Evaluating Product Refinements
Most product teams have adopted the practice of periodic retrospectives. These leverage the experience of your team to identify areas for improvement of our product and processes. When considering enhancement requests, think product refinement, not just enhancement.
While traditional retrospectives are helpful, these are mostly us talking to us. We need to bring in new customer insights to drive our product strategy. Beyond in-bound requests, smart product managers reach out directly to customers to better understand product usage and where the product fails to meet customer expectations. Using market feedback, what features should be improved or created to ensure future growth?
Product managers get requests for new functionality from customers as well as sales and support teams. Sometimes it seems as if we’re running a “made to order” software factory. But new ideas aren’t necessarily good ideas.
We need to evaluate ideas and feature requests in the context of our product strategy. What problem does this address? Will it generate more sales or increase customer retention? Does it help us compete? Does it increase customer satisfaction?
Beyond requests, we must also evaluate the health of the product. What areas have technical debt? Is it time to update the data model or convert multiple tables into one?
Periodically, evaluate product refinements around these areas:
- Does this help customers?
- Does this help align with strategy?
- Does this help sales teams and buyers?
- Does this help developers and support teams?
And one more,
- Does this mess with the competition?
It’s important to evaluate and refine your processes over time. Likewise you need to evaluate and refine your product over time. Not just features; refine the health of the product strategically, competitively, and technically.