How to Make Product Development Decisions Based on Feature Requests
Making the right decisions when it comes to product development is hard yet super important. If you’re a SaaS product manager or owner, you will know exactly what I am talking about. These decisions are hard because there are so many things to consider: end users, the overall vision of where your product is headed, internal stakeholders and growth metrics. They are however important because first of all, you constantly need to improve your product to avoid standstill and secondly, resources especially when it comes to development are usually scarce so the decisions need to be well-informed.
What are feature requests?
Making informed product development decisions is exactly where feature requests come in – as one major factor to take into account when building a product roadmap. Generally speaking, a feature request is a type of user feedback in which a customer informs you about what they expect from your product. There are various types of feature requests:
1. Bug reports
Pain points discovered by users, who lead to malfunctions, issues or crashes in your product. Read more on this topic and find out about what bugs to look out for in one of my previous blog posts.
2. Product improvements
We believe that the people who use our product daily often have some of the best ideas for us. This is exactly what we say when we mean product improvements – when users tell you that they generally like your features but have some small tweaks they’d like to see to make the product work even better. These are requests to consider when you’re making product development decisions.
3. New features
When users come up with totally new ideas and add-ons to your existing product, we would categorize them as new feature requests.
Prioritize feature development and manage requests effectively
Even though product management is more of an art than a science, there are a few tips to for managing feature requests. Always keep in mind that users who choose to help you are the ones that want to see you do better, so don’t forget to keep them posted.
1. Identify one centralized system to collect, organize and manage incoming requests.
One of the biggest problems is that feature requests come in from various sources (e-mail, social media, live chats and so on) and need to be entered into a project management tool manually. At Gleap we have our own feature request board allowing both the team and users to upvote, comment and prioritize. Even better, our widget provides your users with a very intuitive way to submit requests and you can embed the Gleap roadmap directly in your website.
2. Engage your users.
Users that choose to help you are the ones that want to see you do better, keep them posted and let them know they have been heard. Heard users are happy users. With Gleap, every user who is subscribed to a feature request automatically receives a notification if you comment on it or change its status. Super easy. This way you can create a sticky environment that users love and build real relations.
3. Prioritize features and incorporate the board in your product meetings.
What’s the easiest way to make sense of all the incoming requests? Here’s how we deal with it. In our product meetings we look at all the requests that have been submitted through Gleap. In raking the feature requests, we consider three main points: 1) What’s our vision for Gleap and where do we want to be headed with new features? 2) What are the most popular user requests according to comments and upvotes that came in through Gleap? 3) Which product improvements are pressing and maybe even fairly easy to implement?
Once we’ve prioritized according to the three questions above, we bring in another formula. We measure the impact the new feature or improvement would have on predefined business key metrics and divide it by the effort it is going to take the development team to implement the changes. By the end of our regular product meetings, we then get a score for improvements and features to realize.
4. Drive growth.
At Gleap we put a lot of effort into keeping track of product development efforts. This is why we have a public feature request board on our website and, of course, provided by our product. Introduced feature request voting and roadmapping into our product development cycle, has helped us drive growth and has allowed us to build real and close relationships with users.