What types of feature requests exist?
Feature requests are suggestions or ideas for improving the product that your users have, and you should listen to them. They can be about:
1. Bug fixes
This type of request is aimed at finding bugs in the product. If a user encounters an error or problem, he’ll probably contact you to let you know about it. A request to fix an existing bug or security issue.
2. Product improvement requests
Have you ever received a message from your end-users saying, “your product doesn’t do this or that, can you add this feature?”
A product improvement request is a feedback the user provides when they have identified an aspect of your product that isn’t working as expected. An idea to improve the product in some way. A request to change something in the product (e.g., default setting).
3. New product feature requests
User feedback is useful, but it’s not always feasible to implement all the ideas your users suggest.
A new product feature request is an idea you receive from a user that involves adding a new feature to your product.
Product features are often requested by your end-users as they want to improve their own experience with the product and make it more efficient for them. These are ideas on how you can improve your product as it is used by your customers, but aren't necessarily changes they would like you to make in terms of functionality or design.
How to prioritize and manage feature requests effectively
1. Put all ideas and enhancements in one place
If you want to be able to prioritize your feature requests, it’s a good idea to put all of them in one place.
This is because you’ll be able to see what kind of feedback they have and how they fit into the bigger picture.
It also gives you an easy way to collect these requests from different people, so you can make sure that everyone gets their voice heard and you don’t miss out on any important issues.
A place for customers to provide feature requests and updates. A place for developers to ask for feature request support or to see what features are being requested. Have one page with the list of all the feature requests. This way, it's easy to see what features are being requested by everyone, and also make sure they don't overlap with each other.
2. Create a system for receiving and managing requests
Some product managers use a simple spreadsheet to manage their feature requests.
This is a great place to start, but you need something more robust and scalable for managing the requests coming from all your different channels.
A product management tool like Jira, Trello, or IdeaPlan have been proven to be effective at keeping track of feature requests and helping teams prioritize them across their whole organization.
3. Keep your customers engaged
Most product teams, especially startups, don’t get to see a lot of direct feedback from their customers. Most of the time you only hear about the features your customers want and it can be hard to prioritize what you should build next or how much you should spend on each feature.
But here’s the thing: your users are going to be more engaged in your product if they feel like they have a say in its direction and feel like they're part of building it with you.
Project management software helps solve this problem by creating a place for all your user-generated feedback that's easy for them to access and update as necessary.
4. Classify and prioritize requests
If you’re using a project management tool, there are several ways you can classify and prioritize requests.
This is one of the most important steps in the feature request process because it’s your job to make sure that no single feature request takes up too much of your product development team's time.
For example, let’s say that your team has received a hundred feature requests and they want to be able to add new features for a better user experience. Now, how do you decide which ones are the most important?
You could simply rank them from highest priority to lowest priority by counting the number of votes each received. However, this method is flawed because it doesn’t take into account other factors like potential revenue or the customer that submitted the request.
If you’re already using a public roadmap, or a feedback management tool like IdeaPlan, it will be easier to prioritize feature requests. But even if you don’t, it’s possible to use the following process to rank them:
Step 1: Prioritize by number of votes received
Step 2: Prioritize by user engagement (followers)
Step 3: Prioritize by user engagement (active commenters)
Step 4: Prioritize by “t-shirt size” (i.e. how long does it take to implement?)
5. Maintain a public product roadmap to keep track of product development efforts
It is important to have a public product roadmap that shows all the upcoming features, planned and unplanned. This will help you keep track of what your team is doing and which features are most critical to build out.
You can also use this public roadmap to show other stakeholders how you’re going about planning for new features. This will give them an opportunity to provide input on how these features should be prioritized. It’s important that everyone involved in the process feels like they’re making a difference and being heard as part of the decision-making process.
If possible, involve end users in this planning effort so they feel like their opinions matter too and don’t feel like an afterthought or a nuisance when
How to manage feature requests
Managing feature requests is a challenging task, especially when you’re managing a SaaS product. For one thing, there are thousands of requests coming in every day, and for another, many of them are not useful for your business.
Here are some best practices to follow when handling feature requests:
- Be responsive. Feature request management is an important part of the job description for product managers and product owners alike; this is because you must be able to respond to all user feedback on time (and even sometimes before it has been sent). Answering all feature requests within 24 hours will keep your team accountable and ensure that any issues can be resolved quickly.
- Provide support through email or chat.
- Keep customers automatically updated based on the status of feature request.