Do you remember the legendary PID? the Project Initiation Document. The famous big binder that we used to create in the beginning of a project to satisfy governance and then bury in a drawer so we could get started. Then agile came and we broke things down. We learned story maps, customer journeys, vision statements, business model canvases. For me it works for the big picture, but when it comes to feature development or epics, it’s not perfect.

Product Samurai use elegant weapons for a clear and effective battle. So what is our weapon of choice? I have not yet seen te ultimate tool. But I’m close and I need your help to complete it.

The Problem

I’ve worked with a number of formats in the past that were either too low level or too high level to help my peers to quickly do feature prioritization. Some methods focussed on the pain of the user, some on the business case, some on data, some just on gut feeling (I know, I am ashamed of myself.)

At La ProductConf 2016 I was introduced to the “Auftragsklärung” as used by Xing, which was close to my latest attempt but had a brilliant layout where you could apply stickies to create a flexible way of development and you know agile coaches love stickies. It’s kept short so you need to create a dialogue, rather than that big binder.

The Product

Product Feature Proposal

Product Feature Proposal

It consists of 10 boxes:

  • Persona: for whom are we creating this feature?
  • Problem: what is it that he or she can’t achieve without this feature?
  • Impact: what consequences does our persona suffer as a result of this problem?
  • Mission alignment: why do we care? or why is this something our company should solve?
  • Evidence: how often have we seen this? (HIPPO shielding!)
  • Intent: what is the intent of this feature?
  • Size: how complex does development think this feature is?
  • Hypothesis: what assumptions underpin our thinking for this feature?
  • Outcome: what will be the effects of this new feature?
  • Metrics: how can we tell?

In my example we have:

Ted the Marketing VP, who is having difficulties to pull his prospects deeper in the sales funnel. This causes overall sales to decline and most of all: he is not meeting his numbers. We clearly see this trend when analyzing our AAARR metrics over the last two months. We’ve also identified reasons for this during 7 cold calls and 14 win/loss analysis that we performed, so we are pretty sure. 

It’s our companies mission to fully integrate development and marketing to create marketing technologists so this is pretty important.

It’s our intent to increase to prospect to sale ratio by 20% and 40% would be a stretched goal, but not unattainable. For this to be implemented development estimates a workload that is comparable to the last SEO update we did. Based on what we learned in the analysis we believe the navigation is to blame, people do not understand the value of our product from the text on the website and find no form of social confirmation. 

Addressing these issues we should see a steady conversion grow (4%) and win analysis should lead to at least half the users feeling that they made the best choice. We can measure this by our NPS (+5) and the conversion after 3 months subscription will be up by 20%. When doing discovery calls we should find a 50% uptake and Google analytics will show a 20% better result.

Open Innovation

I am a strong advocate of open innovation, so I love to hear your feedback on this. Try it, and improve it and I’ll promise to write about the 2.0 version so all can benefit from a better way to prioritize feature requests.

Download the pdf version here, and comments below!


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The Product Manager's guide to Continuous Innovation