Why product teams need a digital notebook

Where are the team meeting notes from last week? What about the SWOT analysis from your annual planning session? Or that really compelling pricing research a teammate recently completed? If you are like most product teams, these items live in different places. You bounce between bookmarks, "favorites" folders, and disconnected tools to find them. And often, you cannot. (It is really frustrating.)

This is why product teams are increasingly on the hunt for a "single source of truth" — one tool that can hold team documentation, meeting notes, collaborative whiteboards, the product roadmap, and even team to-dos. Our own team at Aha! was looking for the same — it is why we built a digital notebook that is seamlessly integrated with our roadmapping software. Not only does this save time and hassle, but it empowers everyone to think more creatively, capture bold ideas, and refine concepts together in one central hub.

Yes, we built a digital notebook and are writing about why you need one. But whether or not you choose Aha! Notebooks, we hope to offer insights on what to look for in a solution and how to incorporate it into your existing workflows.

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What is a digital notebook?

A digital notebook is technology that replicates and expands on the functionality of a physical notebook. It can refer to a handheld digital device (such as a Kindle Scribe, Moleskine Smart Notebook, reMarkable, or Rocketbook). But what we mean when we say "digital notebook" is a note-taking and task-management software application. These tools are meant for creating documents stored in virtual folders that can be sorted, annotated, and edited.

In the case of Aha! Notebooks, notes come with rich formatting options, drawing capabilities, pre-built templates, and collaborative whiteboards. Features like guest access and live editing support real-time and asynchronous collaboration alike.

Some digital notebooks integrate with other tools you already use — connecting note-taking to other product work. For instance, product teams that use Aha! Roadmaps have access to all the functionality Aha! Notebooks provides. Any items created on a whiteboard can be translated into real ideas and features on a product roadmap.

This is an excellent way to bridge unstructured and structured work. For example, you will sometimes want to think freely and see where your ideas lead. A mind map on a whiteboard is great for this purpose. Once those ideas begin to formalize into real plans, you do not want to lose momentum or change context. With a few clicks within the same software, the sticky notes on your mind map convert into structured activities or features within an upcoming release.

See how it works in the tutorial below.


Using a digital notebook to create a product knowledge hub

We know what you might be thinking — really, another tool? If your existing product documentation is scattered across emails, spreadsheets, and file-sharing systems (that your team barely uses as it is), the idea of expanding your tool stack might raise eyebrows. But let's think about this differently.

A digital notebook can help consolidate and replace tools you already have, offering the same functionality and then some. No more separate logins or tabs just to get to your meeting notes. No more lost whiteboard sessions or stale product wikis that no one references. If you treat your digital notebook as one central hub, this can all exist in the same place.

This means your digital notebook becomes the go-to resource for all there is to know about your product — how you make decisions, how you work together, and everything that goes into delivering value to customers. In that sense, it is both a repository and a forum, encouraging the team to be more organized, collaborative, and accountable throughout the product-building process.

The following table includes examples of how you can incorporate a digital notebook into each stage of product development. Keep in mind that digital notebooks are tools for ideation, documentation, and stakeholder alignment. The bulk of your actual product work — think release planning, roadmapping, and feature prioritization — happens in product development or roadmap software. (The benefit of Aha! Roadmaps is that it includes both notebooks and roadmapping functionality.)

Product development stage

Use cases for a digital notebook


Get started with early-stage strategic planning — ideating on your vision, product positioning, and goal frameworks before solidifying strategy in your product development or roadmap software.


Organize and store findings from competitive analysis, customer research, and market trends.


Host brainstorming sessions with the team or map out new product concepts and diagrams on a whiteboard.


Draft a product requirements document and create first-draft roadmaps before building out formalized product plans in your product development or roadmap software.


Collect sketches, wireframes, and mockups from design iterations.


Facilitate high-level sprint planning and capture notes from retrospective discussions.


Share performance metrics, KPIs, and progress against goals with stakeholders.


Centralize meeting agendas and document team processes.

Related: Internal product documentation vs. customer support knowledge base


How to choose a digital notebook for your product team

Plenty of digital notebooks exist on the market. But few that we know of are equipped to support all types of product work. It is not enough to just jot down ideas — you want a tool that will help guide you toward creating high-quality product documentation and function as a collaborative space.

Rarer still are digital notebooks purpose-built for product teams. We created Aha! Notebooks to serve as a playbook from early-stage ideation all the way to launch and beyond. It combines note-taking and whiteboarding in one tool and is designed as a companion to Aha! Roadmaps. You can easily convert whiteboard items to roadmap features — so you can move from unstructured to structured work and back again.

This is why Aha! Notebooks is our top digital notebook recommendation (no surprise). That said, we think it is always a good idea to do your research before adopting new software for your entire team.

Here is a quick checklist of what to look for as you evaluate digital notebook tools:

  • Rich formatting options to add color, style, and structure to documents

  • Built-in whiteboards to allow for visual thinking within the same tool

  • Collaboration capabilities such as comments, reactions, and document sharing to foster frictionless teamwork

  • Productivity features like to-do lists for easy task management

  • Efficient organization via folders and search functionalities that let you find information quickly

  • Pre-built templates to kickstart your thinking (and ideally, templates tailored specifically for product development work)

  • (Bonus) AI tools like writing assistants that can expedite the drafting process

  • (Bonus) Roadmap integration that allows you to connect documents and whiteboards to related features and releases

Template — New find the right fit

Explore dozens of tailor-made templates for product builders in Aha! Notebooks.

Once you have selected a digital notebook, consolidating all of your product docs can take upfront planning and meaningful effort. (If you happen to be switching from Confluence, Aha! provides a document importer.) You will also need to plan, organize, and create a documentation system that works well for you. But in time, everyone will benefit from the improved access and alignment that comes with keeping everything in one place — especially if you are thoughtful in choosing a digital notebook designed for your needs.

Read next: Why product teams need virtual whiteboard software

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