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Opportunity Canvas Template For Innovation & Problem Solving

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How To Use An Opportunity Canvas To Innovate [+Template]

Never stop improving your product - use Coda’s opportunity canvas template to list all new features you believe your audience will find beneficial.
This template was built with Coda, the all-in-one doc that brings words, data, and teams together. Play with the template below or copy the doc to save your edits.

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👆 Click plus sign below each canvas “quadrant” to add item 👆
In a perfect world, coming up with new features for your product would be easy. Everyone would have ideas and they’d all be great.
But, sadly, that’s just not the case, is it? Sometimes, after you’re done and your product has been out for a while, it can be hard to come up with new ways of building something out. Talking to your customers can help. However, sometimes that can only get you so far, especially if you don’t have the right guidance when talking to customers.
Luckily, we know all the tricks to help you get beyond any blocks you may be feeling when it comes to adding new features to your products.

👉 Get started with this opportunity canvas template.
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What is an opportunity canvas?

An opportunity canvas is a project management document created by Jeff Patton (who’s also responsible for the user story map) that’s used to help product owners and teams brainstorm new product ideas or features. The idea is to get everyone (product owners, product managers, stakeholders, and product team members) talking about what customers are dealing with, how they’re currently solving their business problems, and to figure out how your product can help them manage these pain points. The more people you include in this conversation, the stronger the shared understanding of your customer’s problem will be.
You want to be able to answer certain questions (outlined below) and ideally come up with metrics you can track as you’re solving these problems for your customers. The opportunity canvas template gives you a repeatable formula that you’re able to follow to consistently add features that your customers are going to use to your product.

Opportunity canvas vs. other business strategy tools

The biggest difference between opportunity canvas and other strategy tools is that the opportunity canvas helps you come up with new features, upgrades, or opportunities for an existing product. It’s a way to improve an existing product by having a conversation about your customers and their needs.

Business model canvas

The is a tool that can be used to create new business ideas. They help you identify factors like business opportunities, the structure of your business, and revenue streams. It’s ideal for those who are looking to start a new company.

Lean canvas

The is a simplified version of the business model canvas. It’s designed to give startups a way to quickly identify their value proposition and iterate through it.

Product canvas

The is a template that helps come up with useful solution ideas that include features your customers will use. It’s essentially what you’d use after you’ve used either the business model canvas (or lean canvas), but before you’re ready to add features to your product. It's a tool that helps you decide your product visions and roadmap.

5 questions to answer when performing opportunity analysis

Opportunity analysis is all about asking questions. Ideally, you’re having conversations with your customers all the time, so you have a pretty solid understanding of what they’re looking for and why they want these solutions. That’s always a good place to start. The more you talk to your target audience, the better you understand the opportunities that exist within your business. If you’re having these conversations in a vacuum, without customers present, you risk making a lot of assumptions about their desires.
With that in mind, here are the questions you’re going to need to answer during this process.

1. What are your customers’ pain points?

You should already have a really strong understanding of this since it forms the basis of your product, but you’re not looking for the basic answer. What you need to know to properly answer this question in the opportunity canvas is what pain points do our customers still have? What aspects of the process aren’t you addressing, what areas may have come up since you first launched your product, what is the competition doing that you’re not doing that helps similar solve customer problems?
Getting to the heart of this will show you areas where you can expand your product.

2. How are customers’ points currently being solved?

Chances are, your customers have some cobbled-together solution that kind of works, but isn’t ideal to help them solve these unaddressed pain points. If you take the time to learn how these user problems are being solved, you’ll be able to create a solution that does the same thing, but isn’t cumbersome or sketchy (or worse, a spreadsheet).

3. How will your solution benefit your customers?

The answer to this question is almost always going to be some version of it saves them time or it saves them money. Often, it doesn’t matter which, people are always looking to save both. However, there are going to be times when you need to know the benefit, so you can create a solution that is faster, for example, than the current approach.

4. Which success metrics will you track?

This is, of course, going to depend on what your ideal outcome is, but you’re going to be looking at standard metrics like how many people are using the new solution (if it’s a solution that only a certain percentage of users need, how many of them are using it), how fast are users adopting the solution, what’s the financial impact of the new feature. Basically, what you’re looking for here are metrics that tell you whether the solution was successful or if it left something to be desired.

5. How will your customers adopt your solution?

The answer to this question should focus on what you’re going to do to make sure that customers know about this solution (better known as an adoption strategy). It’s not enough to add a new feature and expect people to show up. That rarely works. You need a plan to let your customers know that the new feature exists and it’s something that you need to start thinking about before you're done adding the feature. If you don’t, you’ll probably find your adoption metrics are low and it’s going to look like no one’s interested in the feature (even if it’s something that every single one of your customers desperately needs).

👉 Get started with this opportunity canvas template.
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After you copy this template, you can start utilizing this free opportunity canvas template for identifying new opportunities to meet your customers’ needs.

How to use Coda’s opportunity canvas template to improve product development

Step 1: Share this opportunity canvas template with your colleagues

After copying this template, click on the Share button in the top right so that you. and your colleagues can fill out the opportunity canvas together.

Step 2: Fill out opportunity canvas

On the page, you’ll see a quick description of each canvas quadrant (click the arrow to expand the dropdown). You can then click on the plus sign under each quadrant to add items to the opportunity canvas.

Opportunity canvas FAQs

When should you use the opportunity canvas template?

The best time to use the opportunity canvas is any time you want to add new features. If you’re not sure what that looks like, those are moments like when your customers are specifically asking for certain features or you notice that the competition is doing something that you’re not.
But, if you’re having regular conversations with your customers (and you should be), it could also be that you’re noticing patterns around pain points that they’re bringing up. These patterns could be places where they need to jump out of your product to do something and then jump back in or they could be that would be nice to have.

What are the benefits of the opportunity canvas template?

The big obvious benefit of the opportunity canvas template is that it gives you a structured way to identify the unmet needs of your customers. Templates let you methodically work through the process, rather than guessing what information you’ll need or what questions to ask. Best of all, they’re refinable, which means you can improve the process as you work through it.

What are the three ways to identify a new opportunity?

The three main ways that companies can identify an opportunity are by observing trends, identifying gaps in the market, and solving a problem. With an opportunity canvas, you’re looking for trends from your users and from your competitors, for example. You need to look both internally and to the market, in general, to figure out what the best new opportunities are (and to help learn more about what isn’t going to work).

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