How to prioritize your product roadmap
Do you have a clear idea of what to build next and are you building the right features? Prioritizing your roadmap can be tricky and it's useful to use a structured approach to make sure you're spending your time and effort on the right things.
Follow these four steps to prioritize your work and assemble a product roadmap with your top priorities.
1. Gather product feedback & feature requests
The starting point for prioritizing your product roadmap is to gather all of your feature requests and product feedback in one place so that you can get an overview. You want to keep track of which customer has shared the feedback or requested a feature and also how many of your customers are requesting the same feature.
When you gather feedback, it's also important to understand the feedback and what your customers are really asking for. Ask questions to find out what the customer's use case is, why they are requesting the feature, and what the underlying problem is. You can also ask how important the feedback is to them. Once you know the details about the feedback, you can test your proposed solutions with these customers to make sure you're on the same page.
If you use a product feedback tool like Convas, you gather all your feedback in one place and know who has requested what and how many of your customers are requesting the same thing. You can also ask questions and communicate directly with the customers asking for a certain feature. Read more about feature request tracking with Convas.
2. Identify strategic improvements
Some product development does not stem directly from customer feedback but instead from the strategic direction that you want to take your product. Say, for example, that you want to improve your conversion rate from free trial to paid. In that case, you need to dig in to your data to figure out what the potential improvements could be. You probably already have a list of strategic improvements that you want to make, but that your customers are not asking specifically for.
3. Prioritize the product improvements & features
You should now have a nice overview of your product feedback with a good understanding of the solution to each feedback as well as a list of your strategic improvements. It's now time to prioritize these product improvements and features to make sure you're working on the most important things.
I suggest using a product prioritization framework to help you clarity what the most important things are. There are several popular product prioritization frameworks that you could use. The Value vs. Effort matrix is a good starting point. Other popular frameworks are Intercom's RICE framework or the MoSCoW method.
Value vs. Effort matrix
The Value vs. Effort matrix is a good starting point for product prioritization. The basis is that for each product feature, you rank the value to the customers & your business and the effort required to build it.
- Value. How much value will your customers get from this feature or improvement ? This is where the data that you gathered together with your product feedback comes in. Is this something that a lot of your customers are asking for? Is this important to your strategic customers? It's also important to tie the customer value back to the value for your business. Will it help you grow? Is it aligned with your product vision and strategic direction?
- Effort. This is how much effort it will take or how much it will cost it to develop and maintain the feature. One part of the cost is the time required to build the feature, but remember to consider the costs to the product and organization as a whole and how much it will cost you to maintain it.
Once you have scored the value and effort for each feature or initiative, you can map the results on a 2 by 2 matrix. It's up to you which scale to use when scoring the features. The important point is that the scale should help you differentiate between the features and rank them relative to each other, so you don't want to use something too simple. You could also skip the numeric scale and plot the features visually.
The matrix has 4 main quadrants that helps you prioritize:
- Yes - top priority. Anything in the top left quadrant (high value, low effort) are easy wins. Make these your top priority.
- Maybe. Projects in the "maybe" quadrants (top right and bottom left) can make sense to do. In the bottom left quadrant you have features that aren't likely to move the needle for you. In the top right, you have important projects but that could be too risky to take on.
- No. Stay away from anything in the "no" quadrant (bottom right). These are a waste of time.
4. Assemble your product roadmap
You now have a list of your top priority features and it's time to put them on a roadmap. Roadmaps for SaaS companies are typically timeline or time horizons based.
- Timeline roadmap. Shows your roadmap on a timeline with planned release dates (usually not specific dates, but months or quarters). Front has a public roadmap that follows this format.
- Time horizons roadmap. Shows your roadmap in terms of what is planned in progress and done (or some version of that). Our Convas roadmap follows this format.
Read more about different SaaS product roadmaps, tools and templates.
Once you have your roadmap, I suggest you share it with your team, customers & stakeholders to keep them in the loop on your progress. Your customers will love to see that you are listening to their feedback and you can close the customer feedback loop by letting them know when you launch something that they have asked for.
Convas can help you gather & prioritize your feedback and keep everyone in the loop with a product roadmap and product update announcements. Give Convas a try (we have a free plan to get you started).
To sum up
As you grow and have an increasing amount of feature requests and feedback from your customers, it can be challenging to prioritize your roadmap. Follow a structured process that takes both customer feedback and your strategic priorities into consideration, and use a product prioritization framework to identify your top priorities.
Plug: Convas, a feedback page for your company
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