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Making Product Decisions - Part I

The quadzillion shilling questions - "What should we build, and why?" They are bloody hard questions but having a framework in place can be of help. The following is a quick look into the approach myself and Gijs Nelissen continue to refine every day over at Prezly.

The framework is a combination of different signals. Below is a quick look at the signals that make up our approach and how they relate to one another.

Goals

It all starts with our product goals. "What are we trying to achieve?" When done correctly these product goals are the offspring of the company goals, strategy, and vision. How will product impact the success of the business - pretty important stuff.

These goals must be measurable and achievable within a set timeframe. Equally important the goals should be clear at a glance by everyone, inside and outside of your team.

Initiatives

Initiatives are the high-level ideas you will work on to achieve your goals. Ask yourself, "What do we need to do to achieve our goals?". Initiatives are not granular features but opportunities you see to move the ball forward.

Initiatives help keep us focused, when we look at our goals it's often the case we'll have dozens of ideas on how to achieve them. Because we can never do all the things, we select what we believe (backed by data) to be the idea that will have the most significant impact and best align with our strategy and vision.

Here is an example, you have a goal to increase usage of your application. You see the opportunity to do this by improving mobile support. Your initiative is "Make your app mobile friendly". An example feature related to this initiative would be "A menu optimised for mobile".

Drivers

Next, we have our drivers; Drivers are how we measure impact. Where initiatives and goals tend to change anywhere between 3-12 months - Our Drivers are much more consistent. Determined by our company vision and strategy, our drivers are core product attributes/ethos that we deem critical to our success.

When prioritising new features, we look to these drivers to help guide us in our decisions. For example, one driver might be revenue. When considering a new feature, we then listen to this driver to determine its impact on our revenue.


There are three primary signals when it comes to making product decisions. In the future, I'll dive into how to set goals, initiatives, and drivers along with looking at our drivers such as effort/scope and more.