Note: This article refers to releases and features. Depending on your workspace type, you may see "schedules" and “activities" in your workspace.

Aha! Roadmaps | Tips for managing and prioritizing features and activities

How do you manage incoming feature requests and prioritize your roadmap? How do you figure out what you should work on next?

These are tough questions for any team trying to prioritize the work they need to accomplish. Efficient requirements management takes skill in all companies. But in more complex organizations, it takes real expertise.

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Here are four tips to make roadmap planning and requirements management more efficient, meaningful, and enjoyable:

Goal first

As a great product manager, you must establish a "goal first" approach and a true north for your product based on the best information you have. Reaffirm your strategy and tweak it as necessary, but stay grounded in what you are trying to achieve. This is even more important if there are several teams involved in managing the product. The product team must agree on strategic initiatives first, then align the roadmap and requirements against them. (They must also make the necessary trade-offs as a group.) Explain to the company and product team where you are headed and the value that new releases and features will deliver to customers and the business. If you do, your company and team will follow. If you lose your direction or whip-saw the team back and forth, then complaints will quickly beat you down.

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Lead with conviction

In all organizations, competing interests demand that different enhancements and improvements be made to the product. There's a reason that PMs are considered the CEOs of their product. They must make tough decisions and lead with conviction. Even on great teams where consensus and trust come easy, someone must make the final call when there are real reasons for disagreement. If you do not resolve these disagreements and try to push indecision into engineering, they will either smile and start building what they think is right or thrash and simply stall out.

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Write more (and less) down

Engineers often complain that there is not enough written down, which makes it impossible to focus their efforts. Capture features and their related stories or requirements as bite-sized chunks (instead of long requirements docs). This gives you a record of what customers and other key groups are requesting. It also allows you to incrementally improve these ideas and add additional details over time. The key is to capture what's essential and what the new capability should enable. This is not the place to detail every last bit of minutiae or explain how engineering should build each feature.

Note: If you must produce a requirements doc as part of your process, build and publish it dynamically on the Features List view. Just filter by the release, add features and descriptions, and you're done.

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Rank features based on product value score

Product managers need a consistent way to estimate the value of their work throughout the entire product development lifecycle — from first idea to final production build. To do this, you can apply the same scorecard to multiple record types, so that at every stage in the lifecycle you are using the same metrics to estimate, track, and update your work's score.

The default scorecard equation in your Aha! account uses the product value score, developed with value-based product development in mind. Each scorecard metric covers an aspect of work estimation that most product teams need to consider:

  • Population: How many customers will this item impact?

  • Need: How important is it for those who require it?

  • Strategy: How closely connected is this work to your company and product strategy?

  • Effort: How much work will it take to build?

  • Confidence: What is your level of confidence in each score above?

These metrics combine into a scorecard equation that weights each of the first four metrics equally, and applies a confidence multiplier, like this:

( 1.0 * Population + 1.0 * Need + 1.0 * Strategy - 1.0 * Effort ) * Confidence

If you ever want to weight certain metrics more heavily than others, you could easily change the default 1.0 to 2.0 (and so forth) in the equation.

As your work progresses, you can (and should) update its score. You may have low confidence in an idea's score — but know enough to promote it to your roadmap. By the time you are ready to send a prioritized backlog to an engineering team, you may have a much better sense of a record's strategic alignment. Refer to a record's product value score whenever you need to prioritize it against other items, or communicate its value to another team.

Note: In the Features Board view, you can sort any release or parking lot by total score by clicking the More options button next to the release or parking lot, and then clicking Rerank by Score.

But sometimes the highest-scoring feature is not the one your team needs to address next. It could be that your team has some capacity at the end of the week and you want to find low-effort features to tackle quickly. Or maybe you want to see features with a high impact on a metric, like customer satisfaction — say, anything scoring between 90 and 100 points, regardless of effort. In these cases, you should filter your list report by scorecard metric, not by total score.

Navigate to Features List to pull up a list report of your features. Filter the list to show a subset of your features (you may want to look at features still in parking lots or features with a particular tag), then add filters or data columns for each of your scorecard metrics.

This report can get as sophisticated as you need it to. Click Edit filters to add advanced filters, or hover over the filters bar at the top of the page and click the Add filter + icon to add basic filters.

In the Add filters + and Edit data modals, you will have the option to add the metrics for any scorecard in use in your account. So it is helpful to know ahead of time which scorecard applies to your features in your workspace.

To do this, navigate to Settings ⚙️ Workspace Configure Scorecard for features. If you see a custom scorecard there, note its name, then search for that scorecard in the Add filter + and Edit data modals — each scorecard metric will append the scorecard name. If you see the default scorecard there, search for the Aha! product value scorecard in the Add filter + and Edit data modals.

If filtering by these values, click the filter dropdown and select from the numerical filter options to show values that are a range, a comparison, blank, or not blank. You can apply multiple filters at once — for example, you may want to filter for features with very low effort and greater-than-average value.

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