Usually, when we talk about product management, we talk about our user and how our product will either solve a problem for the user or simply “delight” the user. Either is a good way to look for new product ideas and new features.
However, “user benefit” is just one bucket out of many that a new product or feature can “fill.” By “fill” I mean that the new product can work even if it isn’t satisfying criteria defined by the “user benefit” bucket but by meeting criteria in another bucket. Filling buckets helps product managers verify the appeal of their product to the different stakeholders, including getting management to greenlight development.
So, a few buckets that I usually check products against, though usually every company will have their own set:
1. User benefit: how is the product/feature going to benefit existing users of the product and will it entice new ones?
2. Company goals: will the new product meet corporate goals such as retention of existing users, activation of new users and generating income?
3. Competitive goals: what is our competition doing and is this product/feature something we need to stay competitive? This also goes applies with the user retention test because if our competition has something that we don’t, are we going to lose users?
4. Marketing goals: maybe the new product isn’t going to fill any of the above buckets but it’s really cool and get us press coverage and maybe as a result, it will generate more users to existing features. This also applies when an important conference is coming up and you’d like to announce something attention-getting.
5. Tie-in to our existing product range? This is more of a question of corporate product strategy: if our strategy is to do everything mobile, is this product helping? Also in terms of the existing resources: do we have what it takes to develop and make this product?
Facebook launched two very different features yesterday which provide a great example of bucket filling. First, they launched a tool that, based on the comments, I guess has been requested by business users for a while: the ability to reply to comments on pages. This may seem trivial but it fills not only the user bucket (#1 above) but also the corporate bucket (#2.)
Second, they launched the “Nearby Friends” feature that allows you to see which of your friends is near by. The launched definitely made hat made quite a splash (filling bucket #4) may fill the user benefit bucket (#1) as some users really like it. It also is a mobile only feature (#5) and gives Facebook more information about the user (#2) which they like.
So you see, different products can and do fill different buckets. By defining buckets that are relevant to your business and your goals you make it easier to judge new products and features