Long back logs of important features. What do you do?

Lulu Cheng
7 replies
We launched our MVP: https://www.producthunt.com/post... and was fortunate enough to get a few paying customers and quite some free-tier users as well. We are bombarded w/ loads of features in backlog. All of them are critical improvements. Trying our best to manually mitigate these issues for the time being. Curious what you'd do in this situation? Currently I'm the only engineer and I know based on my experience this is a downward spiral (engineering-wise) we are shipping faster but putting less checks in place. Perhaps a good sign for a product itself. 1. find people to help (which might be an even more difficult task to find funding first) 2. prioritize and learn to live w/ growing manual hack and apologizing to customers in the meanwhile one of them is a critical bug fix, one of them is key to generate revenue, one of them is a long awaited feature asked by most customers on the platform. do people recommend any framework for this type of prioritization or has experience in similar situation?

Replies

Automating Project Management
Hey Lulu, since your capacity is limited, I would strongly recommend effective prioritization. You should focus on getting highest impact work done ASAP. Based on the options you have given, I would recommend a cost of delay framework. Can you put a $ value on what it would cost you if each of these features were delayed by a week? A month? Use that on the numerator. Use the effort estimate for each on the denominator. The ratio should give you a priority rank (This is as per The Principles of Product Development Flow). I wrote about prioritization frameworks here, if you would like to read further: https://nirvana.work/posts/prior... If you find others who can help you, this priority order will still help you make the best decision with your limited resources. Hope it all works out!
Building stuff
@nyootron thank you so much. this is so helpful. will give it a try. just curious, do product management run estimate like this every sprint or this is for maybe quarterly planning?
Automating Project Management
@lulu_cheng1 We used to do this every sprint. We're all working with evolving information, so if you get any info that suggests that you should update your priorities, it's usually best to do so ASAP
Co-Founder & CEO of OpinionX
Hey @lulu_cheng1 - I feel your pain! Not being able to crank that shipping output rate up as a team of one is really frustrating (especially when your backlog includes bugs as well as features). What you're essentially looking to do here is to stack rank the problems your customers/users are experiencing based on what they feel is most important to solve. Understanding this with prioritization frameworks is actually really hard, but you could use the Customer Problem Stack Ranking method from Stripe: https://opinionx.co/blog/custome... The CPSR method is described in that article for idea validation, but I've used the exact same approach to get user input for our own startup's roadmap prioritization. Instead of including features, I personally prefer to convert those backlog tickets into the problems they intend to solve. This tells me a lot more about the actual problems customers are experiencing rather than which of my feature ideas they like the best.
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Building stuff
@daniel_kyne thank you so much. yes, i've been trying to look for similar tool like this for quite a while and didn't know there's a hosted version. thank you so much. will definitely try it out, especially polling for features. would love to hear your thoughts on if there's similar methodology that'd be applicable to internal tech improvement - the most painful struggle for me is that i know as an engineer if i don't solve the harder technical problem now i will have to sacrifice my sleep soon, but if we don't acquire more users to continue to prove out the concept, all these work might just go to waste. i understand this must be a very common struggle for product people out there, would love to learn more from experienced PM how they have made different decisions in similar situations.
Co-Founder & CEO of OpinionX
@lulu_cheng1 that's a very fair follow up question. My honest answer is that I'm not sure how I would have gotten to this point if I was working alone. My co-founder and I share these two burdens of technical progress and commercial progress. Other than finding someone to work with you, this mindset from Reid Hoffman might help: https://podcasts.apple.com/pk/po...
Building stuff
@daniel_kyne Yes, it definitely resonates a lot. Looking at problem this way definitely helps and I cannot agree more. Thank you so much for this.