Building products collaboratively with Productboard
The people who spoke at our 2021 Product Excellence Summit came from a wide range of companies – project planning startups, developer tool providers and more – but they tended to have at least two things in common.
- First, those working in product roles had a huge need to ensure they could not only work well with the rest of their team, but with teams and stakeholders across other departments.
- The second common characteristic, of course, is that they turned to Productboard as a means of fostering that level collaboration.
We took a deeper dive into what this looks like in practice during a session hosted by Productboard group product manager Sophie Lalonde. Her guests included Tiffany Go, marketing lead at ShortCut; Cloe Nicholls, product marketing manager, digital research at SimilarWeb, and Manuel Pereira, lead product operations manager at OutSystems.
This edited recap will help you catch up on what you might have missed, including ideas on how to boost collaboration within your own organization.
And if you like what you read here, join us for the 2022 Product Excellence Summit on October 4th, 2022 — in person in San Francisco or online!
Tiffany, I know we’ve talked a lot about bridging that gap between product and customer facing teams. What was it like before you used Productboard and what are some of the outcomes that you’ve seen after?
Tiffany Go: Before we got Productboard, I think we were doing a really great job of collaborating during the build and development phase. But where we had a gap was really having a tool where we could warn people across the organization to help them understand why certain product decisions are being made. I think the second issue was around customer feedback and making sure that all the different inputs are in one place and then we could use those insights to then drive the product roadmap forward. So we’ve been using Productboard for a little over a year now and I think two clear benefits have really emerged:
- The first is that it has really helped us build a culture of transparency and visibility and alignment around what the product roadmap actually is.
- I think the second has been encouraging more strategic conversations, because you can see insights about the customer impact score is going to be, or even what the customer-facing teams are saying — people are actually seeing what is driving those decisions.
Manuel Pereira: For us, Productboard enables everyone to speak the same language. We all know that sometimes it can be easy to fall into our own silos. The fact that we’re all having these conversations based on Productboard enables everyone to have conversations with more transparency. So even if we’re not agreeing on everything, we have all the important information about the decisions being made. That really helps speed things up in general alignment and in working together.
Cloe Nicholls: Prior to using Productboard, I don’t think we had somewhere to centralize a lot of our teams’ feedback. We had Zendesk and Confluence, and we use a lot of chat and email, obviously. We had a lot of PowerPoint decks to share what was coming up on the roadmap, but it was very static. Productboard has now become a tool where that feedback can be funneled into a place where people in our Go to Market (GTM) team, for instance, can go to be heard with the product team. There was a gap beforehand, and I think we’ve closed that gap.
“There was a gap before [Productboard], and I think we’ve closed that gap.”
-Cloe Nicholls, SimilarWeb
I’m curious how you used Productboard to ensure that all your key stakeholders are aligned.
MP: First of all, Productboard already has some embedded capabilities to provide visibility to what’s happening when people provide feedback. They know the initiatives that they were assigned to, they know the expected timeframe. They know the product manager responsible for that initiative, so they can follow up with them offline. We build processes on top of that that show what we’re going to tackle now and what we’re going to look for later. That really helps us close the loop and keep everyone engaged, so that everyone knows their feedback is not just falling into ether.
Is there a type of standardization between teams so that you can roll up all that feedback and see what’s going on across all the teams?
MP: Yes, it’s standardization. On top of that we have regular meetings with the different teams that we onboard into product for protocols and to provide updates. And we kind of provide a little bit of gamification: we show the last month’s or last quarter’s feedback. We let everyone know who the champions were. We have some friendly competition in that some teams provide more feedback than others, and that that helps drive adoption as well.
Amazing. And what’s the prize for this competition for feedback? I want to be part of it.
MP: Well, so far, I think we’ve been getting by with providing a free lunch or something like that, but it’s going to get even more competitive, so we’ll be looking at other ideas, too.
What about launching products? How do you all do that? What’s the process?
CN: For a feature release, we grade it into whether it’s a small, medium or large feature. And I think with Productboard where that really comes into its own is in the earliest start of the roadmap process. We do it in an Agile quarterly process. We’ll rally around all these feature ideas that have been submitted within the quarter, and then we bring customer insights and lay that over to help with prioritization. Then we share a shortlist with our internal team, which includes solutions teams as well as business and strategy teams. We evaluate the business impact from there. During that entire process, I think it’s all about connecting that data that we gather to what the product team and R&D see as business value for our customers, because we’re an insights platform. And so that’s kind of where I see the importance of using Productboard from the very start. It means we set ourselves up for really good alignment on metrics that we need to track.
“That’s where I see the importance of using Productboard from the very start. It means we set ourselves up for really good alignment on metrics that we need to track.”
-Cloe Nicholls, SimilarWeb
TG: So much of what I do at Shortcut is around positioning. And so when I’m trying to really get to the meat of the value, and how customers are talking about things or what their problems are, Productboard has been really, really helpful with framing positioning and tying it back to a larger product story. We actually just launched a Productboard Shortcut integration a couple of months ago, and I got to work with some of the product team. We were able to talk to a couple of customers through the portal. I’ll definitely be doing a lot more of that for feature launches at Shortcut.
This conversation was lightly edited for flow and the job descriptions match what was true for each person at the time of the interview. And if you loved it, please register to join us for this year’s summit!