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As a product manager, you know that managing requests and ideas is an important part of your job, but how do you know which ideas to prioritize? The answer lies in the idea management process. 

In this article, I will walk you through the steps of this process, so that you can start prioritizing your product ideas effectively. But before digging in, I'll review some valuable tips to guide you before you embark on the idea management process. I'll also cover some techniques you can use to manage ideas and feature requests for your products.

The Idea Management Process: Where Are You Going, Why, and How?

As a fellow product manager, I am always looking for ways to get ahead of the competition. One way to do this is to set up an idea management process, which will allow you to collect and assess ideas from all stakeholders, including customers, employees, and partners. By doing this, you can prioritize the best ideas and create a roadmap for success.

However, before you start to implement an idea management process, there are a few things you need to do first.

Define Clear Business Objectives and Product Vision

Business Objectives

Any successful business needs to have clearly defined objectives. Without a sense of direction, it can be difficult to make decisions that are in line with the company's goals. Every objective should be SMART—in other words, they should describe what you want to achieve, how you will know you have achieved it, why it is important, and when you plan to achieve it.

Product Vision

A product vision is a long-term, aspirational goal for a product or service. It should be something that is achievable but challenging, and it should align with the company's overall mission. The product vision should be inspirational and provide direction for the team. A product vision should be written in clear, concise language that can be understood by everyone on the team.

The product vision should be revisited and updated on a regular basis to ensure that it remains relevant and achievable. Ultimately, the product vision should be the North Star that guides the product team as they make decisions about innovative ideas, features, design, and development.

Clearly defined business goals and a product vision will help you to determine which ideas are worth pursuing and which are not. Without this guidance, it would be easy to get lost in the sea of Ideas. So take the time to define your North Star before setting sail on your idea management journey.

Create A Product Roadmap

Before you set up your idea management system, you need to make sure you have a clear product roadmap. This will help to ensure that all of your ideas are properly captured and considered. Additionally, the product roadmap will help to keep your team organized and focused on the most important aspects of the product. 

By following these steps, you can be sure that your product development process is efficient and effective. 

Now let’s get back to our main topic. If you’re new to the world of idea management, read on for our top tips to get you started.

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5 Tips To Get Your Idea Management Process Started

If you're just getting started with the ideation process, here are a few tips: 

  • Set up a centralized place for idea generation and collection. This can be an idea management software platform like Trello or JIRA, or something as simple as a folder in Google Drive. 
  • Make sure everyone on the team knows how they can submit a new idea and that they understand the process. 
  • Set up regular review meetings to discuss new ideas and make decisions about which ones to pursue. 
  • Use your product roadmap as a guide for prioritizing new ideas. Not every product idea will fit into your plans, but that's okay.
  • Use your idea management process to track feedback from users and stakeholders. This can help you make decisions about which ideas to pursue and which ones to ignore.

As a product manager, you need to have a process for managing ideas in place so that you can focus on building the best product possible. Now let's look at the overall steps of the idea management system.

Steps In The Idea Management Process

The idea management process is the key to ensuring that your product team is able to effectively prioritize requests and ideas. This structured process can be broken down into four steps:

1. Collecting Ideas

The first step in managing product ideas is to collect them from all stakeholders. This includes customers, sales teams, support teams, and even your own employees. There are a few ways to do this, but the most important thing is to make sure that you have a central place for idea submission, collection, and tracking. 

This could be a simple spreadsheet or even a dedicated idea management software tool. Once you have collected all of the ideas, it’s time to move on to step two.

2. Prioritizing Ideas

There are several techniques for prioritizing feature requests, such as using a value vs complexity matrix, the weighted scoring model, and the bucket approach (the “Kano” model), amongst others. The most important part is to be consistent with how you prioritize promising ideas that turn into features so that stakeholders can have a clear understanding of the process and product roadmap.

Applying multiple techniques will help you get different perspectives on which features should be prioritized. Further below, I have included a section elaborating on eight different techniques. Please keep in mind that you do not have to apply all of them, pick the most relevant for your specific situation and product and then focus on applying them regularly.

You might also like: 10 Best Product Prioritization Software

3. Implementing Ideas

After you have prioritized your ideas, it’s time to start implementing them. The best way to do this is by adding new features to your existing product roadmap, which should outline all the features and changes that you plan to implement in the coming months. It’s important to keep your roadmap updated as you move forward so that everyone is aware of the changes that are being made.

4. Tracking Ideas

The final step in the idea management system is tracking. This involves keeping track of which ideas have been implemented and which ones are still in progress. This will help you to see which ideas are having the most impact and which ones need further attention. You can make your life easy by using idea management software like Idea Drop or Brightidea. 

It’s also good practice to track customer feedback so that you can see how your product changes are being received.By following these steps, you can ensure that you have a successful idea management in place which enables your product team to effectively manage requests and ideas. To sum up by collecting, prioritizing, implementing, and tracking all ideas, you can make sure that your product is always moving forward.

