But what do you do with it all? How do you decide what makes it onto your product roadmaps?
A few ideas based around our own roadmapping strategy, as well as tactical application of your SmartLists, are listed below.
- Find your strategy
- Specify goals to focus on
- Who are the stakeholders?
- Define your roadmapping process
1. Find your strategy
What kind of SaaS are you? What's your value and mission?
Do you do bespoke work for each of your accounts? Is your mission to help customers? Or to be the #1 sales platform for pharmaceutical companies?
Features that don't align with your strategy and mission are easy to spot when you're clear about what your goals are and what's important to you as a company.
For example, at Receptive we're often asked to increase the complexity of our product when it comes to managing feedback. This directly contradicts our strategy of easing the workload of our users.
If we took strategy out of the equation, and based our decisions purely on the data, then we’d implement that request. We’d make our product more complex. Pretty soon, our current customers would complain that their job is now tougher, and they’d consider moving elsewhere. The prospects who asked for the feature in the first place would probably realize that they’d prefer a simpler approach and start looking elsewhere.
In the long run, mistakes like this would add up. It could be a disaster. We might not recover from that. By the time we’d reverted back to the simpler system, we might have lost all our customers.
But if we were to use our strategy to guide our decision making, then we could avoid all of that. We’d immediately be able to dismiss the feedback that didn’t align with our vision.
2. Specify goals to focus on for the next 2-4 quarters
Instead of constantly adding new big features to your product, set efforts around certain goals for each quarter to help you fill in any gaps.
These goals could be something along the lines of reducing churn or closing more enterprise deals within a specific sector or location.
Once you have your goal, you can then segment the data to really dig down and figure out what you should be doing in order to achieve that goal.
In the example of closing enterprise deals, you could look at what your current enterprise customers want and consider building those features in order to entice other potential enterprise customers.
By focusing on specific goals, your organization can align around them, making it easier to achieve them.
3. Who are the key product decision makers?
Find out who needs to be involved in roadmapping meetings and make this list official. See more on engaging your stakeholders below.
Common teams who are most involved with roadmapping are leadership, product, development, and sales. If you have a smaller organization, then you can probably invite everyone into these discussions.
By reaching a conclusion together, it'll be so much easier to have your teams buy in to what you're trying to do. The trickle-down effect will ensure that everyone is on the same page, and ready to work towards your strategy and your goals.
4. Define your roadmapping process
How you determine what makes it onto your roadmap is going to depend on a variety of factors including how your company works, how large your teams are, how many products, etc.
The one thing that's going to be consistent is your need for a defined process to avoid product decisions being made on the fly or when urgent things come up.
Monthly feature request Fridays
One process incorporates monthly "Feature request Friday" meetings.
Here's an overview of how this could work:
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Throughout the month as new features come in:
- A designated member of the product or customer success team triage feedback as it comes into Receptive.
- All features are set to the status “Awaiting Feedback” in order to gauge demand and collect additional feedback from your colleagues & customers.
- Obvious duplicates are merged at this stage.
The week of the "Feature request Friday" meeting:
- The Monday of the upcoming meeting, the Receptive Customer, Internal, and Prospect SmartLists are exported and sent to all attendees. These reports contain feature requests sorted by their Receptive value.
- Attendees are asked to review the list for clarity so no time is wasted during the meeting.
On Feature Request Friday:
- The meeting should have a strict time limit (60 mins)
- Lunch is brought in for all attendees
- The meeting is started by reviewing the highest value features from each SmartList to determine “yes, no, or maybe”. In order to determine if and where a feature fits on the roadmap they ask:
- Does this align with our strategy?
- Does this fit into our current initiatives and areas we want to optimize?
- Is it important to the success of those initiatives?
- Do we need more information?
- Is this something our competitors are doing?
After the meeting:
- A member of the product team updates the features in Receptive:
- Unreviewed items are left in Receptive as "Awaiting Feedback" for another month.
- Reviewed features are tagged as “Reviewed” so they aren’t included in the next month’s meeting.
- Features that are marked as a “maybe” are left in Receptive without the “Reviewed” tag so the feature can gather more feedback before a decision is made.
- Features that are marked as “no” are declined, with the reason in Receptive. All team members & customers who are subscribed to these features are automatically notified and can add additional use cases for re-review.
- Features that are marked as “yes” are moved to the “Planned” status which adds them to the Receptive roadmap, JIRA (if applicable), and notifies all customers and team members who requested that feature.
Whatever your process is, there are countless benefits to having one in place including:
- Huge time savings
- Improved transparency & efficiency of your roadmapping process across the business and your user base
- Peace of mind knowing your Release Log & Product Roadmap(s) are automatically updated as requests change status
- Customers & team members can rely on your Receptive data because it's prioritized & always up-to-date