When Brano Sandala moved from product design to product management, his organization, Kentico, was on the verge of a major innovation. With today’s increasing number of content channels — social, wearables, chatbots — the notion of a CMS as a web page management solution seem increasingly outdated. The Kentico team sensed an opportunity and set out to deliver a new kind of CMS, one that would help developers and marketers alike create and manage written content in a single cloud repository, and then push it out through any number of channels when ready.
Brano’s team started by devising customer journey maps to explore what jobs their new product should solve, but were missing a way to outline their actual MVP. After all, the MVP was a set of hypotheses about what functionality the product should include, and that still needed to be tested. As feedback rolled in from early user research, they wanted a way to link it to related feature ideas they’d planned.
“At first we were aggregating feedback in one Excel sheet, and had our customer journey described in another. But we had no adequate way to connect them and see what frequency we were receiving different kinds of feedback. In fact, a lot of the feedback was getting lost altogether. It was falling through the cracks because we didn’t have an adequate process for logging it.”
That’s when they found productboard. It offered a single place to aggregate all the feedback for their MVP, whether it came from Intercom, email, or notes from user interviews. Once there, they knew it wouldn’t get lost or buried, and the most important user insights could be highlighted and linked to related feature ideas where they’d always be on hand during prioritization, design, and development. The Kentico team also used the Features board to outline the major user needs they were looking to tackle, and beneath them, the features that could address those needs.
This had a significant impact on the direction of the product. For example, when some users asked for the ability to edit source HTML, his team was able to track these requests and follow up with the individuals who made them. After further investigation, they revealed that majority of users were really looking to customize link attributes in order to open links in new windows. With this new understanding, Kentico was able to devise a better solution.
As Kentico Cloud came to life, the team used productboard to plan strategic initiatives on three month horizons. productboard could then help them see, on an ongoing basis, whether their plans should be updated based on incoming feedback.
“Even with our plans laid out for the coming months, we use productboard as a quick check to see what people have been asking for lately. I’ve never had the opportunity to consider this kind of data before. Attempting to track this without productboard would be insanely tedious. In fact, I’m not sure it would be possible.”
With productboard, the whole product management team reviews incoming feedback on an ongoing basis but discuss it more intensively every few weeks. When they come across something that would be of interest to another PM on the team, they can @mention them in a comment or assign the feedback directly to them. On occasion, a piece of feedback triggers an epiphany around un-met user needs. That may inspire a restructuring of their Features board. The drag-n-drop flexibility helps them quickly experiment with different ways of organizing the product, and data columns like User segments help them keep track of which features are deal-breakers for which types of users.
With productboard, Kentico Cloud was able to power their early product experiments and grow into the leading headless CMS. It has helped structure strategic conversations, and surface user insights that may have been missed altogether. That helps product managers prioritize, but also provides valuable context to designers and developers who can access original feature ideas in productboard. From there, every member of the team can see all the user feedback that inspired those features in the first place.
“Thanks to the context in productboard, the dev teams are really engaged. It improves the team’s empathy for customers and helps them be more goal-oriented — ‘we are working on these features because of these reasons’ — rather than mindlessly coding off a spec. From productboard they can even drill into the original Intercom conversation and ask followup questions, plan design interviews and usability tests, and solicit feedback on wireframes.”
As Brano explains, productboard facilitates their team’s efforts on multiple fronts. It doesn’t just help the product managers, it supports the entire product team.
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