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Essential Techniques for Product Goal Setting and Planning

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Why Do Some Products Succeed While Others Fail? 

Ever wonder why some products become wildly popular while others disappear without a trace? 

In product development, clear goals and a well-defined roadmap are the keys to bringing successful products to market. This blog post focuses on the “Define” phase of product management, where we set the direction for our product’s development. We’ll explore key techniques that help product managers translate ideas into actionable goals and a comprehensive roadmap. 

But first, let’s take a step back. 

Product management is all about creating products that customers love and that meet business needs. It’s a multi-stage process, that typically involves four key phases: Discovery, Define, Develop, and Deliver. The “Define” phase which we’ll be focusing on here is where we take those initial ideas and begin to solidify the product’s direction before diving into development. 

By mastering the techniques you’ll learn here, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the world of product goal setting and planning.

Why Clear Goals and a Roadmap Matter 

Without clear goals and a well-defined roadmap, you risk: 

  • Wasting resources: Development teams can spend time building features that don’t align with customer needs or overall product vision. 
  • Missing deadlines: Unclear goals make it difficult to estimate timelines accurately, leading to missed deadlines and frustrated stakeholders. 
  • Product misalignment: Without a strong direction, the final product might not address the target market’s needs or miss key market opportunities. 

So, how do clear goals and a roadmap help? 

  • Improved team alignment: Everyone involved knows what they’re working towards, fostering collaboration and focus. 
  • Focused development: Resources are directed towards building features that truly matter, leading to a more efficient development process. 
  • Increased chances of success: A clear roadmap helps you track progress, measure success, and make adjustments as needed, ultimately increasing the chances of achieving your product vision. 

In short, clear goals and a roadmap provide direction, focus resources, and ultimately lead to a product that meets market needs and achieves its full potential. 

Essential Techniques for Product Goal Setting and Planning

A. Value Stream Mapping for Product Development 

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) helps you visualize the entire product lifecycle and identify areas for improvement. 

VSM essentially maps out the journey a product takes, from initial concept to reaching the customer’s hands. It breaks down the process into stages, highlighting any bottlenecks or delays that might be hindering your progress. Think of it as a detailed roadmap, through which you can track the flow of value through your development process. 

Here’s where the power of VSM lies: 

  • Identify Bottlenecks: VSM helps pinpoint those stages where work gets stuck, allowing you to focus on streamlining those specific areas. VSM reveals where work piles up, indicating a need for additional resources or process adjustments. 
  • Optimize Processes: By visualizing the entire flow, you can identify opportunities to improve efficiency. Maybe there are unnecessary handoffs, redundant steps, or delays waiting for approvals. VSM helps you eliminate these inefficiencies, ultimately speeding up development. 
  • Ensure Efficient Resource Use: VSM sheds light on where resources are being spent and whether they’re being used effectively. This allows you to allocate resources strategically and avoid wasting time and effort on non-essential tasks. 

By understanding the flow of value, you can optimize your workflow, eliminate waste, and ultimately deliver products faster and more efficiently.

B. Setting SMART Goals with OKRs

VSM helps us map the course, but we still need a way to define what “success” looks like for our product. This is where Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) come in. OKRs provide a powerful framework for setting SMART goals in product development. 

Here’s the breakdown: 

  • Objectives: Think of these as your ambitious goals, the “what” you want to achieve with your product. They should be clear, inspiring, and challenge your team to push boundaries. 
  • Key Results: These are the measurable metrics that define how you’ll track progress towards your objectives. They answer the “how” question – how will you know if you’re on the right track? 

The key to effective OKRs lies in their structure: 

  • Measurable: Key Results should be quantifiable, allowing you to objectively measure progress. Numbers, percentages, or clear benchmarks are essential. 
  • Time-Bound: OKRs typically have a defined timeframe, such as a quarter or a year. This creates a sense of urgency and keeps the team focused on achieving results within a specific period. 
  • Aligned: Most importantly, OKRs should be aligned with the company’s overall vision and strategy. Each product-related OKR should contribute to the bigger picture. 

Example of a Product-Related OKR: 

  • Objective: Increase user engagement with our mobile app. 
  • Key Result 1: Grow daily active users by 20% within Q3. 
  • Key Result 2: Average user session time to increase by 1 minute by Q3 end. 

C. The Power of Product Roadmaps

A product roadmap is your visual guide providing a clear timeline and plan for product features, functionalities, and releases. It acts like a shared document that keeps everyone on the same page, from developers to stakeholders. 

But there’s more to roadmaps than just a fancy timeline. Different types of roadmaps serve specific purposes: 

  • Feature Roadmaps: These focus on the individual features planned for the product, outlining their functionalities and target release dates. 
  • Release Roadmaps: These roadmaps zoom out, showcasing the bigger picture. They typically group features into planned releases and provide high-level timelines for each version. 

So, what makes a good product roadmap? Here are a few key ingredients: 

  • Clear Timeline: The roadmap should have a defined timeframe, whether it’s a quarter, a year, or beyond. This provides a sense of direction and keeps the team focused on achieving goals within that timeframe. 
  • Milestones: Key milestones should be highlighted on the roadmap, signifying major achievements or product launches. These milestones act as checkpoints, allowing the team to track progress and celebrate successes. 
  • Feature Dependencies: Not all features are created equal. Some rely on others to function properly. A good roadmap acknowledges these dependencies, ensuring features are developed and released in the right order. 

By creating and using effective product roadmaps, you can ensure your product development process is transparent, focused, and stays on track. With a clear roadmap guiding the way, your team can confidently navigate the development journey and deliver successful products on time and within budget.

The Power of Three: A Unified Approach to Product Success 

VSM, OKRs, and roadmaps might seem like separate tools, but within the “Define” phase of product management, they work together beautifully. Imagine them as three sides of the same coin, each contributing to a holistic understanding of your product’s journey. 

  • VSM as the Optimizer: By identifying bottlenecks and inefficiencies in your development process, VSM reveals areas for improvement. These insights can be directly incorporated into your OKRs, setting measurable goals for streamlining specific parts of the development cycle. 
  • OKRs as the Compass: Your OKRs, with their clear objectives and measurable results, guide the overall direction of your product. This focus on goals translates directly into the product roadmap, ensuring features and functionalities align with what you’re trying to achieve. 
  • Roadmap as the Action Plan: The product roadmap takes your OKRs and translates them into a concrete timeline. It reflects the optimized processes identified through VSM, ensuring features are developed and released in a way that meets your ambitious goals. 

This synergy is what makes the “Define” phase so crucial. By leveraging these techniques together, you gain a comprehensive understanding of your product’s potential and create an actionable plan to achieve them.  


The “Define” phase isn’t just about laying the groundwork; it’s about building a solid foundation for product success. By embracing these techniques, you can transform your product development journey from a guessing game into a strategic and collaborative effort.

And to truly supercharge your “Define” phase, consider leveraging our AI-powered Unified Agile Work Management Platform Prakya. Prakya with its intelligent design streamlines your work, automates tasks, and provides valuable data insights – all within a single platform. This allows your team to focus on what matters most: crafting innovative products that make a real impact. 

By combining the power of these techniques with the capabilities of Prakya, you can propel your product development process to new heights and deliver products your customers will love.