How to Manage Product Feature Requests – 6 Best Practices
A feature request is an idea a customer sends your way to make you understand how he’s using your product, and what he expects from your product to offer him a better user experience.
Feature requests are an essential communication channel between you, the product owner, and your end-users. They show you a real-life picture of how your end-users are making use of your product. To manage incoming feature requests effectively in project management, this how-to guide will help you understand what you can improve, or change completely in the product to make it offer a richer experience to the end-user.
Managing your feature requests better will help you to:
- Keep track of product ideas,
- Prioritize product features,
- Improve your user experience and, as a result,
- Retain and grow your user base.
This article will outline what you need to know to collect feature requests from your users, prioritize those requests, and leverage them to build winning products.
What types of feature requests are there?
Users can offer different types of feedback, depending on how they’re using the product and what they encounter.
These feature request types include:
1. Bug reports.
Have you ever had a product break or misbehave while you were tinkering with it?
Or maybe you were working on a device, say an Android tablet, and your application crashes. Then you get a notification saying, “your application has crashed. Submit bug report?”.
A bug report is feedback a user provides when they’re using your product and something breaks, doesn’t, or stops providing the functionality they expect it to.
2. Product improvement requests
Most often, your users are quite satisfied with what you’ve built, but they think your product could do more.
That’s where product improvements come in.
Product improvement requests are basically pieces of user feedback telling you what works in your product, but most importantly, how you can make it better.
3. New product feature requests
Sometimes, your users don’t just want better features. They expect entirely new ones that’ll help them get more value out of your product. They send over product feature requests demanding entirely new functionality built into your product.
How to prioritize and manage feature requests effectively
Product management is more of a science than an art. You need a scalable strategy that you can apply once and again to help you better prioritize your feature requests, manage them, and overall, build better products that delight your users.
Here are six actionable best practices you can leverage to keep managing your product features in the best way possible.
1. Put everything in one place
One of the biggest problems product teams face is having product feedback scattered all over the place.
Email, live chat, Facebook, Twitter, and a list of other places where users can send feature requests from.
This creates a huge problem for product teams manually bringing all this scattered feedback into one place and trying to make sense of it.
And when you don’t even have a combined overview of what your product’s users are looking to see, how then can you prioritize their requests and work on building them into the product?
Easy fix: put all your product feature requests into one place like a project management tool, where you can visualize, prioritize, and update their progress as they move from to-do to done.
2. Create a system for receiving and managing requests
If you’re like me, you don’t make feature requests often. In fact, I only make feature requests on products I use often or a product that’s very important.
So, if you expect me to hop into Gmail and type 200 words just to tell you a product (that I use once a week) is broken, you’re joking. The effort/reward ratio is just disproportionate in my opinion.
Likewise, your product’s users most likely have feedback here and there that they want to give you, but it’s going to be hard for them to do that if there isn’t a system you’ve built to simplify the process for them.
Project management software removes this obstacle in the feature request management process.
Using an open request management tool gives your users an easy way to provide feedback via an intuitive interface. On the backend, this robust project management tool collects and organizes all this data into one place where your product management team can keep track of it, prioritize, and update as they work on it.
3. Keep your customers engaged
The product improvement process doesn’t stop when you’ve collected feature requests from users and you’re building them into your product.
Customers need to see that whatever their requests are, that you’re taking steps towards developing them and launching them as soon as possible.
This is one way to build user trust by convincing your product’s users that you’re developing your product to stay useful to them.
There are several ways you can keep your users engaged in your product progress, such as:
- email updates,
- publishing mockups and design ideas,
- leveraging customer feedback at various stages of the product development process, and overall,
- keeping an open platform where users can be informed on product progress.
Engaging your product’s end users shows them that they’re a keep part of your product journey and keeps them in touch until the features they’ve requested are ready for delivery.
4. Classify and prioritize requests
Product feature requests are a huge stream of different ideas, plans, and aspirations expressed by users who leverage your product in different ways.
As a result, although the feedback your end users provide may be dramatically different, you’ll always be able to find some common ground pointing to specific parts of your product.
So, how do you make sense of all this data so you can keep track of what needs to be built or improved? Classify them.
Grouping requests helps you keep track of where product ideas and feature requests fall into and gives you a bigger picture of your product. What this does is show you where you can make changes, and which features to prioritize to get the best outcomes.
5. Discuss features with your teammates and relevant stakeholders
Before embarking on a product development effort to build a feature requested by users, you need to get other project stakeholders takes to determine what would be the best course of action. You need to ask several introspective questions about each feature request, such as:
- Do we have the resources to build out this feature?
- Why exactly haven’t we built out this feature until now? Are there any obstacles we need to prepare for before taking any steps?
- Is this our most pressing need right now? Are there other requested features we can develop that’ll offer the most benefit overall?
- How relevant is this to our end users? Is it just a wish, or a critical, need-to-have, deal-breaker feature?
Your entire team has other versions of the feature management story that you need to hear before taking steps to build out any feature.
6. Maintain a public product roadmap to keep track of product development efforts
A user-facing product roadmap helps your product’s users see that their requested features are being worked on, and will be available in a specified timeframe.
More specifically, it helps you collect user feedback as you go so your users can point out if the product is developing as they expect it and where changes can be made before features are released.
How Kissflow Project can be helpful for managing product feature requests
Managing feature requests is fundamental to the entire product management process.
It gives you an easy way to ensure you’re listening to your users and ensures that the features you’re building are what your users actually need. This helps you be more agile with your product development.
One key insight to note is that in a way, managing product features is essentially product management—agile project management, specifically. You collect ideas (feature requests), record them on a roadmap, prioritize them (sprint planning), work on them (sprint retrospective), and after you’re done, you test (sprint review) before launching them for end users.
As such, it follows that you can only manage your feature requests best when you approach them with a project management mindset.
In fact, managing your feature requests on a robust project management tool like Kissflow Project will help you to:
- Bring all your feature requests into one place,
- Collect and manage product feature requests in one easy-to-use interface,
- Engage customers while features are being built, and,
- Maintain a public roadmap where your users can keep track of your progress.
Kissflow Project offers an easy way to collect feature requests, prioritize, track them, and engage users until they’re launched.
Take Kissflow Project for a spin today.
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