Product Plan of Record (AUTHORED and COPYRIGHTED by Dan Lykken and the team at Meridian Venture Catalyst)
Customers buy products/solutions, not Strategic Positions. The bridge from the conceptual level of strategy to the concrete, tangible level of the product is the Product Plan of Record (PPR). The PPR translates the ideal product vision of the Strategic Position into a set of concrete, credible, and implementable steps that can actually be bought into by customers. The PPR serves as a guide for the company over the coming 18 to 24 months. It provides a framework for planning marketing, sales, and engineering activities, and allows the company to develop and allocate resources in a proactive manner. It is a document that describes in the customer’s terms what will be built, and when: it is a timeline, with a set of customer requirements and features sets for each product release.
- Is an important bridge between the company and the customer. It tells the customer what will be available and when, and provides a framework for building a long-term relationship.
- Unifies engineering, marketing, and sales. All three areas of the company use it to plan their activities and work with each other. Since the PPR must be an evolving document, it serves as a basis for conversations that enable the product and the company to improve.
- Is a key sales tool. It will be used to engage customers in conversation about their needs and the future of their business, and will show that the company is proactive in anticipating customer needs. The feedback from these conversations will be of immense help in improving the product.
- Is a key engineering tool, because it defines the features the product will have and when they must be completed. Note, however, that the PPR is not an engineering plan. The PPR does not describe exactly how the product will be built, what resources it will take to build it, or what the design will be. An engineering plan’s purpose is to get the product built on schedule and on budget; a Product Plan of Record’s purpose is to make sure the right product gets to the right customer at the right time.