9 Steps to a Product Management Strategy Framework [+ Examples]

Dayana Mayfield

Agile Product Development

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Product management requires you to juggle a hundred moving parts.

You have different user segments, team members, ideas, feature requests, stakeholders, competitors, market trends...the list goes on and on and on.

The only way to sort through the madness is to take an organized, strategic approach to your work. And to do this, you need to develop a framework.

Did you know? A product management strategy framework is used when:

  • Delegating any task related to your product

  • Setting timelines for product development

  • Deciding what user problems to solve

  • Deciding what to build

  • Improving the UX of your product

  • Adding new features

  • Assessing competitors

  • (...and a whole more)

In this guide, we cover 9 steps to crafting your own framework, plus we offer examples of the PM frameworks that Amazon, Typeform, and Spotify use.

9 steps for creating a product management strategy framework

The best digital product managers have a framework for managing their ongoing work.

Follow these steps to create your own framework (or swipe from our examples at the end!).

infographic with 9 steps to creating a product management strategy framework

1. Create a vision and narrative for your product

Having a vision for your product is critical. It keeps you and everyone else on track. It also provides internal guidance so that you’re not listening to every user under the sun—but instead following your own company vision.

These are often written in a single sentence. For instance, “Our vision is to become the more user-friendly and popular marketing automation suite.”

And while these visions are helpful, your own product management strategy should take things deeper.

Make sure that you can communicate your product narrative, which is a story that puts your users in the driver’s seat.

Forget about facts, figures, charts, and statistics. It’s the fastest way to get people to tune out. Think about any story you love. How many facts and figures do you remember? Product storytelling is no different. Your goal should be to grab and hold people’s attention by creating an emotional response.
You want your audience to see themselves as the hero of your product story, understand how they’ll overcome their most pressing challenge, and imagine a better future thanks to your product. You can use some facts and figures to prove your point, but if they aren’t wrapped up in a good story you’ll never hold anyone’s attention.
Katie Deloso, Co-founder at Knurture

For example, you might write, “Our customers can easily create automated customer journeys in a couple of clicks, and maintain and report on the journeys without hassle.”

By taking a storytelling approach, you’ll get yourself in the practice of making all of your product launch communication more compelling and you’ll also train your team to view your user as the main character.

2. Determine your process for user research

Every good PM framework must include a process for user research. It’s not enough to claim that you will do user research. You need to know the how.

For instance, you might combine these methods:

  • Maintain a power user focus group of our top 15 users.

  • Interview at least 10 users individually when researching or testing an update.

  • Send segmented user surveys every quarter.

Senior ecommerce product manager Brocco, tweets that product management is synonymous with relationship management. This concept can help remind you just how important both user and coworker relationships are.

3. Create a process for staying up to date on the overall market

How will you remain aware of what the entire market thinks...not just your users?

It’s important to include market research in your framework because you want to continuously update your strategy to meet the needs of changing and emerging markets.

In this graphic from Product School, we see a diagram of Dan Olsen’s Product-Market Fit Pyramid.

This is a smart and simple way to understand what product-market fit looks like.

All in all, you need processes for:

  • Researching your competitors’ current products

  • Researching your competitors’ known and assumed roadmap goals

  • Understanding and documenting your product-market fit

  • Researching the opinion and reaction of your market

  • Understanding how your product fits in with complimentary products on the market

4. Make a list of products whose strategies you can emulate

It’s wise to copy the product strategies, frameworks, and launches of companies you admire.

Make a list of the 2 to 3 companies you want to model yourself after. (It’s best to keep this list short and sweet so you don’t overwhelm your team with inspiration.)

For example, you might choose Shopify because you admire how they’ve owned the small- to medium-sized business market. Or you might choose Gong because of how well they’re loved by their target audience of professional sellers.

Once you’ve got your list, write down a process for following their roadmap and launch communications. You can copy a lot for your own strategy.

5. Determine your approach to collaboration

The most essential part of any product management strategy is your process for collaborating with your team.

You need clear processes for vetting new ideas, updating the roadmap, assigning feature owners, delegating backlog tasks, etc.

Write down the processes, collaboration software, and team meetings you’ll use to get each thing accomplished.

In their LinkedIn post, Hotjar advocates for transparency in product management, and we couldn’t agree more.

6. Assign KPIs for product management

Almost everything you do as a team should have a KPI associated with it. You can have KPIs for your product and team as a whole (such as a specific average retention rate) and you can also assign KPIs to a specific person (such as to improve the rate of engagement with onboarding emails).

Here are some example KPIs for product managers:

  • CSAT

  • NPS

  • Retention rate

  • Churn rate

  • New user activation rate

  • New user conversion to customer rate

  • Customer lifetime value

  • Daily active user (DAU)

  • Monthly active user (MAU)

  • Number of user actions per session

You should add these KPIs to your strategy and include how you will come up with and measure KPIs as part of your product management framework. For instance, will you assign individual KPIs quarterly? What about team KPIs? When will KPIs be reviewed and updated?

