You own a product or offer a service. You want to sell it to your potential leads and attract consumers. How will you convince them that your product or service offered is different from the others in the market?
This is where deciding your product features plays an important role. Directly or indirectly the entire organisation is involved in deciding features for their product.
With regards to product features, the product team continuously brainstorms to improve the product and end-user experience, stakeholders have a vision for their product, the marketing team researches and provides updates on the competitors’ existing and upcoming product features, the sales and service team being the voice of the customer, reports customer feedback. It also sometimes happens that the product team is put under pressure by the sales team to run an unplanned feature or enhancement release in order to retain customers.
To sum it up the above scenarios, the product team has a lot of features to implement but within limited time and resources. With so many ideas and requirements coming from so many sources, getting digressed from your company goal is bound to happen.
This is where the product manager must step in and create a feature roadmap keeping in mind all the above.
Remember, competitors are opportunists and without a feature roadmap, it is like walking on thin rope. If you fail in product development, you give your predators the desired opportunity.
It ensures that the right features are released at the right time.
It gives engineers a vision for execution.
The team can accordingly market a feature before its release and collect customer feedback post release.
The sales team can set the customer’s expectations right with respect to the availability of a feature.
It strengthens the company goal.
It helps in using money and man power efficiently.
Ensures smooth rollout.
Helps avoid delays and meet deadlines.
Features should be categorized based on their importance level. Does your product have a basic and necessary feature without which the product is incomplete and cannot be used or an alternative to an existing feature being implemented to provide users with more options or a unique feature that will add the wow factor to the product? Or is it just a feature whose presence/absence hardly matters? Basic features are product loopholes, which need to be figured out and given topmost priority failing which spending money and effort in marketing and pitching the product will be a vain effort.
How complex and difficult is implementing a particular feature? It is important to answer this and analyse the effort required in building a feature prior to starting work on it. As features, which are comparatively complex as well as require more dedicated hours can be picked after the easier ones.
The whole point of coming up with new features is to further delight existing customers and attract new prospects thus increasing the company's revenue and product’s brand value. While deciding the feature order one factor to consider along with the above complexity point is the business value that the new feature will add.
The fact that a thing in demand gets sold comparatively easily holds true for any nature of business. It is recommended to roll out that feature first that the users currently require. If not rolled out timely your competitor might grab the opportunity and attract even your existing customers. Marketing and sales team can help analyse the demand.
Before starting to implement a feature it is vital to scope out the team members and third-parties that need to be involved in its implementation. This would require checking on their availability, prior commitments and schedules. Accordingly, it can be decided when to start working on it.
The product manager needs to check and confirm with the sales and service team if they have promised any new feature or enhancement to the customer. If so, it is necessary to keep that promise and make that feature available.
At times, a particular feature sells best on a specific occasion. It will be a smart strategy to prioritise your features in such a manner that you can roll out a feature at the right time/event.
There might not be any direct cost involved in bringing a new feature to the market, but indirectly the amount of man hours required/spent in scoping, coding, testing and marketing done for that feature contribute to its cost. Keeping this and the company’s budget in mind the phase in which that feature can be picked up should be decided.
A feature cannot be implemented unless you have a complete knowledge of why it is being made, how it is going to help, which persona is going to use it, how to implement it, its desired behavior and effect on the rest of the product. If you do not have any of this information, then it is recommended to keep such features for the last as they require further research.
If two features are interdependent, then there is no point in implementing just one and keeping the other for later. Such features should be rolled out together.
At times, the sales or service team may come up with an urgent feature or enhancement request that is required by only one of the customers.
Whether to build it and when to build it depends on factors like how much revenue is being generated from that customer, how important that feature is for that customer and how it will help other customers.
Every business involves some amount of risk. The same goes for feature roll out. Trying to provide a unique and out-of-the-box feature brings the hope of having a revenue increase and brand value along with the fear of being rejected. Hence a unique feature should be implemented when you are ready to take a risk. Unique features can be implemented following the execution of on-demand features.