Product features refer to the various functionalities that deliver value to the customer and include capabilities, performance, components, and even the user interface (UI) design. Broadly, features can be described as tasks or actions that empower users to achieve certain objectives, solves a user challenge, and add value to the user while aligning with a theme or an effort of work.
Every function is a sum total of several steps and each step can be further broken down into sub steps. This translates to multiple features a product must have to capture all those operations and automate the function to provide value. Now, the challenge product developers face is in deciding which features to include in the product.
A product roadmap helps to create a balance between needs and speed and is arrived at after defining, analyzing, and prioritizing features. The process of arriving at the must-have features must be repeatable and standardized. Most importantly, it should be tied to a business objective to ensure that the product is not only feature-rich but also delivers value.
A product feature offers a functionality that benefits the users in some way. These benefits can vary in criticality, ranging from disrupting the way a process is done to enhancing the process efficiency or a nice-to-have feature with no serious impact. This impact on operations will also determine how effectively the feature will be used or whether it will be destined to be buried amongst the hundreds of other similar nice-to-have but not critical features. This will make the product seem less serious and lose a competitive advantage.
Since there can be many demands for different kinds of features and the limitations on cost, time, and resources prevent all the features to be delivered at the same time, prioritization becomes essential. This requires defining the feature, identifying its value to the user, estimating the time needed to develop and deploy, and plan further enhancements.
Even for businesses that focus on a single product or single function, this can be difficult. For businesses that try to provide end-to-end solutions or multiple products, this can be even more difficult. Also, different customers at different maturity levels will need different features, further complicating the decision-making process.
How to decide which features are critical and which are not? To evaluate the features, their usefulness should be measured in quantifiable ways as otherwise, the product may become bulky and unwieldy or not serve its intended purpose.
It may be of interest to read our Application Performance Engineering Success Story: Leveraging Elasticsearch for A Global Supply Chain Company.
Some of the Best Practices for mapping your features to measurable business outcomes include:
Have a ‘goal-first’ approach to product development where the strategic initiatives are derived and a roadmap and requirements aligned with it. Communicating the direction of product development to all stakeholders will ensure greater cohesiveness and better collaboration.
To be able to identify features and define them, it is important to understand the users, their pain points, and how your product can help them solve them. Creating buyer personas and mapping the features to the personas will help arrive at the feature list. User story mapping is a visualization of the customer journey that can also help to map the features to the personas.
Identify the value the different features offer and establish metrics on how they can benefit the business. Based on the scores, rank them and calculate the RoI in terms of time, cost, and resources to arrive at the list of features that make it to the roadmap.
There is no single formula to calculate the value but here is a guideline to some criteria for assessing the value:
These benefits can be further divided into two categories: tangible and intangible. Tangible would include factors such as convenience, reliability, and cost. Intangible is more subtle and includes emotions, causes, and status. Together they will determine the USP of the product, increasing its desirability for the customers.
Data and analytics are critical for the feature development process to provide insights into user requirements and immediate needs, and help to arrive at the value of each feature. Therefore, having access to meaningful and relevant data is critical to the product engineering process.
Indium Software is a cutting-edge technology solution provider with vast experience in product engineering and data engineering. Our team of technical experts with cross-domain experience work closely with product development companies as their extended arm, providing bespoke solutions best suited to their product and business objectives.
We provide end-to-end solutions to develop goal-first, feature-rich products that enhance the digital experience and break barriers of innovation. Our understanding of business domains enables us to contribute significantly in identifying and defining critical features, establishing the metrics to rank them based on value, and prioritize the development process for timely delivery in a resource-efficient manner.
When the outcomes are evaluated based on gut-feel and opinions, it is likely that there is a misreading of customer requirements. Product managers need insights drawn from data to improve their decision making on the value of a feature in delivering an outcome that satisfies a critical need of the customer.
Having measurable metrics helps quantify the value of each feature in an objective way and rank them. This ensures that only the important features find their way into the roadmap.
By Ankit Kumar Ojha
By Uma Raj
Indium Software is a leading digital engineering company that provides Application Engineering, Cloud Engineering, Data and Analytics, DevOps, Digital Assurance, and Gaming services. We assist companies in their digital transformation journey at every stage of digital adoption, allowing them to become market leaders.