8 Techniques For Managing Ideas and Feature Requests

The most difficult step of the innovation process is to decide which ideas to prioritize. Therefore, I have compiled eight relevant techniques to prioritize feature requests:

Quantifying User Behavior and Feedback

Customer feedback can help you decide which product ideas to focus on. You may get a good indication of what is most essential to customers by looking at the features or enhancements they request most frequently. 

At first, decide on a timeframe that you’ll be looking at regularly, i.e. per month or per quarter. Then identify which feedback sources you are going to use, this could be data from your customer service team, results of online surveys etc. Once you have that, you can start going through the data and record the results in a software or a simple spreadsheet. 

Once done, each feature request will have a count based on how often it was mentioned in the feedback sources. The highest count implies that this feature has the highest priority from a customer point of view and so forth. Rinse and repeat this process regularly.

The generated list is a great base for further discussion with your team to determine the required effort and realistic timelines for each feature in light of what’s already on your roadmap.

Value vs Complexity Matrix

The value vs. complexity model is a popular way to prioritize feature requests. This approach aids in the consideration of both the potential business advantage of a feature and the complexity and effort needed to create it. 

Features that are placed in the high value/low complexity category are generally “easy to fix” and make for a good starting point. Features classified as low value/high complexity are likely not the most important, so they should be given less attention. This method takes into account a number of factors when making product feature selections.

The Weighted Scoring Model

At the end of the day, it's all about prioritizing feature requests. One popular technique is weighted scoring, which assigns varying weights to various strategic benefits and compares them to costs. For example, you might give a higher value to features that increase client happiness or enhance revenue generation.

To prioritize features, you would first weigh the costs of implementation and operation against any risks. Then, you can assign a score to each feature request based on this information. This will help give you an idea of which features are most important to your business objectives.

The bucket approach, also known as the Kano Model

The Kano model is a popular tool for product managers when prioritizing features. It helps to ensure that the final product is well-rounded and meets the needs of the customer base. The Kano model categorizes features into three buckets - threshold, performance, and excitement. 

Threshold features are those that are necessary in order to sell the product. Performance features aid in increasing customer satisfaction. Excitement features are optional, but increase customer delight. The Kano model can help teams with various objectives keep a balance between all of them and produce a product that meets the needs of the customer.

'Buy a Feature' Technique

The "buying features" approach is a popular technique for prioritizing feature requests. The procedure is simple, but it may be a fun activity for your team to participate in. Begin by compiling a list of possible features, assigning each one a unique price.

Give each person a "currency" and have them choose the features they desire. Most people will spend all of their feature money on a single item, while others will spread it out over several features. Finally, you'll have a list of prioritized capabilities to work on.

Buying features can provide insight into how crucial elements and capabilities are to stakeholders and clients. It also allows for some degree of stakeholder participation in the decision-making process. Overall, buying features is a straightforward but effective approach to rank feature requests.

Opportunity Scoring

If you're unsure of which features to build first, opportunity scoring is a great way to sort them by importance. Opportunity scoring considers how important the feature is to customers and how satisfied they already are.

Customers are prompted to prioritize a list of features, which is then used to create a ranking of importance for each and assigned a level of satisfaction. This results in a list of features with high-importance ratings but poor consumer satisfaction. Product development teams can better fulfill client demands by focusing on these items.

Affinity Grouping

If you're not sure how to go about assessing and rating feature requests, affinity grouping is a common approach that has shown to be quite successful. This involves putting people with similar interests or goals together so that everyone may collaborate and make the finest decision possible. Affinity groupings work best when done as a group activity since it allows for more input from more individuals. 

The first step is for team members to write down their ideas anonymously. Once there are enough ideas, similar ones should be grouped together. The team then ranks or votes on each group in order to make a decision. This process of affinity grouping helps businesses assess customer needs more effectively and decide which features to implement.

Story Mapping

Anyone who has ever launched a new product knows how difficult it is to come up with as many ideas as you have time to implement them. That's why it's critical to have a method for classifying feature requests. Story mapping, which is a visual technique for constructing your product backlog and defining sprints, is one of the most popular approaches.

To accomplish it, make task-oriented user story cards and group them together into categories that follow a step-by-step procedure. Then prioritize each group and break down the workflows into either releases or sprints. Story mapping is an excellent technique to break large ideas down into practical objectives. It can assist you in determining what your minimum viable product (MVP) will look like and which releases will come after it. So, if you want to prioritize feature requests, story mapping is definitely worth looking at.

Over To You

The idea management process is a critical part of the product management cycle, and it's important to learn how to prioritize product ideas in order to make the most impact. In this article, I've walked you through eight different techniques like 'buying a feature', opportunity scoring, affinity grouping etc. for doing just that.

All of these methods are effective ways to assess customer needs and determine which features to implement first. If you're looking for more information on feature prioritization, building great products, and all things product management, be sure to subscribe to The Product Manager newsletter