A product vision may sound like something large corporates work on. It may sound like a waste of time. However, a good product vision helps your team make the right choices while building your product.
Do I really need to spend time on this?
Yes! We believe every company needs a product vision. Whether you are starting out and still have to write the first line of code or have been in the business for decades. But it doesn’t even stop with developing it. You also have to maintain a product vision because it will very likely evolve over time.
It is the foundation for so many aspects that define the features you should or shouldn't include in your product, how things work and even how the team functions.When you have a vision, each person within your company is empowered to make decisions that align with this vision.
So what is a product vision?
In short, a vision paints a picture of your customer’s world when your product fully delivers what you have in mind. By definition, this is utopian, probably unattainable, but it is a perfect north star to aim for.
Vision is often mentioned along with other terms like mission, values, and goals. We'll define those as well to show how we think they complement each other.
While the vision paints a picture of the future, the mission states what your product does right now to make that vision reality.
The values clarify how your product completes the mission and gets to the vision.
A company should have a vision, but a product should also have one. For a typical SaaS company with only one product, they may be the same — but not necessarily; think about the ambition the company has to grow in a number of products, for example.
How do I use these tools?
The vision, mission, values, and goals are there to help anyone in the organization understand what your product does. They provide direction to everyone, not just your product development team, even though they are the first to reap the benefits of having this.
For the sales team, this means they can target specific leads that align with the vision and for which your product can offer the best solution for their problems. Similarly, the support team can better act as a filter for new feature ideas because they can judge whether it fits with the vision.
But even in the product team itself, the vision, mission, and values can be used to evaluate every new problem to solve, every technical decision, prioritize every issue on the roadmap, and validate any solution proposed.
And finally, for everyone, a compelling vision inspires and motivates a team.
What if I don’t?
When a product & engineering team lacks a vision, it results in unclear or ever-changing priorities because customers dictate what they want to build as short-term solutions for their problems.
On the sales and marketing side, your team might be selling features that do not exist or are relevant for specific customers, resulting in product bloat and tension between the sales team and the product team.
So while you think you are listening to your customers, ignoring your vision can lead to a bloated product with too many features to maintain, eventually causing development to grind to a halt.
When do I need to review the product vision?
Whenever your product seems to be outside the market, whenever you add new products to or remove them from, your company's offering. Basically, whenever there is a new insight into the market you want to play in.
Another moment would be when the vision doesn't help your team anymore. This could be because the vision may be too vague or too detailed. Remember that the purpose is to help everyone in your company to make decisions as autonomously as possible.
Especially when you're still trying to find your market fit, your vision is subject to change. Your vision should be something you are strongly opinionated on but is loosely held.
You need a product vision. It's the basis of almost any decision anyone in the company makes that involves your product offering. You have to develop and maintain it and ensure everyone in the company knows and understands it. It'll make your product offering that much more coherent.