Product Management Canvas – Product in a Snapshot

Product Management Canvas (PMC)

The Product Management Canvas (PMC), is a strategic management and entrepreneurial articulation tool. It allows one to describe a product having the highest return on investment versus risk.

This is different from Product Model Canvas or Roman Pichler’s Product Canvas.

Where Does Product Management Canvas Fit?

Let us understand the Product Flow. I have talked about it earlier in the Hackathon: From Idea to a Product in a Day post.


Using Product Management Canvas

To summarise the flow diagram:

Using Elevator Pitch & Product in a Box, we describe the product we want to build. However, no product exists in a vacuum and is part of an ecosystem. We then layout the Product Ecosystem that enables the key product. The product is then described using the Product Management Canvas.

A Product Management Canvas then informs the process of Epics. Adding a business case to these we arrive at a Product Backlog. Each item in the Product Backlog can lead to one or more stories. When these stories Go Live and the hit the market, in the spirit of build-measure-learn, we learn and periodically do the Product Backlog Grooming.

The Elevator Pitch & Product In A Box, (Lean) Business Model Canvas, High-Level Products Layout and Product Management Canvas are explained in the blog post above.

Epics, Product Backlog, Stories and Build-Measure-Learn are standard terms that are described as part of the Agile process.

I think this sits one step before Roman Pichler’s Product Canvas and used to plan and describe a product, rather than track the agile product creation/development.

Understanding The Product Management Canvas

The canvas started as a checklist for Product Managers to ensure they have not missed any aspect of Product planning. However, it was always aimed to capture the current state of an evolving product. Thus, Product Management Canvas should be used to communicate across various groups and departments to ensure all have the same picture of the product.

Using The Product Management Canvas

Using Product Management Canvas Steps

The suggested flow is:

  1. Idea
  2. Market
  3. Customer Segment
  4. Business Value
  5. Features
  6. Metrics
  7. Evangelism
  8. Visual Identity
  9. Go To Market
  10. Key Resources
  11. Risks

Now let is look at each section in detail:

Product Management Canvas (PMC)


We start with describing the original problem or opportunity that the product addresses. It can be a unique need, a dormant need (we are creating the market) or aspiration (of the user/customer) that needs to be addressed.

Once the above is stated, it is important to connect it what the idea of the product and state how it addresses the above.


Start by stating the market size (defined as the market volume or the market potential). VCs will want this to be a very big number. Big enough to accommodate you and all your competition.

The state the market opportunity your product addresses from the whole market size. This should be a more realistic number that should allow you sufficient growth so as to allow you to give investors a good rate of return.

A product never exists in a vacuum. There is an ecosystem of partners that enable it. We should note all key partners (data suppliers, data consumers, channels, SDKs and so on).

What’s fun without any competition? It is important to note competition and track them. If you have analysed competition in detail, you can add the link to that document. My thoughts on how to do Competition Analysis.

Customer Segment

Identifying if the product is B2B or B2C is sometimes obvious. But going one level deeper is important. (does my B2B target Startup, SME, Business Houses, MNC, etc. or does my B2C target BPL, LMC, MC, UMC, HNI, etc.) is important.

Does my B2B target Startup, SME, Business Houses, MNC, etc. or does my B2C target BPL (Below Poverty Line), LMC (Lower Middle Class), MC (Middle Class), UMC (Upper Middle Class), HNI (High Networth Individuals), etc.)?

Also important is to identify Early Adopters, Influencers, Recommenders and Innovators who try something new.

Business Value

Large organisations that create a lot of products need to ensure that there is a product – organization fit. This would involve making sure that it fits in tot established ecosystems, reuses tools used, etc and does not create whole parallel infrastructure requirements.

The product – market fit is very important and needs to be articulated crisply.

There are many revenue models available and many times the same product will have multiples of them. State the considered revenue models in this section.

Cost Analysis is a complex task but having a broad idea of the cost of producing the product that reflects the pricing model is recorded. Even when the aim is to invest in seeding the product, it is important to state and communicate the revenue – cost ratio.

It is important to state the key Regulatory & Compliance items. These should not slip through cracks of day-to-day tasks.


It is important to state the value propositions / USP and communicate it uniformly. Not every differentiation is a USP, nor should it be. Along with USP, the other key features that set us apart, make usage simple or make us better than competition should also be noted.


We all talk about success metrics. But before a product is successful there are some metrics that are minimal a product should achieve. These should not be ‘not meeting success metrics’, but independent ones.

Eg: while achieving an MAU of 1M is the success for your chat app, the number of messages exchanged is not growing at the same rate as user adoption is a failure metric.

Failure metrics are important as they tell us how key hypotheses could be wrong and it is time to reassess them and re-learn and re-build.

