How to Improve your Product with Limited Resources

If a Product Manager was given three wishes, I’m willing to bet one of them would be an infinite amount of resources to work with.

Unfortunately, genies are in short supply, and there’s no such thing as infinite resources.

This gives Product teams a bit of a problem. In fact, it gives the whole organization a bit of a problem.

And B2B SaaS companies are left with the ultimate question:

“It’s impossible to build everything we’d like to, so how can we improve our product?”

I’m not going to lie and tell you there’s an easy answer to this question. There isn’t.

But what I can do is point you in the right direction. There are three things you need to do in order to start improving your product with limited resources.

So let’s get cracking…

1. Segment

analyzing feedback

Chances are, the real reason you’re asking this question is because you’re inundated with feedback and feature requests, and have a product backlog the length of the Nile.

As much as you’d love to build them all, you can’t. You don’t have the resources.

So, how do you choose which feedback to focus on?

You have to segment your data.

To do this, you need to go back to your product strategy. If you don’t have one, you should probably get one sorted.

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Your strategy should tell you what your goals and objectives are for the upcoming month, or quarter, or year.

For example, your goal might be to close more Enterprise deals in the Education sector. We’ll call them Double E’s.

That might seem a little too detailed, but that’s important when you have a large product backlog.

By defining a specific goal, you’re now able to segment your data and focus on feedback that your current Double E customers have given.

Logically, it stands to reason that if your current Double E customers want something, then your Double E prospects will want it too.

Segmenting your data means you can drill down into a specific group of users, instantly eliminating a lot of currently unnecessary feedback.

2. Prioritize

manage feedback

Of course, if you’re a large Enterprise company yourself, then you’ll have a load of feedback left to sort through, EVEN after segmenting.

How do you know what’s the most important? What do your Double E customers really want?

The solution to this is prioritization.

If you aren’t already, you should be collecting prioritization data from your customers.

I know that a lot of Product managers like to do this themselves, but the trouble is it doesn’t scale, and you don’t always know exactly what your customers want the most.

Related: Product Managers Shouldn’t Prioritize

By allowing your customers to provide their own priorities, you free yourself up to make the big, high-level decisions. Let’s face it, that’s the best part of the job.

So you take the data you’ve segmented, and then you use your customers’ priorities to determine which ideas you should be working on first.

It’s also wise, at this stage, to determine how much effort each of the requests will take to build, and plot an effort-value chart like the one below.

prioritize feature requests

This way you can easily identify any quick wins, and also spot which ideas will take up far too much resources.

3. Saying No

A lot of companies find it hard to say ‘no’ to customers. They’re scared of backlash, of angry customers, of churn.

Maybe they have a point. But regardless, saying ‘no’ is something you simply have to get used to.

Technically, this isn’t part of the answer to the initial question. This won’t help you improve your product with limited resources.

But I’ve included it as a final step because it’s an important, no, crucial, thing to do.

If your customers have taken the time to provide feedback, the least you can do is inform them when you decide to say ‘no’.

It can be a tough conversation, but it doesn’t have to be.

The thing is, because of your prioritization data, you have a valid reason to say ‘no’. You can point them at the data you’ve assembled and tell them that it simply isn’t a priority, or that it would take too much effort for the value you’d gain.

That explanation is key. If you have a valid reason, they can’t be angry, at least not for long.

You owe it to your customers to explain why you’re not building their suggestion.

Summary

To conclude:

  • If you have limited resources, it’s still possible to improve your product.

  • Start by segmenting your feedback to a specific group of users, based on your product strategy.

  • Next, see what their priorities are, and build up an effort-value chart to identify quick wins.

  • Finally, make sure to communicate back to customers, even if it’s to say ‘no’.

Best of luck!

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