The product management guide

Aha! helps product managers get their mojo back

How do I prioritize product ideas?

Successful ideation involves collecting, curating, and promoting ideas into features. This ensures that key feedback and requests are seamlessly integrated into your product planning and development processes. It also allows you to confirm which ideas will add value to customers and the business.

The most effective method is to score ideas based on projected maximum value for both parties. The scoring mechanism for ideas should be meaningful and measurable, but high level enough so the team does not waste time evaluating ideas that will never get implemented. We recommend creating a scorecard to allow the team to quickly rank ideas as they come in.

For example, when we are capturing ideas, we evaluate them on two axes: impact and effort. This provides us with a simple, straightforward way to easily rank ideas as they are submitted. Other values that might be useful include sales or thought leadership -- but no matter which values you choose, they should always roll up to high-level impact.

Are you sitting on several submitted ideas? Here’s a quick checklist to manage idea scoring:

Ensure that information is complete
There are several ways to approve ideas. We suggest starting with a quick review of new ideas to determine if more information is needed. If this is the case for a specific idea, email its submitter. Doing so will start a dialogue about how this idea will enhance the product.

Merge duplicate ideas
Ideas that already exist should be merged so that you can reduce the list to unique ideas -- without losing the details and nuance of each request. When you merge two ideas, the one to which you merge should become the "master" idea. All ideas merged from that point on thus become part of that group.

Rank based on score
Sometimes, you review an idea and know right away that it should be promoted to a feature. Other times, the value of an idea will be unclear. In all cases, you should quantify the value of features against metrics that matter to your business. Then, rank these features based on those scores. Use a simple "effort" scale to rank these features based on projected maximum return. Where possible, make ideas public so that all stakeholders can see them. This allows them to add comments, votes, and suggestions for each idea.

Promote ideas to features
Once an idea has proven value for customers and the business, the next step is to promote it to a product feature. When you promote an idea to a feature, a link is established between the original idea and its new, corresponding feature. This ensures that a feature's origin is always accessible. It also ensures that users who submit and subscribe to ideas are automatically notified when an idea is implemented as a shipped feature.

Respond to those who submit ideas and provide feedback
Responding quickly to ideas with, "Yay", "Nay", or "Soon" is helpful to the person who submitted the idea and anyone else who has visibility. But this also helps product teams communicate with stakeholders using transparency. It also reinforces product positioning and direction. When product teams practice idea scoring, it encourages quality discussion and additional insight. The result is happier teams building more lovable products.

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