other hand, short-term product goals are part of a product manager’s tactical plan to guide an entire release cycle (or multiple). 

In most cases, your organization’s product management team will create both.

4. Long-term product goals come from the company’s product strategy. 

In contrast, short-term product goals are part of a product manager’s tactical plan to guide an entire release cycle (or multiple). 

In most cases, your organization’s product management team will create both.

Product Goals vs. the Product Manager Goals

The product manager serves as a critical limb to any organization, and that is why it is plausible to intermingle the product manager and product goals. 

But, if you wish to stand out in the competitive market, you must be aware of the relation between the two. Although often mixed, there is no stark difference between product manager goals and product goals.

Few Similarities You Must Know:

1. Product goals are set by product teams, whereas product managers develop product goals and strategies with cross-functional product teams such as engineers, designers, marketers, and product marketing managers.

2. Product teams can define product measures and product metrics related to product goals, whereas product managers use these measures mainly for performance tracking purposes.

3. Product goals are product specific, while product manager goals are company-wide.

4. While product teams can define product revenue goals, product managers focus on developing the product strategy to maximize product opportunities for revenue growth.

5. Product managers use product goals as tools for product strategy development and product prioritization.

Let’s take an example:

Initially, Apple Inc. wanted to expand its market share in Japan and China by setting up retail stores and online websites in these countries. 

They were supposed to develop an iOS app for Japanese and Chinese users to generate revenue from both markets. 

However, due to a lack of mobile applications development expertise, the company faced some tedious tasks while developing mobile apps, so they decided to build product initiatives and product goals by setting product manager goals. 

Instead of developing apps, product managers created a roadmap for all product initiatives, which helped them achieve their product management objectives.   

Product Goals and Initiatives 

Let’s also understand another concomitant concept that affects product goal- ‘product initiative.’ 

Definition: Product initiatives are product management tools used to manage product vision, roadmap, and launches. Product managers use it to create roadmaps and product releases.

Difference Between Product Goals and Initiatives

1. Product goals are the end product or product features desired to be developed. In contrast, initiatives, on the other hand, are defined as programs, projects, tasks, and events that support product goals.

2. Product goals are defined at the product level. 

In contrast, you can define initiatives at the product level, product line level, or enterprise-wide level initiatives that are used to help product managers prioritize all product implementations. In contrast, product goals identify the highest priority product work.

3. Product goals are specific measures to guide product development, whereas initiatives can vary in length and time frame.

4. Product goals are generally established for product features, whereas initiatives could consist of multiple product features, which may not necessarily be part of the product goal (initiatives).

5. Product goal is targeted to deliver the value proposition. In contrast, an initiative might target releasing a particular product feature on schedule, releasing an updated version of the product, meeting specific quality standards, and so on.

Product Goals and Product Backlogs

Speaking of intricate and hooked concepts, let’s now learn about product backlogs and how they affect product goals.

Product goals and product backlogs also go hand in hand, like product initiative and goal.

Difference Between Product Goals and Product Backlogs

1. A product goal is a high-level product requirement, whereas a product backlog is a list of product requirements prioritized for fulfillment.

2. A product goal is a product management activity, whereas a product backlog is a product development activity.

3. You can document a product goal in any format. Still, you should prioritize and write down product backlogs on index cards or sticky notes before refining them further into product requirements.

4. It will be easy to understand the intent of product goals from business strategy documents, whereas product requirements must come from product backlog discussions, workshops, and reviews.

5. The role of the product owner is responsible for articulating product goals. In contrast, the scrum master is responsible for facilitating the implementation of product features/product backlog items (PBI).

It’s all about understanding each other’s roles so that you guys can help your organization in achieving its unique objectives through your extraordinary customer-centric solutions.

Conclusion

A well-defined product goal can be a stepping stone to product success. 

It can lubricate the process of product management by providing insight into a product vision, strategy, and workflow.

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