How Aha! transformed our product team's efficiency

Michael Loiacono

Software Portfolio Manager

We had a problem

Maintenance of our product roadmaps was error-prone and inefficient. We used to use Excel spreadsheets and Access databases to manage our roadmaps. Every change was a hassle to make — information got lost, formulas became corrupted, formatting was destroyed, and time was wasted. Even a simple operation like copying a feature from one release to another was subject to error and inefficiency. Communicating our vision, strategy, goals, tactics, roadmaps, and progress was a time-consuming, manual process as well. We used to use PowerPoint as the primary means of creating reports to communicate this information. It was so inefficient that we didn’t do it as often as we should have, and quality suffered.

Finally, managing ideas was inefficient and error-prone. We used to collect ideas using many different mediums: SurveyMonkey, email, our CRM/case management system, paper ballots, plus more! It was almost impossible to consolidate all of these ideas into one source — as was scoring them, tracking the status of each idea, and communicating back to the relevant stakeholders. We noticed that we were losing track of a lot of ideas. This upset our team, management, and those who submitted their ideas.

Aha! as a solution

We use the Features board on a daily basis to manage our product roadmaps. It’s so easy to create new features, move items from one release to another, and drill down for more information. All the things that used to be a nightmare in Excel/Access are now a snap in Aha!

We also use Aha! notebooks to create reports for different stakeholders inside and outside of our organization. For example, we have an internal dashboard that shows our high-level portfolio release roadmap, detailed product roadmaps, and a complete feature list. We also have slightly different notebooks for our managers that focus on tracking our progress with initiatives. Finally, we have external notebooks for our customers. Since the notebooks are automatically updated when we make changes in Aha! it is effortless to maintain these reports. Also, since they can be exported into PDF format as websites, it’s easy to share these reports with any of the stakeholders above.

Aha! is set up the way that our brains think as product managers. It helps us in every aspect of our jobs and feels completely natural. Also, the Aha! customer care is worthy of an award — as is the pace and impact of their innovations.

We use the Ideas Portal and Idea Lists in Aha as the single place for people (both internal and external) to submit ideas. We also use the Salesforce.com integration so we can link cases and sales opportunities to items in our idea funnel. By using all of these Aha! capabilities, the information is instantly available in one central location. Then, we can evaluate, score, and decide what to do with an idea. We can select a status (Will Not Implement, Already Released, Needs Clarification, etc.), and the status can be automatically communicated back to all stakeholders. This makes our lives easier as product managers, and keeps our stakeholders happy. It also ensures that we don’t let good ideas slip through the cracks.

Life is good

Our team has noticed significant time and efficiency improvements across several departments ranging from customer and sales support to product management efficiency. Our product team’s maintenance, development, and R&D costs have all gone down drastically.

Aha! makes us look like rock stars in front of management. It has helped our product team work more efficiently than ever – and achieve our goals.

At the same time, we have gained additional revenue from ideas that would have otherwise been lost.

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