How to use Ideas
What are ideas?
Ideas are potential ways to solve problems that deliver both customer and business value. Usually generated by internal team members based on customer feedback or problems identified, ideas can manifest themselves as experiments to undertake, bets, or potential solutions. Encompasses both the "what" (description, functional specs, designs) and the "why" (business case, persona, impact/effort).
If you’re Agile-based, an epic would translate to the same level as an idea.
A feature is an aspect of your product that aims to solve a problem. When translating it into ProdPad, a feature could be an idea (as a potential solution to a problem) or as an initiative (as a larger project to develop a feature to solve a specific problem.)
Benefits of using Ideas
ProdPad sits upstream from delivery and allows you to separate your product backlog from your delivery backlog. This saves your delivery tool, like Jira or Azure DevOps from being cluttered and full of things you’re partway through doing, potential ideas, duplicates, and ideas you may never do. With this separation, it becomes the space where you understand and validate ideas before sending them over to your development team for implementation.
ProdPad also provides you with the ability to show off your entire product development process, where you can see your discovery-driven workflow stages, product-driven workflow stages, and post-implementation workflow stages, giving your entire team a full view of what it takes to get things done. Many customers find ProdPad useful as a chance to standardize the ideation process and ensure time and space is spent on discovery and validation, reducing the risk of failure and sunk costs.
Setting up your ideation process
Standardize your workflow
Ideas are used across the 4 main ideation stages:
Look at the current lifecycle of an idea for your organization:
- Where do ideas get documented?
- How do they get reviewed and validated?
- How do you show which ones progress through discovery and into development vs deprioritized?
- How does this connect to your high-level strategy and objectives?
In ProdPad we have the following as defaults:
- Ready for Dev
- In Progress
- Measuring Success
- Contact Customers
Not moving forward
- Not Doing
The workflow acts as the hearthstone of the process, connecting your strategy with your development process via integrations with Jira, Azure DevOps, and many other delivery tools. Make sure you update it to reflect your team’s process, so that other stakeholders can understand what stage in the process they are at.
Centralize ProdPad for all ideas
By using ProdPad for gathering all ideas within your business, you will have a home and make sure no idea is lost. With ProdPad separating your product from the development backlog, you can focus on the problem space rather than the solution space. This is valuable, as you can understand what, why, and for whom you're building things for - information that is crucial to building successful products.
Consider how you currently or could encourage colleagues to use ProdPad to capture ideas:
- How are new ideas shared with the product team?
- How can you make it easy for colleagues to add ideas from where they are working e.g. Slack app or Chrome extension?
- How often will you need to review ideas and nurture your backlog?
To help prioritize your backlog and adjust your roadmap based on your team's workload, you can set an Impact & Effort score for each idea.
Things to consider when deciding how to prioritize ideas with ProdPad:
- You might want to have a stage in your workflow where you will prioritize an idea, this could be upon initial review and again after more detailed scoping.
- This is not intended to replace more detailed scoring such as story points, you are noting the high-level business impact and delivery effort of different ideas to help determine which of them should be validated and where to spend your time effectively. Our simple priority scoring mechanism allows the prioritization of ideas to be constantly reviewed and refined.
- Should be “relative” (i.e. impact of Feature X > Feature Y)
- Consider aligning by creating a definition document
How do I import my backlog from other tools?
Normally customers export all ideas that are not currently in development and import them via CSV into ProdPad. This provides a nice opportunity to tidy up your backlog before importing them into ProdPad. This allows you to start as you mean to go on, only pushing items to your delivery tool e.g. Jira once they have been prioritized and fully scoped.
When should I send ideas from ProdPad to my delivery tool e.g. Jira/Azure DevOps?
The ideal situation is an idea would be fully scoped and defined, with designs, functional spec in ProdPad before it is sent to the development tool e.g. Jira or Azure DevOps. We appreciate that this ideal is something that many teams are working towards or is not possible based on team structure and processes, but not to worry, the main thing is that you have a defined point in ProdPad when ideas are pushed to the development tool and use ProdPad for validation and prioritization.
How should ideas map to our development tool e.g. Jira/Azure DevOps?
Ideas are usually mapped to Epics and User Stories to Stories. However, you are able to create any ticket type from Ideas and User Stories, as required, depending on how your development teams work. It's worth remembering the best way to maximize value from ProdPad is to handle all Discovery, Validation and Scoping within ProdPad before pushing it to your development tool. As such, the ideas should become precise, decreet pieces of work that are then sent to the development tool to be worked on. If you work in different ways, you are able to create different integrations depending on your setup, just be sure to name them so they're easy to identify which is the right integration to send it to for the right scenario!