• Many product teams – especially those working on software-as-a-service offerings – spend most of their time and energy enhancing existing products
  • Organizations often add features for unclear reasons or without a plan for realizing value, resulting in wasted resources, confusing products, lost opportunities and frustrated customers
  • With a more regimented approach to assessing, planning and measuring enhancements, organizations can realize greater value and improve growth and retention

You’re probably aware of the riddle “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Well, here’s my version for product management: “If a feature is added to a product and no one knows about it, does anyone really benefit?”

Broken tree fallen in forest

Product managers often spend an inordinate amount of time adding new features to existing products, believing that those enhancements will provide more value. But if users don’t know about those new features and don’t understand their value, all of that work is for naught.

At SiriusDecisions 2019 Summit (May 5 through 8 in Austin), my session “Why Did We Add This Feature? Getting Value From Enhancements” will provide guidelines for how to ensure you’re adding the right features in the right way at the right time to get the most out of the product enhancement investment. In this presentation, I’ll share a process for collecting, evaluating selecting enhancements – and tracking their impact – along with specific recommendations for defining success and best practices to make sure the value of enhancements is fully realized post-launch.

As a preview, here are three tips to get you started:

  • Focus on the highest-value enhancements. Realizing value from new features starts with selecting those that will provide the most benefit. Many product managers prioritize features using an ad hoc, opinion based or opaque process. Even if you have the best plan for promoting the feature post-launch, that plan is meaningless if the feature you’re adding is something users don’t care about. Using a consistent, objective approach to prioritizing features – such as the SiriusDecisions Product Enhancement Prioritization Framework (available to clients of our Product Management research service) – can make the process more customer- and data-driven.
  • Define what success looks like. Too many product teams define success for a feature as simply “getting the feature added.” Different features have different purposes, and clarifying the success criteria for each particular feature is critical. A feature that helps users recover a forgotten password should be measured against its reduction in support tickets, while a feature commonly requested by new-business reps should be measured against the number of new customers acquired as a result of the additional feature. These success metrics are key to developing an appropriate plan that can deliver the expected results and demonstrate that this investment of resources was the right one for the business.
  • Plan pre-launch for post-launch engagement. The 1989 film Field of Dreams gave us the now-classic phrase “If you build it, they will come.” Unfortunately, building new features into products doesn’t make buyers and users magically appear. Product managers must work with portfolio marketing, customer success, customer marketing and account managers to make customers and prospects aware of the enhancement and its value so that the investment can be validated and its impact realized. This planning shouldn’t happen when the enhancement has been added or even during development – for an agile product development approach, for example, once an enhancement is targeted for potential release, the planning for maximizing value should begin if it isn’t underway already. Clients have access to the brief “Involving Other Functions in Agile Product Development,” which specifically addresses when and how these roles and others should be involved in agile development initiatives.

Applying these concepts to product planning can help product managers begin to get more value from product enhancements. For more guidance on maximizing investment in new features, join me at Summit for my session “Why Did We Add This Feature? Getting Value From Enhancements.” Hope to see you in Austin!