Product Management
January 23

Product manager’s mastery. Feature requests

From Sandbox
It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced product manager or took charge of a product recently you always be thinking about a large list of customers’ requests. What you should do first. How you should process them.

Feature prioritization is based on multiple principles. Basic are aligning to company vision, product strategy, and customer profile. For example, if you’re targeted to small businesses or home offices doing SAP integration request shouldn’t be in your first place.

But what share feature requests take in a product backlog? An answer like “it is full of customers' requests” isn’t correct. It seems strange but true.

If you’re not happy to read long texts the advice is “you should not give attention to customers' requests if your product is mature”.

Let’s see where your product is. We will use two graphics. S-curve and product lifecycle.

S-curve of technology maturity is used to understand how many resources you should spend for getting a result with current technology state. For instance, machine learning is quite new and relatively small efforts return notable results. Overwise, classic workflow for document processing has a long history. There is nothing to do to impress a market.

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When a technology is freshly introduced this brings to your product new way to work. An example for Capture software. With classic templates technology company should create patterns to classify document and do an extraction. AI algorithms can do classification and definition of recognition zones based on an educated network. So, no need to create templates but a customer has to train network or receive an educated network.

In the picture, I selected two edges: technology introduction and technology saturation. If you bring new technology, you need to pay attention to customers’ requests. Overwise if a technology is classic you should skip requests for research tasks.

Technology state is a parameter, but product lifecycle has more weight for work prioritization.

Product lifecycle graphic shows how mature your product. It is a startup or giant with a long history.

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I think you are aware of this picture and know that on every stage you have the following group of users,

  1. Introduction – Innovators
  2. Growth – Early adopters
  3. Maturity – Early majority
  4. Decline – Late majority, Laggards

and that going from growth to maturity you should cross the chasm between early adopters to majorities (see Geoffrey A. Moore “Crossing the Chasm”).

I marked two zones: “the chasm” and the Decline area. When you’re crossing the chasm customer feedback is very important to onboard majorities. That means, implementing feature requests should have top priority. Otherwise, if you have matured product you need to change priorities and doing new innovations rather than working on customers' requests. The paradox that with a matured product you will have big customers portfolio and a large list of requests. But I highly recommend paying more attention to innovation to be always on top of the market.

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(The article was initially published on my LinkedIn account)
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