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How Everstring’s product team decides what to work on next

The process Everstring uses to prioritize its product backlog in ProdPad

Ajay Dawar has an ongoing executive order at Everstring, where he serves as Global VP of Product:

“Ignore what the ideas are. Focus on what the ideas will do for our customers.”

Ajay has no shortage of ideas. At a company of 150, his backlog is always full with suggestions from sales, marketing, support, engineering and his own product team.

For Ajay, the challenge has always been getting all those people to agree on what the most important thing is to work on next.

“It’s very hard to get 6 people into a room and look at 600 ideas and get 6 people to agree on that,” he says.

But with ProdPad, Ajay has found a way to narrow hundreds of ideas down to a few high-impact decisions rather than lots of little inconsequential ones.

Ajay plans a solid 90-day release with the entire company’s input with ProdPad – and without dragging everyone into a room to debate a long list of feature requests.

Tag every idea with themes and business goals

Everyone at the company drops their ideas in a single idea backlog in ProdPad. In the first round, Ajay and his product team sort through and apply each of these three tags to each idea:

  • EXTERNAL (what can we communicate outside the company)
  • INTERNAL (what internal goals will this help us reach?)
  • VALUE (what value will this create for the customer?)

“The biggest value for me is tagging. If I couldn’t tag with ProdPad, this process wouldn’t exist,” he says.

Then he moves it into a spreadsheet that no one gets to look at – yet.

Choose the most important thing to solve for the next release

Each 90-day release revolves around a single theme. Without reaching for the backlog, ProdPad or anything, Ajay asks the head of each team plus the exec team this question:

“In the next 90 days, what’s the most important thing for us?”

This is the hardest part because it can only be one thing, says Ajay. Increasing revenues? Acquiring customers? Up-selling our existing customer base?

They debate and discuss, and then decide on what one problem is worth focusing on for the next 90 days.

Filter for ideas that fall under that theme

Ajay is no longer considering the full backlog, just the ones in that fall under that one theme. For example, if they agree that their #1 challenge is to improve customer satisfaction, he’ll filter for that were tagged as “improve customer satisfaction.”

That narrows down the list from hundreds of ideas to a few.

Stack rank those ideas by impact vs. effort

“Ideas themselves are useless. ProdPad helps us make a decision based on what they do for for our customers and for us as a company,” says Ajay.

The PM team will work with the engineering team and decide which of those ideas will have the biggest impact and biggest improvements to their customers’ experience.

By this time, he can approve those final decisions himself, because the teams had already signed off on what theme and which ideas were important to them.

“At that point it’s more of an FYI,” says Ajay. The product team finalizes the specs and pushes them over to development.

There is inherently a lot of friction in the process when you’re dealing with hundreds of ideas. I use ProdPad to narrow down those down to themes, so I can discuss with stakeholders what we want to accomplish, or what problem we want to solve next.

Ajay Dawar

Global VP of Product