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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Developing a list of features for current and future versions of the product - Part 10

This is a series of posts on how to define a list of features that will be used for current and future versions of an application. If an application needs to be successful, it is important that the application have a great list of features that attracts reviews as well as users. For this purpose, it is important to draw upon a significant list of people and users who can generate a list of features based on their usage of the product, and then it is upto the team, primarily the product manager, to organize these features into a list that will be defined by the priority of the features and the way that these features are managed in terms of which feature will make it into the current version of the product, and which feature will be added to future versions of the product. In the previous post (Developing a list of features for current and future versions of the product - Part 9) I talked about how a tool was used to capture these features, and how the Product Manager would be able to use the tool to review the features and decide the level of detail that is required for each of these features.
In this post, I will talk about how the Product Manager will try and group these features together into a logical set based on the overall feature set planned for the product. This is much easier to do when it is decided to have the next version of the application feature a specific area. So, let us consider the case of a software that generates greeting cards, after giving the user a chance to upload specific image clips, or use stock photography that is made available by the application, allows the user to add details in terms of messaging as well as using pre-determined messages and various other features. The software would let users do all this and then enter email id and name of the person to whom they would send out the email to. Now, the makers of the software felt that their competitors as well as the market were getting focused on using social networking for sending these cards as well. So, once the user has made a card, it was not required to send the card only in a 1:1 situation (which is what email would typically do), but the software would allow the user to post the card on the Facebook profile of the person to whom the card was intended for more people to see; similarly, the card could be posted on Pinterest, or sent via Twitter, and so on. All of these are new age social networking features that were missing in the application.
So, now the overall thrust area of the release was there (there would always be some minor areas that were also present, but these were the broad areas that the product would focus on). For this purpose, the Product Manager would review all the features in the tool that are focused on social networking, get an initial list, and then do a quick prioritization of the features that seem the most important. This would be an initial prioritization, and in most cases, this initial list would be presented to senior management of the team for a review as well, and changes made if required after discussion. Thus, the final selected features from the list would be taken up, with a mix of major and minor features being there in the list (with the ones that are not selected having a note added about why these features were not selected, and some of them might get the tag about being rejected as well). Once this final selected list is available, the team can then use this list for further detailing.

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