Product Makers Summit – March 21st – Registration is now OPEN
Meltwater, a SaaS product suite built for PR, Communications and Marketing teams, enables companies to track millions of social media posts, blogs and news sites to discover what people are saying about them. The trove of information that Meltwater provides serves as a window into customers’ minds.
Built on the idea that listening to customers matters, Meltwater prides itself on listening to its own customers, too. That’s part of the reason that the company was looking for a product management tool that makes it easy to incorporate and act on feedback from customers and from the company’s sales team. They were also eager to find a more scientific approach to prioritization and to allow other employees to easily access and understand the product roadmap.
Here’s what Meltwater’s VP for Product Management Timothy Santos had to say about why Productboard was the right solution for the job:
Prior to Productboard, we had two separate tools that we were using. One was for feedback where we were gathering input. The other was our roadmapping tool.
Our team would receive a ton of feedback but had no easy way to connect that feedback to the product roadmaps. The process was very manual and time consuming.
The organization used to be split into external-facing product management and internal-facing product management; product managers and product owners. Then, we combined those two units.
I had an opportunity and a challenge to try to create better alignment. We needed to align the external input that product management was getting from sales and customers and feed that more directly into the product roadmaps.
I also wanted to consolidate the tools that we were using — to support the newly consolidated team.
I was looking for something that gave me both the feedback management side as well as the roadmap side.
I found myself particularly intrigued by any tool that supported different ways to prioritize work. I believe that any roadmap is a good roadmap, as long as it’s defensible – but a lot of the times it was hard to demonstrate why we chose to prioritize the way we did. So one of the features I was looking for was that tie-in of what we were planning to actual feedback or insights. That way, I could demonstrate to external audiences: this is what we’re doing based upon customer feedback, sales feedback, data, our company objectives and the scores driven by those objectives. That more scientific and flexible way of prioritizing was important.
The second aspect that was important was managing feedback. I think where other tools failed is that they just became this giant list of comments and that was it. There was nothing built-in that promoted collaboration or workflow within the product team. I needed something that I could define some team processes around. That was particularly important.
The final thing was just the roadmaps themselves. At the end of the day, people just wanted to see the features that we were planning and when they would be done.
I also needed some flexibility in how we structured our roadmaps — specifically in being able to create different views for different audiences, depending upon how they thought about our product priorities and the product. For example, I have some people that just want to know features planned month over month, but I have others that are interested in how the work we are planning ties to objectives and yet others that think about our roadmaps in terms of marketing launches.
What I needed was a tool that provided me a single source of truth, that I could just pivot in different ways, as opposed to having to create different roadmaps that were disconnected from one another for different audiences.
I would say probably the most useful features are the prioritization scores, the ability to associate segments, the ability to capture specific feedback from specific users and the ability to pivot roadmap views based upon different data points.
Previously, if someone wanted the roadmap from one of my product areas they would struggle to find the most recent and accurate version. Now, I just say “go to Productboard.”
My team’s communication is supported by the tool in that they can now look at and use it as a source of truth, versus having to share or create presentations. In that way, it’s caused more internal alignment.
Externally, I’m seeing people that aren’t in product being champions of products’ roadmaps. It’s democratized the conversation about what our priorities are and why.
I would say that there is a better understanding of what we’re doing and why. I’m not receiving as many low-level questions about what our priorities are and what’s driving them.
We also established a regular roadmap review for the various product areas, where it’s not just the product owners or product managers in the room but also product marketing, support, engineering and management. All coming in and stating what priorities they think we should have based on the inputs they’re getting.
Everyone has an opportunity to provide their point of view, and understand and influence our plans. That inclusive, wider discussion was facilitated by Productboard. It’s probably one of the bigger things that I don’t think I would have been able to do without the tool in place.
It’s also given me the ability to, at any point in time when getting questioned about what we’re doing, have the information, at whatever level of detail, at my fingertips.
We’ve had instances where a note has come in from a critical client that has been associated with a feature that was scheduled to be out in two, three, or four months. My team has recognized those as something that could be reprioritized and done more quickly to be more responsive to customers’ needs.
Meltwater’s product and engineering teams alike strive to be inclusive, making sure that everyone at all levels can be part of the product conversation. From hackathons to “unconferences,” the organization knows that anyone can add value and that everyone should have the chance to be in on the discussion. Now, Productboard can help them do it.
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