As a product manager, you have to deal with ideas from everywhere: your users, the development team, your exec team, and more. But what do you do once you get them? Managing your ideas and having a process is a big part of your job, especially if you don’t want your backlog to build up. Here are my top four tips to help you stay on top of your ideas and control a messy product backlog.
Review your ideas list
The best way to minimize your product backlog is by keeping an eye out for new ideas. I recommend you schedule some time for this – maybe once a week when you have some quiet time. Be sure to make this a regular part of your routine so ideas don’t pile up and the workload becomes unmanageable. ProdPad makes this task easier by providing you with a dashboard that tells you which ideas are new, which are your 'quick wins', and which need a bit more attention.
Add a business case
Ideas can stem from anywhere – some are good, some are bad, and others are just a bit random! The only thing separating an exceptional idea from the rest is whether it provides actual value to the product. We make that thought process easier by asking anyone submitting an idea to answer two simple questions: What problem are you trying to solve? and What value would it provide if it were solved? Of course, the more detailed the better, but as long as there’s a conscious effort to answer those two questions, all ideas will start to have more value and help shape their design.
The best way to make decisions is to ask the the people behind the curtains – your team! Ask your team for feedback and have them vote on ideas. By involving your team not only will you recognize key areas that need improvement within the product, but your team will feel valued. Communication is a must, whether your team is big or small.
Assign impact and effort
As your ideas take form, a great way to decide which ones you could be working on is by assigning impact and effort. This is part of the prioritization process. Prioritization is an actionable interpretation of your roadmap. It’s the process of deciding what should be built when, based on what will bring most value to the user and the product right now.
ProdPad helps you prioritize by plotting out all of your ideas based on impact and effort scores, as well as how fleshed out the idea is. The size of the dot determines how detailed the idea is – it’s essentially a rough guide to show you the difference between a one-liner and an idea that has a bunch of comments, mockups, user stories, and so on. It’s more visual than it is scientific, but being able to see ideas charted alongside each other provides you with a useful, top-level overview. The color of the idea determines ‘popularity’, ranging from bright red for ideas that have been recently interacted with, to a plain grey for those that have been ignored for a while. Again, you should treat the colors as a rough guide, but on the whole these will help you identify and organize those popular and ignored ideas.
We even let you visualize the plot map based on tags and custom filters, and whether or not an idea is currently on the roadmap.