Product Management Planning Process for a Startup

Product management is one of the most strategic and critical components of startups. While the best products don’t always win, great products in a great market are almost always successful. Unfortunately, product management is still much more art than science, although actionable data is becoming more prevalent.

Here’s an example product management planning process:

  • Create a simple Google Spreadsheet with sheets for different constituencies
  • Solicit requests from sales, marketing, services, support, client advocates, product management, and engineering in individual sheets
  • Review the customer idea exchange and take the top 10 most popular items and 20 other items that have the most bang-for-the-buck and add them to a new sheet
  • Analyze trends from the 100 most recent support tickets and confirm the big ones are in the Google Spreadsheet
  • Categorize every item based on priority (low, medium, high) and difficulty (low, medium, high)
  • Get a group of stakeholders together, no more than five people, and debate everything that’s been assembled and decide on the items for the next quarter
  • Share the quarterly roadmap with the team and create alignment
  • Repeat each quarter

Product management planning and roadmaps should be fluid with 20% of the quarterly time allocation left open for new items that might arise. There’s no perfect product management planning session but with a thorough process, proper categorizing of issues based on Covey’s quad one and quad two, and hard work, the results will be invaluable.

What else? What are your thoughts on this example product management planning process for a startup?

2 thoughts on “Product Management Planning Process for a Startup

  1. I’d be looking for more customer and prospect input on this, to avoid building something only people inside the company think is useful. Rapid prototyping techniques as advocated in Lean Startup and elsewhere can bring more of an outside-in focus to this activity.

    Consider goals as well – if you’re trying to make inroads with a particular market segment, selecting features that segment values can help.

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