How ProdPad manages feedback and ideas

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Here's an overview of how we manage feedback and ideas at ProdPad, from our Head of Product, Kirsty Kearney-Greig.

Feedback

Here is the way we handle the thematic analysis of feedback e.g. spotting signals from the noise and see what topics and themes are emerging vs consistent problem spaces.


Initial triage


We triage feedback twice a week on a Tuesday and Friday as well as respond to anything urgent on the fly. When triaging, the main things we are looking to extract are:

Insight How we track
The problem to solve or the problem they are facing We highlight from the body copy using bold and an underline so next time we go back to that feedback we don’t have to read the full corpus again
The theme of the feedback We give the feedback a title e.g. "Customising ProdPad" which we pop at the top of the description
The area of the app it relates to We add relevant tag e.g. workflow view
Who this feedback relates to  Add persona

All of these things then give us different ways of grouping the feedback as needed. 

When a theme starts to form

If it’s a newly emerging theme and we don’t have any initiatives linked to it or it’s not something that currently aligns with our strategy/OKRs, we will make an idea and title it e.g. "Theme: workflow" and then use that to attach all relevant feedback as it comes in. This then gives us one place to collate around the same theme and start to spot the sub-themes and problems within it. When we have enough here we will then build it out to a candidate initiative and build out the relevant ideas and experiments for solving that problem. We still retain the theme idea on that initiative to show where it came from but then use the bulk update to assign the relevant feedback to the relevant ideas. 

Depending on the size of this we pull out those ideas in different ways. We may export all the feedback linked to that theme into something like Miro and do a bit of an affinity mapping exercise to build out the sub-problems spaces or may just build out ideas as work through all the feedback and link as appropriate. One of the things we then do on ideas is to use an emoji rating (Green, Yellow, Amber, Red) to show how validated it is using 🔴🟠🟡🟢 to show how much evidence there is to support it and how confident we are that it will solve the problem. Here is the key for those colors:

🔴Red- Very low: Pure gut. No evidence. Thematic support. Opinions.
🟠Amber-Low: Some evidence. Some insight. Sales anecdotes. Lots of remaining questions. Conflicting responses that need understanding.
🟡Yellow- Moderate: Mounting evidence. Interviews started. Initial feasibility. Initial experiment results. A few remaining questions.
🟢Green- High: Extensive evidence. Known facts, 10+ interviews. Conclusive experiment results. Top user request.

This a nice way to then start to prioritize work as well and where more discovery says is needed around an idea or theme. When an idea lands in ProdPad it automatically goes into the unsorted pile and is given the workflow state of a new idea. This will run you through our process for triaging those ideas and the key stages of our workflow as we work an idea from creation to "done", although of course nothing is ever fully done 🙃

Ideas

Here's how we manage new ideas through discovery and validation to delivery and measuring success.

Initial Triage

We triage new ideas weekly. We will review the idea and depending on who added it and the timeframe, it will then go through various levels of work to consider that idea "reviewed", the first stage in our workflow. We will make sure all of the attributes are completed, impact/effort assigned and the full description and business case is complete. If there is anything we are unsure of, we will start a discussion with the idea creator and leave it in unsorted with an 🧐 appended to the title so we know we are awaiting information back but the review process is done.

Discovery & validation

Once all of that info is complete we then decide what to do with it. Normally once fully fleshed out we will then move the idea to the backlog and move to the "reviewed" column of our workflow. This indicates it has been seen, and it has all the information needed to move forward with it when the time is right. Occasionally an idea will come in that just doesn't align with our strategy and we know we won't be looking at it anytime soon so for those we will append a ❌ to the title and move to the workflow stage "not doing" and then archive. In the same vein, we may often get a duplicate slip through the net so we will append a 🔁 to the title, move to duplicate then archive. The main reason for these emojis appended is so we know at a glance when say, looking at an archived idea, if ever needed, why it is in that state to save me re-reading through all the info again.

So once this process is complete we have our ideas fully fleshed (past initial validation stage) and in our backlog and workflow to act upon. The workflow is probably my most used idea view in ProdPad. At a glance, you keep up to date with all the different stages and lifecycles of an idea and zoom into different stages and ideas as required.

Our workflow covers the following stages:

Initial review:

Duplicate

Not doing

Reviewed

Discovery:

Ready for discovery

In discovery

Defining

Design:

In design

Validating

Development:

Ready for dev

In progress

QA

Awaiting release

Live

Outcome measurement:

Measuring success

Done

Let's run through what each of these means and why they are important.

"Initial review" we have already touched on above. Within that, "Reviewed" is essentially a catch-all bucket for us to know it has been reviewed and it's ready to be picked up when we want to prioritize it.

That's where "ready for discovery" comes in. This is the signal to the rest of the team the idea is prioritized and it's ready to be picked up for discovery - most of these ideas will correspond to an initiative but some smaller ideas will also get prioritized here. We usually kick off this stage with a joint product and development session to align around the problem to solve and set the parameters for discovery. Once picked up it moves to "discovery" which is then the go-to place for all ideas in live discovery. At the start of these stages, the idea will get built out a little more. If we are acting on it it's because we think it can move the needle in some way so at this point we will add target outcomes to the idea alongside how validated it is. This validation score then changes as the idea moves its way through the workflow to showcase to the rest of the team how validated it is and therefore how confident we are that it can achieve the outcomes we have set. Below is the validation scoring we use:

Idea validation rating:

🔴 Very low: Pure gut. No evidence, just opinions so far. Supports an emerging theme.

🟠 Low: Some evidence. Some insight. Sales anecdotes. Lots of remaining questions. Conflicting opinions and insight that need further research.

🟡 Moderate: Growing evidence. Customer interviews/surveys kicked off. Initial feasibility completed. Some outstanding questions to answer.

🟢 High: Extensive evidence. Known facts, 10+ interviews conducted with clear outcomes. Conclusive testing results. Continuous feedback from users on the issue.

Once initial discovery is complete we do the final definition of what we learned and which concepts should move forward into the high fidelity design stage.

Here it is usually picked up by one of our designers - most likely whoever was part of the discovery but it can change and is in this stage until we complete any kind of user testing, feedback loops with our users. It's during this stage the validation rating will dramatically change and allow us to decide if we move forward or not. Validation is exactly for that, did it pass testing, what were the outcomes if yes great this is where the development team comes in and does their final speccing in ProdPad before we push to development. It's our house rule that every idea must be specced by both Product and Development with estimated on time from development before we can push to development.

Delivery & measuring success

Here it hits the development stage. Our team works in Trello so now it moves through the stages outlined above so we can easily see where it is at. Our Trello board has many extra stages but we have just pulled them into high-level stages in ProdPad that's enough to know where something is at.

Once live we move to the "measuring success" stage. Here it usually sits for around 4 weeks minimum where I will then look at what target outcomes we set and assess whether we hit them and what is next for that feature/functionality. Any new ideas are created as needed and the original idea moves to done and then archive with an ✅ appended to the title.

Once the idea is done we then move it to the bottom of the roadmap initiative idea list as a way to keep that view also tidy.

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