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Setting Up Clear Product Goal

Alberto Incisa

Jul 04, 2022

The most important aspect of the Scrum framework is the set of Scrum artifacts, but they're incomplete without the three commitments. Each artifact is associated with a commitment to provide additional quality and improve the transparency of the artifact.

In the case of the Product Backlog artifact, the commitment is the Product Goal. Creating a robust product goal is the first step to optimizing your product, which is why every scrum team must learn the ins and outs of it. Essentially, the product goal is the action you want your customer to perform upon seeing or using your product.

The effort doesn't end with creating a product goal; tracking it is also essential. In this case, companies can benefit from tracking and analysis services like June to monitor their product goal. Keep reading to learn about what a product goal is and how you can use June to track it.

Product Goal in Scrum

You may be wondering: "What is the goal of product design?". The Product Goal is a commitment attached to the Product Backlog artifact in Scrum. This goal defines the future state of a product or the long-term objective to be achieved with the product. Product goals can help scrum teams focus during their project and plan ahead of time.

The product owner is responsible for deciding the product goal and communicating it with the Scrum team. While sprint planning, the product goal should be clear enough that scrum teams can prioritize each task and item appropriately.

Each sprint in the project should only have one purpose: bringing the team closer to the end product goal in the quickest, most efficient, and most effective manner. In addition, the Sprint Review discusses details such as the progress toward achieving the product goal. It's also essential that the scrum team doesn't move on to the next product goal without completing or abandoning one.

It's true when they say, "Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product." These terms are often confused, but they're entirely different. The product goal is the ultimate destination, while the by-product is the inevitable result.

Here’s an example of a product goal and its product backlog;

Product Goal: increase user retention by 10% in Q1

Product Backlog:

  • Add 10 items to the website knowledge base according to SEO
  • Execute analytics tool within 2 months
  • Include a customer support bot on the website
  • Design and launch the incentive plan
  • Offer a 30% discount
  • Optimize the onboarding campaign

In this case, scrum teams can use the User Retention template from June to track this type of product goal.

Who Decides the Product Goal?

The product owner is responsible for deciding the product goal as they overview the product backlog. This is one of the main responsibilities of the product owner in the Scrum framework.

The Scrum Guide describes the product owner's job as "developing and explicitly communicating the Product Goal." The scrum team and its stakeholders rely on the product goal to provide context and purpose through a simple directional statement.

Product Initiatives

Product initiatives are efforts made by the scrum team to reach the product goal. A simpler way to describe them is the set of tasks that need to be accomplished by the scrum team to complete the product strategy.

These product initiatives are typically spread across various sprints before they help the scrum team reach the product goal. As a result, product goals are often confused with product initiatives, but the difference is quite stark.

While a product goal is focused only on describing the problem at hand, a product initiative is a long-term undertaking, spanning more than one quarter and promising success in the longer run.

Product goals and initiatives work together to ensure the team is working per the objectives and prevent diversions away from the bigger picture. They also help product owners communicate to their scrum team the importance of each task and how its completion will lead to long-term success. Lastly, they ensure that product resources are only used on activities that maximize the product's value.

Here are some examples of a product initiative:

  • Optimize the 30-day free trial for Q1
  • Strengthen security features in the next 5 months
  • Add 5 collaboration features for Q4

In this case, scrum teams can utilize the Feature Release template from June to track the progress of product goals like this.

Product Goal in a Sprint

One of the main questions about product goals is, "Can product goals change in the sprint?" Most of the time, the answer is no. Most product goals require multiple sprints to reach, which is why it isn't impossible to change the product goal in the sprint.  

However, the scrum team may find the product goal invalid or impossible by performing some work or research. In this case, the situational context and the scrum team's work environment influence the next step.

They may either stop the sprint with permission from the product owner or refine the product goal until it becomes valid or possible.

For example, a product goal in Sprint can look like this: Double average monthly sessions on mobile by Q2.

Product Goal VS Product Vision

The product goal is also often confused with the product vision. The main difference between the two factors is how far into the future they help a scrum team look. Product goals are long-term investments, but product visions are even longer.

That's because product goals help a business target its ambitions to achieve a certain product or service. Meanwhile, a product vision details how a certain product will develop and help the customer solve a problem or achieve an objective.

Here are examples of product goals and product visions to help you understand the difference:

Product Goal: Reach 10,000 new users by the next 12 months

Product Vision: Provide an intuitive product that solves project management issues for the support team

Product Goals in the Product Roadmap

It's easy to plan a single product goal. But when it's time to plan ahead, product roadmaps come into play. This makes it easier for scrum teams to stay on track with predefined product goals, each building on the previous one.

The first product goal is focused on creating an initial user base, while the second one acquires additional users. The third goal generates revenue, and so on. Unfortunately, the Scrum Guide does not mention utilizing a product roadmap to track product goals, but it's a common practice that scrum teams benefit from.

As a result, they can create an effective sales and marketing strategy that increases the team's productivity and efficiency. Losing sight of the initial product goal can result in losing users, which is why it's important to utilize a product roadmap.

