What criteria is evaluated before determining if a request or idea is submitted to product? When it is submitted, what is the prioritization process?
When evaluating what products to prioritize, you’ll want to consider several factors:
- Mission Alignment: Does this addition to the product portfolio support the company’s mission, and what you’re trying to accomplish?
- Opportunity Size: What’s the TAM? Will this product expand the addressable market by solving customer needs in adjacent or new markets? Does it expand your value proposition for existing customers, driving upsell and/or retention? Or does it close a competitive gap?
- Business Impact: What’s the primary objective of this product initiative? Which topline KPIs will this move the needle on for the business?
- Customer Impact: Will this addition to the existing product portfolio address a distinct customer need, pain point, or expectation? Is it something they’ve been asking for? Does it increase the perceived value of your product and/or make it stickier?
- T-Shirt Size: Is this an XS or XL effort? How much time do you estimate the build will take, and does the team have the capacity for it? Matrix the value against the complexity — less complex efforts that provide greater value are your sweet spot.
Whether you’re part of the product organization or not, try to approach prioritization as a partnership versus a transactional request process. This will allow you to evaluate the proposals potential more holistically, and bring your product stakeholders along on the decision making journey.
Before putting together any idea, know what the overall business priorities are and what specific goals and KPI’s the company aims to deliver. The stronger you tie your idea to those outcomes, the more likely they will be prioritized. Every company has a different process for prioritizing, but this is generally what they will weigh:
- Business impact. First, quantify the size of the opportunity. Companies want to dedicate resources to ideas with the highest impact. Make sure you define the problem you are solving, the proposed solution, any assumptions you are making and a realistic picture of the impact your idea will make.
- Value vs. effort. Every company is resource constrained so it’s important to define the requirements needed to execute on your idea. For big ideas or those with large unknowns, I sometimes suggest breaking the idea down into the smallest level of effort to prove that the undertaking is worthwhile (ie. a quick win) before embarking on the full idea.
- Potential risks. Some businesses have risks they specifically avoid and others they are more willing to take on. That’s not to say that you should avoid risky ideas but you need to address them head on so the company can weigh whether they believe those risks are merited and the potential benefits outweigh the risk.
- Likelihood of success. People need conviction that your idea will succeed. Understand what capabilities you have in-house and are good at. Typically, ideas that are built off of core competencies will be easiest to prioritize because there are less unknowns. If additional expertise, infrastructure or capabilities are not readily available, make sure to note who/what/how you will acquire them or have a plan to address the key barriers to success.
I believe that every idea and request can be valuable, and at Wistia, we've worked hard to foster a culture where product ideas and feedback are openly shared. Of course, there's always room for improvement, but we strive to make feedback visible and welcome.
It's important to keep in mind that sometimes what seems like a great idea could actually be a bug (this happened to me recently) or something that's already being evaluated. You never know when your feedback could be the missing piece to a larger puzzle.
Prioritizing all of that feedback can definitely be a challenge. The key here is to align your priorities with your OKRs. I'll also note that essential user experience requirements should always be a priority (and ideally these should also be reflected in your OKRs so that it's never a question)
Beyond looking at your OKRs, tools like User Voice -- or any product ideas forum -- can be a helpful way to quantify and prioritize ideas based on customer feedback. Ticket volume can also be a great way to quantify the importance of an idea or piece of feedback. If a particular point of friction is causing significant support costs, it's definitely worth prioritizing.