Viability metrics are good to have to make sure we are on track to success.


Product evangelism is, as Guy Kawasaki put it years ago, “selling the dream.”  It’s helping people to imagine the future, and inspiring them to help create that future.

Many things need to fall into place for an Evangelist to be effective. This section offers a checklist of essential items need to enable an evangelist.

This includes an elevator pitch, relevant content generation is a content strategy to keep it updated, uniform terminology across all departments and collaterals, SEO strategy so content is geared to show up in right searches, right brand assets, and social media presence.

Using all possible social networks is not the right approach. Choose and state ones that are relevant to the product, the audience and manageable by the team.

Visual Identity

This section offers a checklist of essential items need to establish a visual identity.

Product name, logo, icons, brand playbook, presentation/docs/stationery templates, product docs templates, Social Network assets (cover picture, etc.) and display ads assets.

Go To Market

This section offers a checklist of essential items to formulate an effective go to market strategy.

In the case of a new product, time of launch is an important date/period. Product Manager should initiate and collaborate in the launch strategy & related collaterals, describing sales and product delivery channels, positioning & promotion strategy, identify and help reach out to decision makers, influencers & recommenderssales collateral, marketing collateral, user support docs and training collaterals.

Often a product leads to changes in processes and people. The product manager has to think about a change management template.

Key Resources

Stating key resources is important as it allows a product manager to track them. This includes licenses (eg: SSL licenses as anybody can forget to renew on time like this, this and this), 3rd party platforms like SDK, analytics tools, etc.


State the known shortcomings and assumptions made. This helps plan the build-measure-learn better.

Product managers need to be paranoid about the product getting disrupted. Disruption Readiness is important to consider by identifying processes and methods that can be all be replaced in one go.




The Edge of Product Management: Talk at Institute of Product Leadership

Product Management Talk Institute of Product Leadership

I gave a talk to the students of Executive MBA at Institute of Product Leadership, Bangalore on 19th Nov 2016. It was a conversation around Product Management, industry practitioners approach to it and what’s new in this domain.

I also shared some new ideas I am toying around with and sought the feedback. It was a lively discussion.



Product Backlog


I propose a method to build a Product Backlog, how to record a feature that has business value clearly quantified and how this fits into a project inception.


Backlog Definition From Agile Alliance:

A backlog is a list of features or technical tasks which the team maintains and which, at a given moment, are known to be necessary and sufficient to complete a project or a release:

  • if an item on the backlog does not contribute to the project’s goal, it should be removed;
  • on the other hand, if at any time a task or feature becomes known that is considered necessary to the project, it should be added to the backlog.

These “necessary and sufficient” properties are assessed relative to the team’s state of knowledge at a particular moment; the backlog is expected to change throughout the project’s duration as the team gains knowledge.

The backlog is the primary point of entry for knowledge about requirements, and the single authoritative source defining the work to be done.

Not That Backlog

Various terms exist for a backlog being used in Agile development. Based on scope / tradition, terms Story Backlog, Feature Backlog, Epics Backlog, Development Backlog and at times Product Backlog too are used.

I will refer to these as Story Backlog so I can differentiate it with the Product backlog I am introducing in this write-up.

Story Backlog Definition From Mountain Goat Software:

The agile story backlog in Scrum is a prioritized features list, containing short descriptions of all functionality desired in the product. A typical Scrum backlog comprises the following different types of items:

  • Features
  • Bugs
  • Technical work
  • Knowledge acquisition

Story Backlog Definition From Atlassian:

A story backlog is a prioritized list of work for the development team that is derived from the roadmap and its requirements. The most important items are shown at the top of the story backlog so the team knows what to deliver first. The development team doesn’t work through the backlog at the product owner’s pace and the product owner isn’t pushing work to the development team. Instead, the development team pulls work from the story backlog as there is capacity for it, either continually (kanban) or by iteration (scrum).

Product Backlog

A Product Backlog is prioritized features list, containing short descriptions of all functionality desired in the product, with a business value for each feature clearly quantified along with source of the feature request / inspiration.

Product Backlog Card

A take at what a Product Card can look like:

Theme / Module
Action – Expected Result / I want to – So That / Feature / Inception time Epic
Value Ranking
Success Metric (to judge value delivered)
Failure Metric (to trigger a re-learn / re-analyze)

I am still not sure if Priority would still make sense given that Value Ranking is there. The reason I have added it is because Priority represents the perspective on person who is creating this card and Value Ranking is a quantitative analysis based on weightage. Value Ranking is a kind of check on the ‘gut feel’ or ’emotional’ Priority.

I think Source is important. We should link back to the CRM entry, the social media post, a market study, email, etc that lead to creation of this. It is important to refer to that original content which can be referred to as-is in future and considered as ‘interpretation free’ source which a ProMa used.

