For years product managers have been stuck managing our most important decisions in spreadsheets and project management tools.

Meet your new Features board. It's designed to offer the right balance of structure and flexibility so you can confidently decide what to build next:

  • Capture and organize your feature ideas
  • Surface the most promising ideas: sort & filter by strategic criteria
  • Prioritize what to build
  • Plan when to release it
  • Monitor each feature's status as it progresses through discovery & delivery

Here's how it works. 🎥

Key takeaways

Feature organization

Tame your unwieldy backlog of hundreds (or thousands) of feature ideas by adding them to a product outline (hierarchy). We've found it best to organize features by the user needs they address. That keeps everyone focused on the purpose of each idea.

Of course, you can outline your product however you'd like. And some choose to group features by the interface or technical component they belong to. But it'll work best if your outline stays relatively stable over time, rather than grouping features by short-term projects, milestones, or initiatives you may be working towards.

Once your outline is complete, you'll have an organized hierarchy of all the things your product does, with all of your ideas for enhancements neatly nested within. PM bliss!

Surface promising ideas

Deciding what to build next typically boils down to answering two questions:

  • What do users need most?
  • What best supports our strategy?

We can start answering these questions by adding data columns to our boards that represent helpful data and prioritization criteria. Columns can be shown, hidden, or customized using the configurations bar at right.

One column that will be especially helpful at this juncture is the User impact score, which lets you zero in on the features that best address user needs. It's an auto-calculated score based on how many users have expressed a need for a certain feature, weighted by how important it is to them. (We'll get to how feedback is categorized on the Insights board later.)

By arranging features as a list and sorting by User impact score, you'll quickly see which features are most needed.

Apply filters to recalculate your score based only on recent feedback, or only those requests deemed critical.

You can even see which features have been requested by certain customers or companies.

Drivers represent strategic objectives you're working towards and can be used to score each feature's strategic importance. 

Examples include:

  • Driving user acquisition
  • Driving user engagement
  • Improving platform reliability

Once you've scored features based on how well they support key drivers, you can sort and filter them by a driver. To incorporate all drivers into a single score, use the Prioritization score. You can even customize how each driver is weighted and opt to divide by effort to isolate which features are low-hanging fruit.

Prioritize what to build when

Great! So you've surfaced some interesting ideas and you've noticed some trends in the types of ideas you've surfaced. Maybe you'd like to develop a number of them in parallel as part of a new onboarding experience, or maybe you'll tackle a series of features that all relate to seeking some important security certification.

Use initiatives to group complementary features that support a common objective – whether that objective relates to meeting some user need or executing on some business strategy.

To nominate a feature for an initiative, just indicate its priority – signifying how important it is for driving that initiative's success.

If you're ready to indicate when you'll aim to make these features available to users, you can add them to an upcoming release. Releases can represent either the time features will be made available, or when their official marketing launch will take place.

Plan releases

If you've already added some features to releases on a preliminary basis, you'll now want to fine-tune your release plans as you receive complexity estimates (considered against the team's capacity).

In addition to referring to the effort field signifying complexity, use additional prioritization criteria to determine which features could be pushed to a later release.

If your team adheres to continuous delivery rather than set releases scheduled in advance, you may a Kanban view, monitoring the flow of features through various phases as they approach delivery and then launch.

To mark a release complete, click on the Release Flag to change it's status. By default, the completed releases will now be removed from your view. Filter by only completed releases with the Status filter.

Monitor progress

In addition to indicating a feature's overarching status, representing its phase in the full development lifecycle, you might also want to keep track of more granular tasks that must be completed before a feature is to be developed or launched. Use Task columns for this, e.g.:

  • Prototype
  • Final designs
  • Development
  • Release notes

If you invite members from the broader product team into productboard (including design, engineering, documentation, and marketing), they'll be able to use task columns to keep track of deliverables they're responsible for.

One type of task requires special mention: that of developing the feature! This is often tracked in project management tools like Trello, JIRA, Pivotal Tracker, or GitHub Issues. productboard offers a special task column that appears when you integrate with any of these solutions. It allows you to push features straight to engineering and track their status right from within productboard.

See what matters to you

If you work alongside other product teams and all of you share the same productboard project, you'll want to filter your Features board to show just those features that matter to you.

You can do that using the Product filter to filter by product or component.

Likewise, certain columns and filters may be more helpful to you than your colleagues. To quickly capture especially helpful board configurations, add a saved view that you'll be able to toggle to at any time. When saved views are created, they're private by default, so your colleagues won't see them unless they're made public.

Next steps

✅  Outline your product

Add a new product to your Features board and set up a simple outline representing the major areas of your product (or major needs your product addresses). Add some feature ideas you have to each area.

✅  Customize columns

Review all the column types in the column configurations bar at right. Which will be most useful for your team? Don't worry if there are some you don't think you'll use just yet. You may well find a need for them down the road.

When ready, rename the sample drivers and initiatives to represent your team's strategic goals and milestones.

✅  Clear sample data 

Delete the sample product (including all underlying features) from its details pane.

Or, if you'd like to hold on to the sample data for now but hide it from view, filter it off your board with the Product filter.

Wrap-up

That's it for the Features board! You're all up to speed on how productboard can help you confidently decide what to build next (and ensure your precious feature ideas see the light of day).

Next up, we'll take a closer look at the Insights board, where you can consolidate user research and feedback to understand what users really need.

See also

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