“Product goals” can sound like one of those buzzwords that get flung around but which you only look into before meetings with stakeholders. That’s an impression I often get in conversations with junior product managers. Their eyes go blank when the term comes up and their mind clearly wanders to all the nifty features they could be conjuring instead of this boring biz-dev stuff.
Are they in for a surprise.
Product goals are a stepping stone on the road to producing a viable product that achieves market fit. No product that ever made it to fame, or even to profitability ever skipped the goals, and the fundamental understanding of what it is the team is trying to accomplish.
Why product goals are a critical link in the product chain
Put simply, product goals are a KPI-driven element that connects between vision and execution. Much of the product management process is about breaking down ideas into actionable items: ideation turns into users stories, epics and themes; roadmaps are composed of sprints and backlogs and so on.
In this context, goals are the leader’s way of translating the product strategy into more concrete ideas, which can then be made actionable.
Goals are still an abstract idea, but objectives (usually called Milestones) are a means of turning the idea into a tangible concept and achieving it. Where goals would be a strategic, measurable target that stem from Key Performance Indicators – milestones are usually a list of actions we’ll need to take in order to obtain those goals.
Example of Product Goals and Milestones/Objectives
To give an idea of the goal-milestone relationship:
- Goal – lose 20 pounds in 3 months
- Milestones – reduce sugar consumption to 1 item p/day; jog 3 times a week; eat fresh salad 4 times a week
You’ll notice that both goals and milestones are measurable and anchored in hard numbers.
Now, following the milestones plan doesn’t automatically guarantee you’ll lose all 20 pounds in 3 months. There’s a whole optimization process ahead, wherein you can adjust tactics and milestones if you notice you aren’t meeting the timeline. If, after 3 weeks, you notice you’re losing weight rapidly – you might consider tweaking your diet to match your new sports regime. There’s also the option you’ve set an unrealistic time frame, and may need to fine-tune your metrics/schedule accordingly.
Examples from the world of Product Management
While personal health speaks to everyone, I put together a short list of product-related examples that may be more enlightening to the product professionals among us:
- Product goal – increase user retention by 15% in Q1
- Re-do entire onboarding drip campaign (6 emails)
- Implement analytics tool by end of month
- Implement support-bot by end of month
- Add 15 items to knowledgebase, based on user searches
- Design and launch incentive plan, including up to 25% discount
- Product goal: double average weekly sessions on mobile by end of May
- QA all mobile functions
- Improve loading time by 30%
- Add 3 top integrations to mobile version
In Craft, product goals are designed as part of the Strategize section. This structure allows you to carefully and thoughtfully assemble your strategic goals in containers, where they can be meaningful guidelines in your roadmap, and a constant reminder to the team and stakeholders where you’re going and why.
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