Scoping Product Backlog Card

How much work is a feature? There are some questions that a ProMa should ask to give BAs, IMs, Dev a good idea of breadth of work involved. There is, always, more to a feature than just implementation. Look at the suggested list to get an idea what I mean here:

Time Is a GTM time identified?
If yes, date?
Collaterals Does it need marketing collaterals?
Does it need sales collaterals?
Does it need support collaterals?
Does it need user collaterals?
Change Management Does it need change in process?
Does it need change in people & behaviour?
Does it need change in how users interact?
Does it need change in tech?
Control Does it bring in regulatory & legal aspect?
Does it bring in un-handled regulatory & legal aspect?
Does it need extra/new licenses?
Does it get covered by existing licensing model?
Security & Safety Does it need extra security focus?

A yes on any of these, will affect the scope of work and for folks other than the Devs. It is important to look beyond the functionality during implementation.

Prioritizing Product Backlog

Quantifying Product Vision

A feature can be seen to provide / contribute to one or more of following values at various levels:

  • BAU
  • Strategic
  • Competitive
  • Collaborative
  • Revenue
  • Cost

Based on the vision, these six can be given various weightage.

Eg: 1/ A product like say ‘Am-Behind App’ is playing catch up on feature parity with competition, the weightage can be:

BAU           10%
Strategic     10%
Competitive   40%
Collaborative 10%
Revenue       20%
Cost          10%


2/ A product like say ‘Am-Expensive App’ is focused on reducing capex, the weightage can be:

BAU           10%
Strategic     10%
Competitive    5%
Collaborative  5%
Revenue       20%
Cost          50%


3/ A product like say ‘Want-2-Breakfree App’ is focused on growing by usual and innovative methods, the weightage can be:

BAU           25%
Strategic     30%
Competitive   40%
Collaborative  0%
Revenue        5%
Cost           0%


and so on. This given a quantitative representation to your product’s vision. This should not change too often. Changes to it will change the ‘value rank’ of a feature as we will see below.

However, it is expected to change given the Build-Measure-Learn nature of ProMa. The change will drive a new priority against which the Product Backlog can be re-prioritized.

Quantifying Value

Starting with asking some key questions around these vision directions.

BAU Does it address key market?
Does it add to the USP/ Key Value Prop
Strategic Does it open up new market / opportunity?
Does it offer significant competitive advantage?
Are early adopters identified?
Competitive Does it allow us to catch up with specific competition (eg: feature parity)?
Does it allow a ‘we-too-have-it’ comparison against specific competition?
Collaborative Does it help “free to use” ecosystem?
Does it help “paying to use” ecosystem?
Cost Does it bring cost benefit?
Revenue Does it enable potential revenue uplift?
Does it lead to revenue uplift indirectly?
Does it lead to revenue uplift directly?

The answers can be Yes or No and quantified as 1 or 0. A Yes will lead to a value of 1 * weightage. We can add up all the values and arrive at a value rank.

Eg: For the product ‘Want-2-Breakfree App’, a feature has been requested that allows it to address a similar need but in different domain. With this vision weightage:

BAU           25%
Strategic     30%
Competitive   40%
Collaborative  0%
Revenue        5%
Cost           0%


This is how feature analysis and value rank can look like:

BAU Does it address key market? Yes 25
Does it add to the USP/ Key Value Prop Yes 25
Strategic Does it open up new market / opportunity? No 0
Does it offer significant competitive advantage? Yes 30
Are early adopters identified? Yes 30
Competitive Does it allow us to catch up with specific competition (eg: feature parity)? Yes 40
Does it allow a ‘we-too-have-it’ comparison against specific competition? No 0
Collaborative Does it help “free to use” ecosystem? No 0
Does it help “paying to use” ecosystem? No 0
Cost Does it bring cost benefit? Yes 5
Revenue Does it enable potential revenue uplift? No 0
Does it lead to revenue uplift indirectly? Yes 0
Does it lead to revenue uplift directly? No 0

Now let us see for another feature. A feature has been requested that allows it to analyze the response via various marketing channels. This is how feature analysis and value rank can look like:

BAU Does it address key market? Yes 25
Does it add to the USP/ Key Value Prop Yes 25
Strategic Does it open up new market / opportunity? Yes 30
Does it offer significant competitive advantage? Yes 30
Are early adopters identified? Yes 30
Competitive Does it allow us to catch up with specific competition (eg: feature parity)? Yes 40
Does it allow a ‘we-too-have-it’ comparison against specific competition? No 0
Collaborative Does it help “free to use” ecosystem? No 0
Does it help “paying to use” ecosystem? No 0
Cost Does it bring cost benefit? Yes 5
Revenue Does it enable potential revenue uplift? Yes 0
Does it lead to revenue uplift indirectly? Yes 0
Does it lead to revenue uplift directly? No 0

So, the later feature should be prioritized higher in the Product Backlog.

