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How to estimate the value of product ideas

Imagine the scenario – your product idea management process has been an outright success and now you are inundated with ideas for how to improve your product! Just a few months after launching an idea management project you have:

  1. Set up an idea portal that has collected dozens of good ideas from users and colleagues.
  2. Held meetings with key customers to get feedback on your product.
  3. Sent out a survey and analyzed the results to create some practical product ideas.
  4. Spoken to customer success and account managers to get even more ideas.
  5. Used analytics tools to understand what needs to be improved and developed.

Now you need to decide what to do with this long list of good feature ideas – all of which could have a significant impact on your product and the business as a whole! While it would be wonderful to be able to implement every single business idea, in reality that’s simply not feasible. Every product and development team has limited resources, meaning that you need to estimate the value of each of the ideas and then pick the ones that will be most useful in helping you achieve your product goals.

As a product manager, one of your most important responsibilities is to choose which ideas to turn into features and which to leave by the wayside. The lucky ideas are those which will be fleshed out and then added to your product roadmap as initiatives that fit into a specific product management goal. Once they are in the roadmap you can create features in a product management software like Craft where you can prioritize the features and assign them to goals and initiatives.

Estimating the Impact of Your Ideas

Any idea that you are considering turning into an actual feature obviously has its merits ,or it would have been discarded much earlier. But when evaluating which ideas are worth taking to the next level and investing your time and energy into it’s important to think about the impact they will have on your business. To do this you need to refer to your overall business goals that should be in your product roadmap. While any of the ideas can be useful and have a strong impact, an idea will be most impactful when it is aligned with the goals and fits in with the initiatives that are already included in the roadmap.

If the head of the product team has created a portfolio roadmap it also worth referring to that because it is also important for the features that are put into development to be aligned with the overall goals and strategy of the entire product line. For example, if one of the goals for this quarter is to improve customer communication then an idea that impacts the way you send messages to customers could be a good candidate for a feature.

Estimating the Cost of the Ideas

While the overall impact of the idea is an important factor when deciding which ideas to turn into product features, the cost of the idea is also very influential. At this stage you should also consider that ideas that come from other people are very different to formal feature requests or plans that you come up with yourself. An externally generated idea may have some good points but it is likely you will have to work harder at turning into a genuine feature plan as it will probably lack detail and focus.

This additional time that you’ll need to spend working on the idea should be factored into the cost of the idea. The cost will also include things like development time and any other resources that need to be put into the feature in order for it to become a reality. Therefore you should sit down with the individuals in the departments that need to be involved – the engineers, solution architects, developers and QA etc – to find out if it is worth taking this idea to the next level.

What’s the Value of An Idea?

The value of the idea partly depends on its impact and cost. Really it is all about how much value the users will get from it and how much money it could end up making for the company via the product. An expensive feature idea may be worth putting into development if it is expected to be particularly valuable and can encourage more users to sign up and use the product. Conversely, an idea which may appear cheap in terms of development effort and other resources may not be valuable if it has little impact on users and the bottom line.

Try Craft Now – get a Free Trial

Craft’s Product Management Platform includes an integrated Idea Portal, designed to help product managers plan their features and make better product decisions. Try it out right now with a 14-day free trial or book a personal live demo with one of our product experts.