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How to Craft an Effective Enterprise Product Strategy

How to Craft an Effective Enterprise Product Strategy

A product strategy is a high-level plan for keeping your team aligned and working on the right things. In the absence of a strong strategy, product leaders risk wasting development resources, launching the wrong products and features, and losing the faith of customers. It is a crucial artifact for any product-led organization.

When it comes to an enterprise product strategy, the stakes are even higher. Here, product managers are dealing with multiple product lines, a complex network of stakeholders, and customer personas with various needs. However, by weaving the principles of a strong product strategy with the specific challenges and opportunities of the enterprise domain, product teams can set themselves up for success.

Enterprise Product Strategy vs. Traditional Product Strategy

Enterprise product strategy introduces additional layers to the traditional product management process.  Here are the fundamental distinctions:

  • Target Audience: Enterprises target large organizations and businesses as customers. These clients often have complex needs, requiring highly customizable and scalable solutions. The decision-making process in these organizations is usually lengthy, involving multiple stakeholders, and the product must effectively meet the needs of everyone involved.
  • Scale and Complexity: Enterprise products are designed to efficiently scale and support the operational needs of large organizations. They require seamless integration into complex ecosystems, often necessitating specific customizations to align with particular workflows, compliance mandates, and security measures.
  • Sales Cycles: Enterprises have longer sales cycles due to the detailed evaluation processes of potential clients. The strategy must account for prolonged negotiations, pilot programs, and the customization needs of each client.
  • Regulatory Compliance and Security: Compliance with regulations and ensuring data security are paramount in enterprise contexts, especially within tightly regulated sectors such as finance, healthcare, and government.
  • Integration and Ecosystem:  Effective management of enterprise products requires an in-depth understanding of the IT landscape, including the ability to integrate with existing systems like ERP and CRM platforms, alongside customized internal tools.

Key Components of a Strong Enterprise Product Strategy

At Productboard, we have six building blocks for an excellent product strategy: 

  1. Well-Defined Audience: Identify precisely who your product is intended for, including targeted segments and those you choose not to pursue.
  2. Current Context: Articulate the present product experience and establish a flexible timeline for realizing your vision.
  3. Actionable Initiatives: Outline specific actions for achieving your product vision, especially focusing on features or services that set you apart.
  4. Measurable Outcomes: Set key performance metrics and identify significant lagging indicators that reflect broader business impacts.
  5. Clear Language: Employ concise, understandable language to make the strategy straightforward and unambiguous.
  6. Market Trends: Recognize both current and forthcoming market trends and competitor actions to ensure your strategy stays relevant.

While these foundational elements apply across the board, there are specific challenges and considerations when it comes to crafting an enterprise product strategy that we’ll dive into below.

Effective Management of Multiple Product Lines

In the enterprise context, product managers are tasked with crafting a unified product strategy across a suite of products. This strategy should encompass:

  • The market positioning of each product, evaluating their current status and competitive performance.
  • The interrelationship among products to prevent overlap and leverage mutual advantages.
  • The allocation of resources across various product lines to maximize the overall performance of the portfolio 
  • Planning for the lifecycle of each product within the portfolio, including strategies for growth, maturity, and eventual discontinuation.

This holistic approach ensures that each product not only aligns with but also enhances the broader strategic goals and objectives of the organization.

Strong Customer Segmentation

Great product managers excel not just in identifying the overarching needs of their entire user base, but in discerning the unique requirements of specific groups within it. This ability to segment is especially crucial in an enterprise context because large organizations and businesses have multifaceted needs. One enterprise client can have different personas within it, so without a strategic approach to segmentation, the enterprise product strategy risks missing its mark.

Effective customer segmentation serves as a compass for guiding product roadmap decisions. It illuminates the features and enhancements that are most valuable to critical customer segments, ensuring that product development efforts are aligned with the needs that truly matter. Moreover, recognizing diverse customer segments allows product teams and stakeholders to customize their messaging, educational content, and promotions to address the unique concerns and priorities of each group.

Product management tools like Productboard let you define segments based on cohorts you’ve defined in your product analytics solution like Amplitude or Mixpanel. It helps you see what features are most highly requested by your new users, veteran users, power users, or at-risk users. 

For an enterprise product strategy, you’ll also want to segment at the level of companies — for example, to zero in on the distinct needs of your Enterprise customers, or those from the Media industry, or Aerospace companies that have purchased more than 500 paid seats. With Productboard’s dynamic customer segmentation, you can do just that. Get started prioritizing based on the needs of specific customer segments defined by data you’ve brought in from Salesforce, or other CRMs. 

A Focus on Cross-Functional Collaboration

The complexity and scale of enterprise product management mean that product managers must work directly with clients, executives, sales, marketing, customer support, and even finance and legal departments. Given the extensive network of stakeholders and customers, the capacity to manage these relationships and unify all parties around the product vision and strategy becomes increasingly critical.

Keeping everyone informed and on the same page requires a combination of regular updates and the use of a purpose-built tool like Productboard that is designed to align the entire organization around all things product management. With Productboard, you can transparently share customer insights, the “why” behind each planned product or feature, as well as roadmaps with just the right amount of detail for each stakeholder. It simplifies collaboration when it matters the most.

Here are some more tips for better cross-functional collaboration:

    • Learn What Drives Stakeholders: All teams across the organization have their motivations and goals. To develop empathy, make the effort to learn what drives your stakeholders. This is an essential soft skill that will help you figure out how to communicate in ways that folks across the organization will hear, appreciate, and understand. 
    • Involve Stakeholders Early and Often: Uncover fresh insights from multiple perspectives and get buy-in early to ensure that significant resources, time, and work don’t go to waste. Some ways to do this include establishing regular meetings with customer-facing departments, sharing relevant roadmaps with the right level of visibility, and having regular roadmap presentations and Q&As for stakeholders.
  • Lead With Customer Insights: Go the extra mile to provide visibility into your tradeoffs, decisions, customer insights, and more. What were some of the most difficult decisions to make? What inputs helped you arrive at your final decision? At the end of the day, it’s about working with stakeholders both in and outside your team around a shared plan that everyone is bought into.

The foundation of a robust enterprise product strategy lies in understanding the complex needs of your diverse customer base, fostering effective cross-functional teamwork, and leveraging the right tools to bring your strategic vision to fruition. By embracing these principles, product leaders can ensure their teams remain aligned and primed for success in the competitive enterprise arena.

Learn more about product strategy examples for practical application and tips. To learn more about how Productboard can help you craft a strong enterprise product strategy,start a 15-day day trial or request a demo.

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