About GuideStar USA
GuideStar USA's mission is to revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice. We provide information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.
Through our free website, data services, and software products, GuideStar offers tools to help individuals and organizations make better, more confident decisions. Our free website, data services, and software products increase the impact of all philanthropy. In 2014, 350,000 easily searchable, digitized nonprofit records were added to the GuideStar database, increasing the total number to more than 4.5 million.
We had a problem
Key stakeholders in the organization couldn’t access an evolving long view of the product roadmap — or fully grasp the preliminary steps required to develop and release new features. This was partially because roadmaps were maintained in spreadsheets — a process that was cumbersome, inefficient, and visually challenging to interpret.
As a result, collaboration on long-term projects was generally only done during quarterly planning meetings. Members of the Product and Design teams would go months without speaking. We needed a way to keep everyone on the same page at all times.
Aha! as a solution
The Roadmap view in Aha! provides key stakeholders with the long term product strategy. In tandem, the timeline clearly identifies preliminary steps (such as problem discovery, feature definition, solution validation, etc.) and necessary prelaunch activities (beta testing, A/B testing, release planning, etc.). This gives everyone a more holistic picture of what must be built and the steps that must be taken to get there.
The drag-and-drop functionality in the Aha! Features board prevents manual cutting and pasting in spreadsheets. This allows for a continuously updated roadmap, which gives key stakeholders a “real time” view of both the work in progress and the long-term vision. Most importantly, anyone working on any product can view and comment on features in a longer time horizon. This process reinforces the integral nature of our product vision.
Life is good
Thanks to Aha! our product team spends much less time maintaining roadmap spreadsheets, manually calculating WSJF scores, and continually providing exposition to key stakeholders as priorities change. This gives us more time to focus on our product vision — and how we will achieve it.
Software development is a fluid process. Roadmaps can change quickly due to the emergence of new competitors, technologies, etc. Aha! is an efficient way to maintain a long view in a volatile environment. And it has short-term benefits as well. The quarterly roadmap view is an ideal foundation for meetings between Product and Design teams. Seeing this view of what we need to achieve and when allows both teams to make course corrections and discuss potential tradeoffs. The result is better progress towards goals, happier teams, and satisfied stakeholders.