2020-05-17~2 min

Why you need to collaboratively define features

Being in the Product Management space for a while we have seen a lot of things which separate high performing Product teams from others. In this post we want to focus on the prioritization, experimentation and analysis processes and how you can get yours on par with world class Product teams.

You say business goals, I say what?

Often features are developed before stakeholders have agreed upon the business goals. Because you want to “be agile” and “get to market fast”, planning often comes short. Don’t cut the time at the beginning, as this will bite back when developing something nobody asked for because the business goal was not clear. Wasting Engineering cycles might allow you to “get to market fast”, but not to “deliver value fast”.

It is critical to be aligned about the business goals of features which require significant Engineering time. Sit together with all stakeholders and define business goals and KPIs. While this might seem like wasted effort as “everybody already knows what we want to do”, try it out and you will see what “everybody knows” varies widely. This doesn’t need to be a 2 hour discussion, but a 15 minutes check-in where everyone sits in and goes out with knowledge about why the change is planned, when it will happen and what positive business outcome is expected already helps. Especially in bigger companies with politics starting to creep up: Make sure everybody signs off on it.

Fire and forget

More often than not features are released and their journey ends there. Nobody checks back if the feature ever delivered on the promise of increased users, more activity or any other desired outcome. Who is to blame? The way I experienced it the success metrics were often only stated in some requirement doc, or even only lived in someone's mind. Even when clearly outlined in a document, often nobody would check the KPIs after the release and even less often any action would be taken based on the measurements. So why define them in the first place then?

Success metrics are only worth something if they are clearly defined in one place, transparent to everybody and accessible by simply opening up a website and taking a look. Now you might think “great, we have Amplitude, Segment, Google Analytics, … so we are all set” - be careful here, just because metrics are buried in some tool and “accessible to everyone” doesn’t mean it’s actually transparent for stakeholders. What you need is a simple way to check out the key performance indicators for a specific effort you were working on, so people need literally one minute to get an answer to the question “how well is our latest experiment performing?”.

Summary

Recognizing some of the problems described above? We wouldn’t be surprised as we see them over and over again.

Many of them are structural and process problems a simple tool can’t solve. But what a tool can help with is making the change process and way forward easier for you. Product Management is a busy job as it is, stop piecing all the parts together by hand and let featureview do the heavy lifting.