October 8, 2018

Product Vision Board: the First Step to Discovering a Successful Software Product through Product Inception

The Product Vision is crucial for any software product. It tells you where you are going, why you are going there, and who you are going there for. We use the Product Vision Board to define the Product Vision and lay out the path that we will use to make that vision a reality.

A well-defined product vision is the foundation to a successful development process, while an unclear product vision will often leave your development team confused, making it difficult to prioritize user stories and features. In the end, without product vision, your users may not even understand what your product does.

What is a Product Vision?

The product vision is a short statement that encapsulates what you are trying to achieve with a product. It sounds simple, but in reality it can be quite challenging. Say for example, we want to create a calendar application for finding meeting times. That sounds great, but that's not a clear product vision. Product vision isn't actually about the product at all, it's about what the product will do and what problem it will solve.

A much better product vision would be:

Post-it for Product Vision
Post-it for Product Vision

This tells us exactly what we want to achieve, which will keep us focused on track throughout the development process.

Product Vision Board

Now we finally get to the Product Vision Board. This is where we will lay out the product vision and visualize our target audience, needs, product, and business goals.

Product Vision Board Template, Blank Product Vision Board
Product Vision Board Template, Blank Product Vision Board

Product Vision

We start out with the product vision, and we will need to keep this in mind as we go through all the rest of the board. The product vision should guide every other decision we make about the product. If it doesn't serve the vision, it's not necessary.

Product Vision section of the Product Vision Board
Product Vision section of the Product Vision Board

Target Group

What market or market segment does the product address?

Here you want to write down who the potential users and customers for your product will be. We want to be as specific as possible here. Defining a narrow target group makes it easier to test your assumptions later on.

For our example, we might put down:

Target Group Section from the Product Vision Board
Target Group Section from the Product Vision Board

Needs

What problem does the product solve?

This is where we can lay out the main problem that our product will solve, why people will want to use the product, and what benefits it will provide to users. In short, it's your value proposition, why people will want to use your product. Think about what is absolutely necessary to successfully solve the problem.

Needs Section from the Product Vision Board
Needs Section from the Product Vision Board

Product

What are we going to build and what will make it stand out?

Here we will describe what the product is by summarizing 3-5 main features that are crucial for its success and that will make it stand out from the competition. This is not a place to start setting the product backlog, though. This should be a maximum of 5 features and descriptions that capture the basic essence of the product.

Product Section from the Product Vision Board
Product Section from the Product Vision Board

Business Goals

What business need is the product going to address? Why is it worthwhile for the company to invest in the product?

In this section, we will describe why it's worthwhile to invest in the creation of the product, which will help us later on to prioritize and understand which features will deliver the most business value.

Business Goals Section from the Product Vision Board
Business Goals Section from the Product Vision Board

Completed Product Vision Board

There you have it. You've completed your Product Vision Board. Now you are ready to continue the Product Inception process.

Completed Product Vision Board, Product Vision Board example
Completed Product Vision Board, Product Vision Board example

Conclusion

At the end of this process, you should have a well-defined product vision and a bird's eye view of how to get there.

Have an idea? Want to turn it into a successful software product? Read more about sophilabs' End-to-End Development Services!


"Product Vision Board: the First Step to Discovering a Successful Software Product through Product Inception" by Layne Hofman is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photo by Jamie Street under this license.

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