Working Backwards

Working Backwards Template

Use our free Working Backwards template to determine whether a new product or feature is worth building.

About the Working Backwards Template

Are you looking for a way to find out if a new product is worth building? Or perhaps you have a new product in mind, but you’re not sure how to get it from start to finish. The Working Backwards template could be just what you need. The working backwards method allows teams to work in reverse. Starting with the finished product in mind, this method will help you visualize the steps you need to take to bring it to life. It’ll also give you a chance to figure out if the product is even worth launching in the first place.

What is the working backwards approach?

Working backwards is a framework for thinking about a product without a detailed roadmap. Your product team starts with the customer in mind to launch your product in a way that truly serves them.

Amazon pioneered this approach to product development. It’s based on one of their leadership principles celebrating customer obsession. The method requires anyone with new product ideas to articulate the objective as clearly as possible. These ideas can take many forms, from a blog post to a press release. The only requirement is that it envisions the product or feature launch as if it were happening today.

The model also requires product managers to write objective documents to sell their idea internally. If the idea impresses leadership, the next step is to map out what the team needs to launch.

What is a Working Backwards Template?

The Working Backwards template allows teams to outline their product development journey. Templates can vary, but they generally all include the following information:

  • What the final product/outcome will be. This is the starting point for the framework. It’ll outline what the final product will be or where you plan to finish your product launch — for example, a product press release.

  • The available opportunities. This stage will help you figure out if the product is worth pursuing.

  • Challenges and solutions. Here, you’ll outline any hurdles you’ll need to overcome to get shareholders on board and keep customers happy.

  • Roadmap. You’ll create a high-level product roadmap to visualize product development.

  • Task assignment. You can now assign tasks to bring your product to life.

Using a Working Backwards template is helpful for various reasons. You don’t have to worry about starting from scratch with a ready-made template. You can simply input relevant information into an intuitive and user-friendly format.

It also helps teams collaborate. Teams can access the template online, and add comments, share information, and collaborate virtually, which is especially helpful for remote teams.

Create a working backwards framework with Miro

Miro’s online whiteboard is the perfect canvas to create and share a working backwards framework. Select this Working Backwards template, then take the following steps to make one of your own.

1. Start with a challenge statement. A challenge statement outlines a problem you’re facing and how you plan to solve it. Ask yourself what the challenge (or opportunity) is for your customer to create a challenge statement that keeps the customer in mind (otherwise known as a customer problem statement).

2. Identify the ideal future state. Talk with your team about new business models and structures that you could use to make new major products possible. There’s no right answer, so feel free to use sticky notes to identify the possibilities.

3. Map actions from your ideal future state to the present day. How long will it take to get from where you are now to your ideal state? Answering this question will help your team have realistic conversations about resourcing, processes, systems, and implementation.

4. Plan your next steps. Once you know the steps needed to get to your ideal future state, you can build a backlog of tasks. Each task can be prioritized, and ownership assigned to a team member.

What to include in your Working Backwards template

Working Backwards templates don’t always have the same information. It depends on who your customers are, any challenges you’re facing, and the product or service you want to launch. Ideally, you’d aim to describe the following:

  • Who’s your customer? Identifying your target customer allows you to make informed decisions about your product and how to market it effectively. Use our buyer persona template if you need a hand.

  • What is the customer opportunity or challenge? How will your new product or service help customers overcome their challenges? Knowing this will make sure that your product or service fills a gap in the market.

  • What is the most important customer benefit? What is the main benefit for customers when using your product or service? If you want to offer your customers something that will benefit them, you need to know their top priority.

  • What are your customers’ needs and wants? What are your customers searching for? Again, knowing this will ensure you produce something that meets customer needs.

  • What should the customer experience look like? Launching a new product or service can impact the customer experience, so keep this in mind throughout the process. Use our customer journey map to better understand the customer experience.

Embrace this document as a living, iterative team resource.

When to use the working backwards approach

There are a few situations in which you might use the working backwards method. Let’s take a look at what they are:

  • To solve a customer problem. Working backwards encourages product teams to first solve a customer pain point to inform their product development.

  • To see if a new idea is worth it. If you’re not sure whether a new product or feature idea is worth the time investment, working backwards can help you test it. The framework can also shift your thinking to expected results rather than implementation.

  • To see things from the customer’s point of view. The framework will help you stay focused, see things customer-centrically, and communicate in plain language before you build anything.

  • To visualize challenges and opportunities. Using this model, you’ll see all the hurdles and opportunities you might come across throughout the process. This helps you identify areas of growth and prepare to overcome these challenges.

Working Backwards Template

Get started with this template right now.

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