Idea Management 101
Ideas are the lifeblood of any product manager – it’s their job to decide how a product should be developed, improved and provide business value to the user. Idea management is, therefore, the process of collecting all the ideas about how to develop the product, sorting through them, prioritizing them, and eventually choosing which ideas to turn into actual features. Without good ideas, you’re unlikely to be as innovative as you want to be, and innovation is the main aim of all product teams.
Each product manager has their own method of managing ideas – some keep them in an Excel file, others note them down on a pad of paper. However, the popularity of product management software like Craft has made it much easier for product managers to manage ideas. In 2019 Craft introduced an Idea Portal, an external website designed specifically for product managers to use to collect ideas and feedback. The Portal is linked to Craft, allowing you to easily connect any idea to a feature and start the development process.
Where do all these ideas come from?
As a product manager, you’re likely to be inundated with ideas from many different sources. For example:
- Senior management will often make “suggestions” or even directly tell you to develop specific features.
- Colleagues may come up with ideas for features that could be useful.
- Users can often send feature request.
- You can’t ignore the market – so if a certain feature type is popular it’s probably worth considering adding it to your product.
- There’s also your own intuition – how do you see the product being used?
With so many ideas and proposals seemingly coming from every direction, product managers can easily become overwhelmed and some of the best ideas can slip through the cracks. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s worth using a dedicated idea management platform – it allows you to collect and track customer feedback and ideas, place them in categories and link them to your plans. At the same time an idea portal encourages what is known as user generated content – users who might not have otherwise offered their opinions and ideas may very well do so when invited to use the idea portal. Interactivity is also a massive benefit of idea portals – users can vote for their favorite ideas, comment on ideas and you as a company can reply to users and let them know you appreciate their input. It’s a win win!
The Basics of Idea Management
When creating an idea management process, the important thing is to choose a clear and present plan. Whether you use an idea management platform, a spreadsheet or even a notebook, organization is key if you are going to get the most out of managing ideas.
Here are our top 6 tips for idea management:
1. Eliminate Irrelevant Ideas
Can you have too many ideas? Well, while you definitely don’t want to discourage your users from getting involved and contributing, using a tool like an idea portal can easily end up creating an overload of suggestions. This is even more likely if your idea management platform is linked to a customer relationship software like Zendesk, meaning customers might feel like they can send dozens of suggestions and ideas a day.
It is therefore essential to regularly go through the idea portal and either delete or tag the ideas that you don’t think are relevant. Craft’s Idea Portal lets you quickly create labels that can be attached to any idea, so you can mark the ones you want to come back to and others that you’re not interested in without the user realizing and becoming offended.
2. Stay in touch
Often, a user might offer what they think is a good idea but when you read it there seems to be something missing. This is where interactivity comes in. Whenever you read an idea that seems to be incomplete get in touch with the user and ask them to give you more details. You never know, it could end up being a diamond idea that is turned into a successful feature. It’s also important to reply to as many ideas as you think necessary. Responding with a quick “thanks, great idea,” or “ok, we’ll look into that” will make the user feel they are being listened to.
3. Delete duplicate ideas
While some idea portals are managed by the product manager, in many companies someone else is responsible for going through the portal on a regular basis and passing the best ideas on to the product manager. This can be the product marketing manager or an administrator, but whoever it is often has a mammoth task on their hands if the product is successful and the portal becomes popular. For that reason, it is important for the portal administrator to delete any duplicate ideas to avoid clogging up the system.
4. Prioritize the best ideas
While you are eliminating irrelevant ideas you can use the same label system for prioritizing ideas. In the Craft idea portal, administrators can use the Importance dropdown to mark an idea as “Critical,” “Important” or “Nice to Have”. Once ideas have been given an importance level it makes it much easier to decide which to consider developing and which should be left to the side or maybe developed in the future.
5. Categorize your ideas
If you don’t want to lose track of your ideas you should make sure to create relevant categories they can be placed in. The great thing about this is that the users themselves can choose which category their idea is connected to, which means you won’t need to sort the ideas yourself.
Categorization doesn’t only make it quicker to find the ideas you want, it allows you to focus on certain aspects of the product you prefer to develop at that particular time.
6. Create features from ideas
This is where the fun comes in! You’ve gone through your ideas, deleted the irrelevant ones, prioritized them best ideas and now you can choose which ones fit in with your goals. The advantage of using a tool like Craft is that you can always refer to your strategic roadmap to see your goals and initiatives and decide which ideas are most relevant. Once you choose a few ideas you can connect them directly to craft and you’re ready to start developing them!
If you’re looking to make smart product decisions, align your team, and tell a compelling product story sign up for a free trial of craft.io, the end-to-end product management platform with best practices built-in. Or better yet, book a demo with a Product Executive to walk you through it.