Product Strategy Deliverables - For-Profit
While there is no pre-existing information to fully answer your question, we've used the available data to pull together key findings. Product strategy documentation for large companies is often proprietary information and public documentation is somewhat scarce. However, some companies provide limited access to their strategies or product roadmaps. Asana, Slack, and Microsoft provide some public documentation or overviews of their strategies, while Google provides limited documentation at its Cloud Next conferences, though some of this information is considered confidential. Apple's secretive product development process is guided by highly guarded documentation.
Below you'll find an outline of our research methodology to better understand why information you've requested is publicly unavailable, as well as a deep dive into our findings.
I have searched extensively through company press releases, corporate financial documents, and business and marketing industry sources. In addition, I looked for case studies for specific companies, such as those listed in the request details. However, my findings suggest that companies are not eager to share their product strategy documents publicly.
One reason for the lack of solid examples of corporate product strategy documents is that 67% of companies only share these documents with internal employees, while 19% have a mix of internal and public roadmaps. Only 2% make their product strategies entirely publicly available.
Also, due to the size of some companies, product roadmaps are often associated with specific products or business lines, rather than the company as a whole. Microsoft, for instance, offers a roadmap for specific products to help customers understand the capabilities of their products within a specific sector.
As my colleague alluded to in our previous research, product vision, product strategy, and product roadmaps are intertwined. Vision is the overarching goal, while strategy examines the who, what, and how of product development. Product roadmaps are the tactical plans for how to bring the strategy into reality. The podcast, "This Is Product Management," offers advice on developing product roadmaps, noting that it should illustrate the product strategy, what products are needed and when they will be built, who is responsible, and the themes or priorities.
While limited data was available, an overview of the product strategies, along with a few product roadmap documents or visuals, have been compiled below for several companies.
Jackie Bavaro, head of product management at Asana, which provides project management tools for companies, offers insight into how Asana builds its product roadmaps. Formerly, Bavaro worked for both Google and Microsoft, and she notes the two companies had very different product strategies, with Microsoft being a top-down structure and Google being bottom-up. Asana uses a mixed approach that they call the Pyramid of Clarity, which focuses on purpose (identifying goals), plan (understanding the steps), and responsibility (knowing who is responsible for each task). The Pyramid of Clarity starts with the company mission statement at the top and drills down through strategy, company objectives, product objectives, and finally, the "Key Results" or KRs. Each KR connects directly to one of the objectives, which adheres to the corporate strategy in support of the overall mission.
One of their idea-generation processes is called "Voice of the Customer," or VoC, which asks each customer-facing and business team to create a list of the top ten product requests. Those requests are then compiled to generate a company-wide top ten list. In 2017, app performance topped the list and drove the company's investments.
Just prior to their launch in 2014, Slack founder Stewart Butterfield wrote an article outlining their product vision strategy, which incorporated several main ideas:
• "Build something people want"
• "Marketing from both ends"
• "Sell the innovation, not the product"
• "Who do we want our customer to become?
In a 2016 video interview, April Underwood, VP of Product at Slack, an enterprise team collaboration platform, discusses the company's product roadmap. She notes that their product strategy ties directly into their mission, which is, "To make people's working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive." Every idea is examined in relation to this mission, which is the company's north star. Slack uses product themes in its product roadmap. The themes are communication, productivity, and transparency.
Slack uses thousands of developers, and it freely shares its "platform product roadmap" for its developers, updating it on a regular basis. It shows the near-, mid-, and long-term plans, as well as ongoing improvements and recent releases.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella instituted a "mobile first, cloud first" product strategy for the company, and a 2016 conference suggests that strategy is still underway as they focus on digital transformation. Their strategy involves helping client companies to:
• increase the productivity and independence of employees,
• optimize business processes and
• digitize or “transform” products."
While I found few public documents for Microsoft, the company recently released a product roadmap for the addition of Microsoft Skype for Business capabilities to Microsoft Teams. The full document reveals their planned rollout of messaging, meetings, and calling features for the product.
In 2017, Google released its product roadmap for its G-Suite products. It shows their plans in a calendar format with Google Calendar receiving special attention in Q4 2017. According to one commenter on this post, this information may have been shared at this site in violation of Google's confidentiality agreement, so that may be why Google's product strategies are not more readily available online.
Like my colleague, I found no public documentation from Apple, which is a highly secretive company. However, a couple of articles from the Interaction Design Foundation and The Next Web look at the product development process at Apple, based on information found in the book, "Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired-and Secretive-Company Really Works." These articles may offer additional insight into Apple's product strategy, which is quite unique.
Design is at the center of everything Apple does, and the design department is allowed to set its own budget. The design team for a new product is separated from the rest of the company to maintain secrecy around the product. They have weekly Monday meetings to review every product in development.
The Apple New Product Process (ANPP) is the guiding document that drives product development. While not publicly available, it is an elaborate, detailed checklist defining the product creation stages, who works on each stage, who is responsible for the final product, and when the product will be finished. New products are often redesigned upon completion, a process that can take 4-6 weeks.
A product roadmap, called Rules of the Road, is developed to plan the product launch. This is a "top secret document that lists every significant milestone of a product’s development up until launch." A directly responsible individual (DRI) is associated with each milestone to ensure it takes place. Anyone who leaks or loses the Rules of the Road is immediately fired, making access to this document a mixed privilege.
In conclusion, limited public documentation for the product strategies and roadmaps for large companies is available. However, Asana, Microsoft, and Google have a few documents and overviews circulating in the public sector.