What is the best way to manage both a roadmap and a backlog?

Background - I'm a product manager and I'm having trouble managing our backlog for a product which has many stakeholders, customers, bugs, 1-off operational feature requests, and large strategic initiatives (larger features). The product and tech team can hardly keep its head above water with the bugs and operational support let alone the new feature requests.

What is the best way to manage this backlog? I'm coming to the realization that a backlog and roadmap should be separate but I'm having a hard time tying the two together in a view for executives.

What is the best way to show that we're drowning?

We currently use JIRA and Confluence for most 'project management' but am willing to venture to other tools if they'll help.

Hi there. Nice to meet you - there’s a lot going on there but what you describe is a very familiar situation to me! This was such a huge pain point in my last software company, that we built Receptive to solve it.

I’ve addressed each of your comments below:

“Background - I'm a product manager and I'm having trouble managing our backlog for a product which has many stakeholders, customers, bugs, 1-off operational feature requests, and large strategic initiatives (larger features). The product and tech team can hardly keep its head above water with the bugs and operational support let alone the new feature requests.”

This is such a hard situation to handle - totally agree. Receptive gathers prioritized feature requests from all the stakeholders you have mentioned. Our reporting then segments all the data so you can see exactly what’s important for each group so you can make data-driven product decisions. More information here. It’s vital you get a good process in place and start to gather all of these requests in one place so you can act on all the information you are receiving.

“What is the best way to manage this backlog? I'm coming to the realization that a backlog and roadmap should be separate but I'm having a hard time tying the two together in a view for executives.”

Yes, I totally agree. These should be separate. With Receptive, all prioritized feature requests are gathered in one place for you then you can manage requests really easily. As you move a feature to “Planned” for example, it’s automatically added to your product roadmap. Basically, the entire process is automated taking all the manual work off your plate. There’s a video about workflow available here.

“What is the best way to show that we're drowning?”

Do you have a manager or someone in the leadership team you can report to? There’s no way you should be dealing with all this on your own. Sounds like it’s time to get a strong process in place. If you harness the feature request data properly, it will drive your companies growth.

“We currently use JIRA and Confluence for most 'project management' but am willing to venture to other tools if they'll help.”

JIRA & Receptive is a perfect match. See here. Receptive’s JIRA add-on is a 2-way integration and it takes minutes to set-up. This has had huge benefits for us. So cool being able to change the status of a feature to “Planned” then having the integration handle the rest. It gives us seamless communication between product & development and the PMs especially love how they always know what the development team has released.

Would love to talk further about how we can help. You can contact me on hannah@receptive.io

Good luck!

The original Quora post can be found here.

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