In this case, scrum teams can use the Slipping Away Users template, which allows you to track when users quit or slip away from your product. You can even monitor when users are about to drift away from your product, so you can prevent the loss of a customer by making the necessary changes.

This template helps scrum teams identify areas for improvement and optimize your Product Backlog accordingly. As a result, they can perform the tasks necessary to reach the product goal in less time. Slipping Away Users displays measurements such as Last Event Received, First Seen, Last Seen, Total Events, and more.

June recommends using this template to track who stops performing certain actions since getting a new customer costs 5x more than keeping one you already have.

Product Goals and Product Backlog

The product goal is associated with the product backlog as a commitment. Product backlogs can get hard to manage, update, and prioritize, especially if the changes are only minor and the project is new. In this case, the best practice to keep in mind is to only add an item to the product backlog only if it contributes to the completion of the product goal.

How to Set Strong Product Goals

Setting the right product goals is crucial for scrum teams that want to turn their vision into an effective product. Here are a few actionable tips to remember that'll help you set a strong product goal.

Organizational and Product Vision

The first step for setting a durable product goal is, to begin with, organizational and product visions. Next, the scrum team should reflect on the original organizational vision to understand the product's place in the company.

This will help them understand how the product is helping the company complete the bigger picture, i.e., business goals. As a result, they can create a bridge that leads them from business needs to user needs.

Keeping both parties, the company, and the user, in mind is crucial, which is why reflecting on the organizational vision will help you create a product goal that benefits both parties. Here’s an example of an organizational goal you may keep in mind: Increase customer satisfaction by offering multichannel customer support.

Maximum Input

Every scrum team member must be on the same track when creating a product goal. Collaborating with your team is the only way of achieving a well-rounded product goal with minimum invalidities.

This collaboration isn't just limited to the scrum team but involves the stakeholders. Considering the stakeholder input will ensure that the scrum team is working according to key business objectives and metrics.

As a product owner, including your team every step of the way will result in a more authentic product goal and increase organizational awareness and a sense of ownership. As a result, the company can benefit from better team productivity.

Finally, utilizing user input is crucial, especially when it's time to focus on the data-driven aspect of your product goal. In this case, scrum teams can utilize analytics software to see how users interact with the product.

SMART Goals

Scrum experts have been stressing the importance of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals for a long time, and rightfully so. However, the truth is that this tactic is so famous because it works every time.

From the beginning of the project, scrum teams should have specific metrics that measure whether the product is valuable or not. It's also crucial that scrum team members are assigned deadlines, so the team can move forward with the project as time-effectively as possible.

Here are a few examples of SMART goals to consider:

Specific: Increase mobile app users by creating targeted social media campaigns.

Measurable: Increase mobile app users by 10,000.

Actionable: Increase mobile app users by creating targeted campaigns across Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.

Relevant: Increase mobile app users since mobile users tend to use our products longer and increase profitability.

Time-Bound: Increase mobile app users by 10,000 within the next 12 months.

SMART: Increase mobile app users by 10,000 by creating targeted social media campaigns across Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok within the next 12 months since mobile users tend to use our products longer and increase profitability.

Realistic Standards

Undoubtedly, underestimating your scrum team's potential and creating underwhelming product goals will get you nowhere; it never hurts to dream big. The product goal must be ambitious enough to entice customers, meet business objectives, and challenge the scrum team positively.

However, finding the perfect balance of ambitious and realistic can be hard; you don't want your scrum team spending months or even years on a project that's impossible to achieve in the longer run.

Not only do unrealistic product goals demotivate your team, but they also disappoint users and shake stakeholder trust. So, it's best to research the realism and probability of your product goal before pursuing it. Product engineers and marketing experts will give you the input you need to create a realistically valuable product.

User Prioritization

Lastly, but most importantly, the heart of your product goal should be user satisfaction, regardless of your definition of success or what your product offers. Scrum teams need to prioritize the user needs above all while working on the project.

In this case, it's crucial to learn what the user wants, needs, likes, or dislikes. The only way to ensure that is by being in continual contact with your users and tracking their activity on your product and web pages.

Analysis tools like June are the perfect solution to this situation, allowing scrum teams to get insights and real-time reports on what users like or dislike about your product. As a result, they'll be able to determine whether the user experience is in alignment with the original product goal.

For example, the Power Users template allows scrum teams to track which users love the product and what they love about it. This way, they can ensure whether their product goal is near completion.

Not only does this template help you track your power users, but it also helps you communicate with them. The template allows you to calculate the weekly and monthly users' curves and stick to your product goal efficiently.

Track Your Product Goals With June!

Scrum teams that want to set better goals must begin with the organizational vision, define their metrics to measure success, understand their points of leverage, and keep the bigger picture in mind. However, product goals only seem easy at the time of creation; the hard part is tracking them.
June makes this task easier for scrum teams by offering templates that help them monitor the progress of their product goals, determining how much time and effort is needed to reach completion. Sign up now to reach your product goals faster with June.

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