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Creating a Software Product Vision Statement

Posted on: November 14th, 2017 by Simon Swords

Photo of the Atlas Team creating a software product vision statement

A software product vision statement is the overall objective you are aiming for, your reasons for creating your software product.

It provides a known direction in an ever-changing world, acts as the software product’s compass, provides motivation when the going gets tough, and promotes effective collaboration.

What is a software product vision statement?


Your software product vision statement describes the core essence and overall objective of your software product and where your product is heading. It is your vision statement for new product development and it explains the higher purpose for why your product exists in the first place. It sets the direction for where your product is going and what it will deliver in the near future. It is also sometimes called a product owner vision statement.

As Joel Spolsky outlines in his blog post about product vision, he quotes an article by Jim Highsmith, who describes a useful way to figure out your product vision, which he calls Design the Box.

This product vision model helps team members pass the elevator test — the ability to explain the project to someone within two minutes. It comes from Geoffrey Moore’s book Crossing the Chasm, where it was originally introduced as an elevator pitch template.

Writing a software product vision statement


First, make sure that your key stakeholders, product sponsors and the product owner are in the room so you can work through the following structure together. It really is as simple as filling in the blanks to get your best product vision statement, before you even start to think about hiring a bespoke software development company for your software product.

Software product vision statement template

  1. For ______________________________ (target customer)
  2. Who ______________________________ (statement of the need or opportunity)
  3. The ______________________________ (product name) is a ______________________________ (product category)
  4. That ______________________________ (key benefit, compelling reason to buy)
  5. Unlike ______________________________ (primary competitive alternative)
  6. Our Product ______________________________ (statement of primary differentiation)

Download software product vision statement template

Software product vision statement example


When we built our HR software for small businesses – Staff Squared – this is the product vision that we created for it:

For a small company that needs to ensure they meet employment legislation demands and overall compliance, Staff Squared is HR software that manages onboarding, employee data and files, and time off in a web-based platform. This keeps businesses compliant with employment legislation and, in particular General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Unlike other services our focus is on compliance legislation specifically targeted at small companies.

Test your product vision statement as an elevator pitch


If you can’t pitch your product vision in 30 seconds or less, it isn’t ready for the outside world. Try again. Our Staff Squared product vision statement above is 64-words and takes about 20-seconds to tell our customers, it passes the elevator pitch test.

Why create a software product vision statement?


The software product vision statement is the core of your software project and is the basis upon which all of your software product decisions are made. Not only does the product vision inform your marketing activity, if applicable, it’s essential when you’re trying to answer product questions including:

  1. Should we incorporate this feature request from our customers? (Hint: it’s a flat out no if the feature request doesn’t fit your product vision)
  2. How should we prioritise bugs and change requests? (Hint: the ones that meet your product vision should carry more weight than those that do not)
  3. How do we measure the success of this software project? (Hint: delivering on the product vision statement is a good start!)

An effective product vision guides the whole team and aligns all stakeholders, so investing time on product vision statement creation is a very worthwhile investment.

Conclusion


Too many new-product software projects move from the idea stage right into the development stage with little or no up-front homework.

The results of this ‘ready, fire, aim’ approach is usually disastrous. Solid pre-development processes drive up a new software products success rates significantly and are strongly related to financial performance.

Here at Atlas, we recommend that you create your software product vision statement with your stakeholders, product sponsors and the product owner long before you start gathering software requirements or start thinking about who you are going to hire to build your software product.

Share your views on this article in the comments below.

Simon Swords

Simon Swords

Director

Managing Director

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