Formalizing product vision through a motto, a design, or any other kind of easy-to-remember visual representation helps better define and give more meaning to a project. Whether we’re looking at a whole agile enterprise transformation project or considering the development of a new software application, this “meaning” plays a key role: it allows teams to collectively apprehend the product to deliver, while making sure to share its purpose in the clearest way possible. Let’s take a closer look at what product vision consists of in the Agile Scrum method.
Product Owner: the guardian of product vision
Product vision sets the product’s direction in both the short and the long run. Product vision has to be short, crystal clear, goal-oriented. However, to be effective, product vision has to be promoted and shared within the entire company, encouraging teams’ projection into the future. This actually corresponds to the Product Owner’s role in Scrum, which is nowadays the most popular agile method.
That’s why the Product Owner’s role is the cornerstone of the Scrum method. If we take another look at it, the Product Owner is actually here to support business strategy, hence Product Vision. As so, it’s his responsibility to make sure everyone in the company – managers, developers, customers, business partners and also other business departments – is on the same page. Product vision appears to be the key to developing and delivering in phase with the business strategy, but mostly, to harmonize the entire development chain.
Sprints: the iteration vision
The Sprint is a short iteration encompassing analysis, design, test and development operations. Thanks to the sprint planning, the project team has a clear vision of the amount of work effort they need to put in, to go through the next iteration. Work can then start right away, everyone knows exactly what to bring throughout the process, until its completion. In the iteration, features to be developed are planned in the « sprint backlog ».
During the sprint, the “cardwall” and the « burndown » graphs provide a visual overview on the sprint progress.
Stand-up meetings: the daily vision
The development team meets on a daily basis for the daily scrum meeting (also called stand-up meeting) in order not only to report the work done the day before and the work planned for the current day, but also to point out any difficulty and potential bottlenecks. Each team member updates others on their ongoing tasks and what is left to be done for their completion, hence keeping the sprint progress graph up-to-date.
The stand-up meeting generally lasts 15 minutes.
2 workshops to improve product vision
The Elevator Pitch
The elevator pitch is a commonly used technique to sum up product vision. It consists of being able to synthesize the “why” of the project in a short period of time. The basics. The goal is to be able to tell a compelling story and seduce the audience, in less than a minute. Often used in the business world, a good elevator pitch requires to be succinct. Team members must know it too: it’s the key points of their project after all! It must be spread out as much as possible.
This little workshop also have to gather everyone, from decision-makers to developers. In Agile project management, it goes as follows:
- WHO: which type of customers / personas
- WANTS WHAT: expression of needs
- WHICH IS: the product that meets those needs
- CATEGORY: product category
- PROVIDING: key benefits
- UNLIKE: main alternatives
- OUR PRODUCT: your product’s key differentiators
For instance, we could define Tuleap’s elevator pitch this way:
« For the teams that wants to bring efficiency and better monitor their projects, Tuleap is an enterprise agile project management tool, enabling them to plan, manage, monitor and develop projects in a collaborative environment. Unlike many other traditional and non-flexible solutions on the market, Tuleap is an all-in-one platform that evolves together with the team, providing full adaptability. »
Product Vision Box
The Product Vision Box is a technique to use at the very beginning of a project in order to create and share product vision, not only with the development team, but also with sales. This is a must-have for the Product Owner.
This workshop consists of creating a box (the size of a cereal box) gathering all the necessary information to define a clear vision. Including a playful aspect, this exercise holds several purposes: encouraging discussions, point-of-view comparisons and arbitration, while eliminating misunderstandings. This way, participants are pushed to prioritize and go straight to the point. Here follows how the box is commonly organized:
The front side of the box
- Project’s name
- Project image or logo
- The 3 or 4 main points to promote the product
The back side of the box
This part showcases more details, since it gathers all the product’s features as well as the preconditions of the project.
The two lateral sides of the Product Vision box
Just like you can find ingredients on a cereal box, you can define the main « ingredients » your product is made of: technical needs (framework, language…), business needs, and potential trainings if needed.
On the other side, you can provide details on your target audience and their profiles.