7. Craft your product roadmap

Your product roadmap is where you list out all of the upcoming features you’re planning on building, considering, and under development with.

You can also use your roadmap to show recently shipped features and collect new requests from users. Here’s an example roadmap from Frill.

Add upcoming tasks to your roadmap, and make sure your product management strategy framework reveals how you plan to manage your roadmap in the future. For example, in Shopify’s Discovery and Delivery product management framework (discussed below in our examples section), we can see that the task of backlog curation is part of the Delivery process.

Every ongoing task needs to have its own home in your overall framework.

8. Create processes and standards for documentation

Product manager Nnamdi Azodo tweets that PMs will have to write a lot more documents than they expect.

We’ve also found this to be true.

Choose the platform that you’ll use for documentation and create a bunch of templates to keep all future documents consistent.

9. Communicate your framework as simply as possible

The final step is to communicate your framework. You should have a single graphic that summarizes your enter PM framework (see examples below).

You might also want to write down a short internal blog or create a short video to explain the framework. Share this with your team to keep everyone on the same page.

3 examples of product management strategy frameworks

These product management examples come from some of the best companies around. See how Amazon, Typeform, and Spotify all approach their product management strategy. You’ll notice that each has a simple framework that can instantly communicate their strategy with their team (in a visual way).

1. Amazon’s Working Backwards framework

Amazon uses a product management strategy framework that they’ve dubbed “Working Backwards.”

You might assume that Amazon’s PMs are talking about working backward from the finished product. But no, they take it even further.

When you use their framework, you need to start with customer communication for launching your product or update. Amazon recommends writing a press release. This will force you to clarify the update with user-centric language (not tech speak).

You’ll then evaluate the opportunity and assess how compelling this update is. How will impact churn and pipeline? What user segment does it satisfy?

You must then explore possible solutions for solving this user story. Next, you’ll need stakeholder approval. Then you should craft a roadmap for this new product (or add the update to your current roadmap), and then list out the required tasks and add them to your backlog.

This is similar to the concept of Blog Post Driven Development, where you start by writing a blog post (instead of a press release). You test your ability to communicate the update and check your users’ response to it.

2. Typeform’s Discovery and Delivery framework

Typeform’s product management strategy framework is known as Discovery and Delivery.

These two phases are broken out so that product managers can separate tasks in a way that matches their unique goals.

The Discovery phase is all about user research and vetting the next plays. While the Delivery phase is all about managing products to completion.

This framework is so smart because it distills everything that product managers do down into two core responsibilities.

The simplicity is mind-blowingly helpful.

So, even if you layer other frameworks on top, you’re not going to want to ignore this one.

These tasks fall within Discovery:

  • Customer discovery

  • Data analysis

  • Market and competitor research

  • Product vision document

  • Learn UX canvas

  • Design sprint

  • Solution document

  • Prototyping

  • Landing page smoke test

These tasks fall within Delivery:

  • Story mapping

  • Event storming

  • Design ready

  • Release plan

  • Spikes

  • Story backlog

  • Backlog refinement

  • Sprint planning

  • Acceptance criteria

  • A/B testing

3. DevSquad’s Dual Track Agile strategy for client products

Here at DevSquad, we use a very similar approach to Typeform when it comes to product management and development, but we call it Dual Track Agile.

We believe that product development is a series of bets. To keep pace with customer demands while maintaining your budget for development, you have to continually make bets.

We run two agile sprints at a time. In our Discovery sprints, our product manager and UX designer collect data for the next bets, vet them, and design them. While in our concurrent Delivery sprints, our engineers, QA managers, and DevOps are building the bets that were previously approved.

We run development for our clients with fully-managed teams. If you’re interested in working with us, check out our home page to learn more.

4. Spotify’s Think It, Build, Ship It, Tweak It framework

Spotify’s Think It, Build It, Ship It, Tweak It framework is great for taking the complex work of product management and giving it a sensible timeline.

Here’s a deeper dive into the 4 phases:

  1. Think It. Here, you’ll vet whether the idea is worth building and how critical it is to your best users. You’ll also come up with different options for satisfying the need.

  2. Build It. Next, you’ll develop your roadmap, UX, and MVP.

  3. Ship It. In this phase, you deploy the product or update to the right user segments, and then roll it out platform-wide.

  4. Tweak It. You’ll collect qualitative and quantitative data on your users’ reactions to your product, including one-on-one interviews, surveys, and product analytics. You’ll reiterate accordingly.

For more examples of different frameworks, check out our article on product management techniques.

And remember: you don’t have to come up with your own PM strategy framework. You can use one of these examples. Design a poster in your company’s branding and share it with your whole team.

Build your product under the guidance of a pro PM

When you’re building a digital product, you need a senior-level product manager to research your market, vet new ideas, build your roadmap, and communicate with engineers.

Here at DevSquad, we bring product expertise to everything we build, from complex government applications to new SaaS MVPs.

Learn more about DevSquad’s unique approach to product development.

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