A quick and simple way to get a clear vision for a product to be developed is to use Roman Pichler’s Vision board as part of a product vision workshop. I won’t describe the contents in detail here as there are plenty of good posts about it elsewhere, my focus is more on how I go about completing the board using a collaborative workshop.
The product vision workshop can be used to help frame the vision for anything from a whole ecosystem or platform all the way down to a new product or even a single feature or screen.
My preferred method is to get 4-6 key stakeholders together with some of the tech team to collaboratively construct the vision board. Generally it’s best to set aside 2-3 hours, and use a room with lots of whiteboard space, lots of pens and lots of post-its!
In an enterprise organisation, often the software to be developed will replace an existing tool of some sort. I therefore tend to slightly change the normal structure as follows:
1) Discuss current system issues and limitations
This gives the stakeholders a chance to vent about issues that annoy them about the current system, and to get them out in the open. I find this has two advantage, it prevents issues and complaints about current tools from clouding the following vision session and it also provides a rich source of information on potential features, non-functional requirements, success factors, and a raft of other areas.
Get busy with the post-its during this section and write down everything that could be useful. I find this session provides a good starting potential feature set and a starting point for non-functional requirements such as performance expectations. This can also work if the current process is completely manual or even if the team is looking to exploit a completely new opportunity.
2) Target Group and Needs
In these sections we talk about potential users, for internal systems often these are departments rather than more persona based users, but I think that’s ok in a lot of cases. Needs help everybody understand who the users are, where they fit within the business (or externally). It can be helpful to the combine or split user groups if needs are the same, or if the needs of one group are very varied. The needs should be per target group. I also like to put some key environmental persona info alongside the groups (such as whether they are desk based, remote, mobile etc.)
Ensuring the stakeholders all agree on the value to the organisation can be critical to success. Ideally this should be one or two metric driven values which can be used to drive overall prioritisation of features and help the product manager ensure the team stays focused on the most critical aspects.
Finding ways to deliver value to the organisation and also meet your target users groups needs should be the number one priority when it comes too…..
4) Product Features
From the first section of the session you should have a good set of features, add to this through a group brainstorming exercise to identify potential opportunities which fall with in the union of user needs and business value.
Then take all your potential features, use some sort of grouping, such as an affinity diagram to distill this into the top 3-5 items which will define the product.
5) Vision Statement
As a final step, get the group to reflect on all of the discussion to date and identify words that they feel define what the product should be. Use these to get the group to sum up the product in a single sentence which can before the product vision.
A great way to extend this session further is to start mapping out the client journey or system process flow, or lead a collaborative UX design session to get people thinking about how the product might look and feel. I’ll talk about these in future posts.
I’d be interested to here your experiences with the product vision board in the comments below.