TL;DR: Good ideas sometimes come in the form of epics.
Here’s a “Five Ws & an H” “approach to getting them initially prioritized right.
As a product manager, I need a way to initially prioritize new epics.
An idea walks into a JIRA backlog. The product owner says, “Hey, we have an epic named after you!” The idea responds, “You have an epic named Murray?”
As stupid as the above joke may be, I wish I were kidding when I say that I’ve witnessed individuals in product, UX, and software development immediately dismiss ideas incoming from those outside of their ‘domain of expertise.’
Me? A good idea is a good idea regardless if it comes from a highly trained and experienced expert, or the awesome individual serving me lunch from their food truck.
Put another way, since I don’t know what I don’t know, I would prefer to discuss, debate, and dialog on features of value rather than summarily dismiss them.
That said, sometimes the incoming idea is slightly larger than a bread-box. Actually, they’re the size of epics.
Let’s say you’ve fielded a simple news reader app that ingests RSS feeds and displays updates on all the players on your fantasy football team.
One of the individuals enjoying your product gives you a 4-Star review stating “… I’d give this app 5 stars, but there’s no way to share articles via social.”
Congratulations, you now have a ‘Go Social’ epic in your backlog, along with a handful of others. What now?
How do we initially prioritize incoming epic idea? Glad you asked.
Below is a guideline — not rules — but mere 5w’s based suggestions you might want to consider when serving-up a freshly baked epic such as our ‘Go Social’ idea:
- Who are the clients and/or potential clients asking for feature ‘Go Social’? What impact do they have on revenue if the ‘Go Social’ epic is deferred and/or not delivered?
- What in the current News Reader product roadmap would need to be deferred and/or ditched to deliver the ‘Go Social’ epic? Does the product roadmap need to be re-factored with the introduction of ‘Go Social’
- When is the last responsible moment in which we would need to deliver News Reader ‘Go Social?’ What is the impact on revenue by addressing the need later instead of sooner?
- Where does ‘Go Social’ need to be implemented in terms of platform? For example, does the initial focus need to be on mobile? If so, do we focus on Android first, or does responsive design get us 80% to where we are going?
- Why is ‘Go Social’ important? What problem does it solve? Is the problem within the scope of this product? Does the problem reflect the majority of our clients existing or otherwise?
- How do we implement and support ‘Go Social’? Meaning, if ‘Go Social’ is an API, then do need to be supported with auto-scaling? Who is on the hook at 3am to make this happen?
Now for you HyperScrumDamentalists, please keep in mind that the above are not meant to be prescriptive, but rather thought-provoking and discussion-inducing. Moreover, I’m sure there are other approaches to incoming epic ideas that are equally useful; so if you’ve got’m, share’m.
That said, I’ve found the above approach useful in getting the epic rightly placed in the product roadmap, at least initially. I think you might too. At least that’s my theory, and I’m sticking with it until the data proves otherwise.