Product Backlog and Inceptions

How does a Product Backlog fit into our Inception? Here is my earlier blog post on this: Product Management During Project Inception


Product Management Role in Project Inception Feature

Never Alone

This started with a lunch time discussion with Sriram Narayan few months back. It got re-triggered by a question by Kartik Kannan “How do ProMa figure in Inception Process?” Thanks to Priyanka Kapur and Anantpal Singh Saluja who became first user of this method while creating a pitch for a client.

Product Management Role During Project Inception


There have been some question on how introduce Product Thinking and Product Management role during Project Inception. I and few other colleagues have been discussing theProduct Management role (ProMa) topic a lot.

As of today, this is how I see the flow. This flow is heavily influenced by experience on one day Product Management workshop that have attended by over 100 folks till now and various inceptions I have attended.


We follow the same visioning as we do in Inception. However, when we do epics, we convert them into a Product Backlog. Each Product Backlog will lead to multiple stories. What is different in a Product Backlog is some quantification of business value it delivers and metrics on how to measure it.

When stories go live and get consumed by users, we can measure and learn. This learning is brought back as part of analysis and grooming on the Product backlog (not Story / Development Backlog).

Re-prioritization of Product Backlog can affect the stories that picked up next.

More on this in coming days as it gets ironed out. Including what does a Product Backlog looks like.

Five Buckets Model for Product Management


Inspired by The Five Competencies of User Experience Design by Steve Psomas,  ‘Five Buckets’ – Explained by Jonny Schneider and 5 Buckets of Business Analysis by Jiangmei Kang, I created a version for Product Management.

The 5 Buckets Model for Product Management

The Five Buckets is a model to describe the various capabilities of a Product Manager. This model list out important capabilities and suggests them to be competent in a subset of capabilities based on what their focus / interest is.

The 5 Capabilities of Product Managers (ProMa) identified are:

Five Buckets of Product Management


  • Rallying opinions around the Product value
  • Active listening
  • Evangelism
  • Articulation of value
  • Connect Business, Users, Techies and be their advocate in Product decisions
  • Establish common language
  • Fill the communication gap
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Conflicts resolution
  • Jedi Mind Tricks
  • Elevator pitches
  • Quips, anecdotes, story telling
  • Personal leadership
  • CxO level conversations


  • Take inputs from various sources and synthesize them into coherent vision
  • Build Product Strategy
  • Product Design, Innovation, User Research keeping inputs and behaviors in mind
  • Work with Business Analysts, Experience Designers, Developers, stakeholders, contributors, builders, consumers, etc.


  • Roadmapping
  • Track and Manage the Delivery Progress
  • Manage and Prioritize the Product Backlog

Business Acumen

  • Sustainability of the business based on the product
  • Business case for ideas/product/innovations/incremental innovations
  • Pricing
  • Market scoping
  • Market research
  • Market size
  • Market opportunity
  • Product – Organization fit
  • Product – Market fit

Domain Knowledge

  • Ramp up at needed pace to get sufficient Domain Knowledge
  • SME or strong Design background or strong Development background

Some Key Thoughts

  • As with other versions, everyone has the combination of two or more capabilities. Nobody can be expert in all five areas.
  • Influencing is a basic and key competency for ProMa to be effective.
  • Prioritization (roadmapping, tracking, etc) and Synthesis (gather inputs and make sense of conflicting demands) are key day to day activities of a ProMa guided by right Business Acumen (business value of anything that crosses them).
  • For situations where Domain Knowledge is important, being an SME helps. Else, as a Generalist, ramping up to have sufficient knowledge of domain works.

Speaker Deck

Thanks to fellow ThoughtWorkers Sachin Sapre, Nagarjun Kandukuru, Kartik Narayanan, Vijayalakshmi K R, Kshama Tikmani and Manish Kumar for the feedbacks at various stages.

From Project Team To Product Team


1. I wanted to highlight one comment from Sriram Narayan blog: ‘Program and project teams are temporary organisations as compared to product teams.’

This is very important change needed. We need to think of a Product as continuous effort rather than a delivery bound effort.

2. Differentiate between Development Backlog (the traditional meaning on Backlog in Agile) with Product Backlog. Product backlog is all requests for features and updates that may come from Sales, Competition Analysis, analysis of the Delivery Team itself, etc. The Development Backlog comes from Stories.

Once differentiated, share it with the team keep adding to it and encourage the team to contribute to it and thus to think beyond stories.