· 5 min read ·
Every product has room for improvement. Ideas on how to do it comes from many different sources.
So which idea becomes a feature and which one doesn’t?
For this article our goal is to focus on how do you evaluate if an idea:
When I first started out, time management was a big issue for me. Its not something that only product managers face. We all feel challenged on how to best spend our time. I realised that I used to spend a large amount of time researching ideas that the team got. Which is what PMs should be doing as it is one of the key aspects of the product managers job. Where I got stuck though was how much time I spent on an idea. Some mistakes I made early on:
In one of the teams that I worked with we introduced the concept of one pagers for product ideas. This was built on the concepts of pragmatic marketing. We tweaked it to suit the needs of our company. It worked so well that I took it everywhere I went. Some places it was a success, others not so much. It remains an important tool in my arsenal. It helps me:
As the name suggests, it is a one page document. The salient features of the documents are as follows:
It depends on who are the primary stakeholders for that area of the product. It could be:
Anyone in the company should be able to read and understand the one pager. You should make it accessible to everyone.
The one pager has five different sections.
Describe the problem?
One paragraph that describes the issue. For example-I am not able to do “X” because of “Y”:
Who is facing the problem?
List the users who are facing the problem. For example it could be:
How can we solve this problem?
List out possible solution:
Be careful. Don’t end up describing the entire requirements here. Only state the solution, not its inner workings.
What is the development cost of solving the problem?
Provide a rough estimate of:
How large is the project(weeks). Tshirt sizing is a good way of providing initial estimates. It could be:
The above values will depend on how much time building and deploying takes in your company. In a startup you might be able to build faster than a larger company with lots of technical debt
Opportunity cost: What will we NOT build if this idea is prioritised and what it means for the business
What is the benefit of solving the problem?
Depending on the type of idea you could use different metrics here. Example:
I do not write a recommendation in the one pager. It helps the reader make their own assessment without bias. You can tweak the format based on the unique needs of your team as long as the goal is being met. Lots of times the one pager leads to a healthy debate within the group and leads to a decision on what to do with the idea.
There are three stages for rollout that we recommend. You might decide that given how your team is setup you are happy with only one or two stages.
In this stage you roll out the first version of the one pager. The goal at this stage is to:
Convert the one pager into a form that users fill out when submitting product ideas. They might not have all the answers, that’s alright! By going over the questions they will start thinking through ideas the same way as you evaluate them.
One pushback you might face is that it makes it harder for users to provide feedback on the product. And it’s a valid argument. So the implementation would depend on the unique culture of your organisation.
At the end of the day the one pager is a way to help us put our thoughts together in a logical way. Its use extends beyond product ideas. Other teams can use it for their own benefit as well. For example the marketing team can have a one pager for blog topics. This will help them decide which blogs to write before putting effort into it.