Product development planning with a focus on identifying customer pain points and writing user stories can be a powerful approach for developing products that meet the needs of customers and address their pain points. Product Managers identify customer pain points through customer interviews, surveys, focus groups, or other methods. Once the pain points have been identified, they use them to write user stories that describe the problem that the product is trying to solve and the benefits that it will deliver to customers. User stories are written in a way that clearly communicates the value that the product will provide to customers and the specific problems it will solve.
Here are a few examples of good user stories:
- “As a busy professional, I want a calendar feature that syncs with my work and personal schedules so that I can easily see all of my appointments in one place.”
- “As a frequent traveller, I want a mobile app that allows me to book flights, hotels, and rental cars in one place, so that I can easily plan and book my trips.”
- “As a student, I want a note-taking app that allows me to take notes, highlight important text, and organize my notes by class or subject, so that I can stay organized and study more effectively.”
- “As a small business owner, I want an invoicing and payment system that allows me to create and send invoices to my clients, track payments, and manage my finances, so that I can focus on running my business.”
User stories are brief, simple descriptions of a feature or capability that a product should provide, written from the perspective of the user. Product managers then prioritize the user stories based on their importance to the target market and their potential impact on the business. This can help product managers focus on the most valuable and impactful features and capabilities first.
Let me introduce you to INVEST model. The INVEST model is a powerful guideline for crafting effective user stories that ensure successful product development in an Agile environment. Each letter in INVEST represents essential characteristics that user stories should possess. “Independent” emphasizes that stories should be self-contained and not dependent on other stories for completion. “Negotiable” highlights the flexibility of user stories to allow for adjustments and changes during development. “Valuable” underscores the importance of delivering tangible value to end-users. “Estimable” ensures that user stories are clear and well-defined enough for accurate estimation. “Small” encourages breaking down complex tasks into manageable pieces. Lastly, “Testable” stresses the need for specific acceptance criteria to validate the successful implementation of each user story. By adhering to the INVEST model, product managers can write user stories that facilitate collaboration, prioritize effectively, and maximize the value delivered to customers.
Let’s look at the user story, “As a small business owner, I want an invoicing and payment system that allows me to create and send invoices to my clients, track payments, and manage my finances, so that I can focus on running my business.”
The above follows the INVEST model as follows:
Independent: The user story stands alone and does not rely on other stories for its functionality. It addresses the specific needs of the small business owner without being dependent on unrelated features.
Negotiable: The user story allows for flexibility in implementation. It provides the business owner with the freedom to explore various options and solutions for an invoicing and payment system that best fits their unique requirements.
Valuable: The user story delivers clear value to the small business owner by providing a comprehensive invoicing and payment system. It directly supports their business operations, streamlining financial management processes and enabling them to focus on core business activities.
Estimable: The user story is well-defined and specific, making it easy for the development team to estimate the effort and resources required to implement the invoicing and payment system.
Small: Although the user story covers multiple features (create and send invoices, track payments, and manage finances), it is still reasonably scoped and can be effectively broken down into smaller, manageable tasks during implementation.
Testable: The user story includes clear criteria for success. The development team can verify that the invoicing and payment system functions correctly by testing the creation and sending of invoices, payment tracking, and financial management capabilities.
By following the INVEST model, this user story ensures that the small business owner’s needs are well understood, can be efficiently implemented, and will provide tangible value to the business, aligning with the principles of Agile development.
The art of product prioritization
Product prioritization is a crucial aspect of product management, requiring data-driven insights to make informed decisions that align with strategic goals. To navigate this complex landscape, product managers have a powerful arsenal of tools at their disposal. Let’s explore some of the most effective tools and templates that can transform your prioritization process into a structured and successful venture:
The RICE framework is a popular tool that assesses initiatives based on four key factors — Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. By scoring each factor on a numerical scale, you can objectively prioritize projects with higher RICE scores, indicating their potential impact on the product and the business.
Example RICE Template:
Reach: Estimated number of users impacted.
Impact: Expected positive impact on users or business metrics.
Confidence: Level of certainty in the impact estimation (e.g., high, medium, low).
Effort: Estimated development effort required.
RICE Score: Calculated as (Reach x Impact x Confidence) / Effort.
The Kano Model helps distinguish between basic, performance, and delight factors in features. By categorizing user preferences, you can prioritize features that offer the most delight to users, creating a delightful and memorable product experience.
Example Kano Model Template:
Basic: Features that are expected by users (e.g., login functionality).
Performance: Features that enhance satisfaction when present (e.g., personalized recommendations).
Delight: Unexpected features that pleasantly surprise users (e.g., a unique interactive feature).
The MoSCoW method categorizes requirements into four priority levels — Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won’t Have. This helps product managers clearly communicate priorities to stakeholders and ensures essential features are addressed first.
Example MoSCoW Template:
Must Have: Critical features required for the product’s core functionality.
Should Have: Important features that enhance the product’s value.
Could Have: Nice-to-have features that can be included if resources permit.
Won’t Have: Features that are currently out of scope for the project.
Weighted Scoring Model:
The Weighted Scoring Model allows you to assign weights to different criteria based on their importance. By evaluating and scoring features against these criteria, you can objectively rank and prioritize initiatives.
Example Weighted Scoring Model Template:
Criteria 1 (e.g., Strategic Alignment): Weight (e.g., 30%), Score (e.g., 8/10), Weighted Score (30% * 8/10).
Criteria 2 (e.g., Market Demand): Weight (e.g., 20%), Score (e.g., 7/10), Weighted Score (20% * 7/10).
Criteria 3 (e.g., Technical Feasibility): Weight (e.g., 15%), Score (e.g., 6/10), Weighted Score (15% * 6/10).
Total Weighted Score: Sum of all weighted scores.
The RICE framework offers a data-driven approach to prioritize potential features or initiatives based on their expected impact, user reach, confidence in estimations, and development effort. This tool is particularly valuable when product managers need to objectively rank projects and allocate resources efficiently.
The Kano Model, on the other hand, helps distinguish between basic, performance, and delight factors in features, allowing product managers to prioritize those that create a delightful user experience and set their product apart from competitors.
In scenarios where resources are limited or stakeholder alignment is challenging, the MoSCoW Method provides a clear categorization of features into Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won’t Have priorities. This aids in communicating priorities effectively and ensures critical features are addressed first.
For product managers dealing with multiple criteria or dimensions in feature evaluation, the Weighted Scoring Model comes in handy. It allows them to assign different weights based on the importance of each criterion, objectively rank features, and make well-balanced decisions.