How to determine your products scope
July 24, 2018
July 24, 2018
As a product manager, one of the best ways to manage your product is to define a clear and crisp definition of your products scope which lays out the long term vision of the product and also what type of features would be considered out of scope of what you are setting out to complete. This type of planning should be done early on at the start of the product and business planning and is often called your product roadmap. This product roadmap, would lay out the large chunks of work you plan to accomplish for a product at a high level and would not include the smaller details of specific changes, only the overall summary of a feature. With the out of scope list, you can ensure you know as well what features you are not planning to implement so you can quickly exclude any ideas and features related to those areas from your product roadmap as time goes on.
Laying out a five year product roadmap plan sets the stage for defining a small release scope. Why? Because each release you complete for your product to build additional features should add to your long term vision of where you are heading as a product team. Without an overall guidance of why you are adding each release, you are building a product blindly hoping that you are building in the direction you need to head but have no map or plan to what is your end destination. As a product manager, if you can maintain a long term product roadmap, you can then work back from there to create your smaller releases required to accomplish your long term vision and from there you have defined your products scope at the high level and release to release to accomplish the scope.
The reality is that something will always come up in your product vision which will make you change your product plan. This is why you should always keep your product roadmap at a high level and be flexible with it as you may need to bump the priorities of a feature out or bring it in based on your discovery during user interviews or competitive comparisons. Products scope should always start with ensuring you understand the business needs, the features your market segment needs to use your product and laying the feature delivery out over a timeline that your team can complete. With each release, there will always be small bugs or changes that need to be added to a scope any you should be leaving extra room with your planning for the unknown to pop up so your products scope to accomplish your vision within your product roadmap should only account for a percent of the overall scope of each release leaving capacity to support production, users and your other teams needs.
The biggest advantage of a product roadmap especially early on is to ensure each development hour you spend is focused on the bigger picture. Very often new product teams chase conversions and trials and build out features that one person asks for regardless if the change is within the products scope that they are working on. Their focus is to get their first conversion at all costs. While this is a great startup mentality to get the momentum and ball in motion, it is a very slippery slope if you are making product changes to add features to get 1 user but loose all of the development time and resources that could have been spent achieving your product vision to gain the large volume of users awaiting additional features. Always make sure your changes are within the scope you defined in your long term roadmap and worked into your small releases to accomplish the big picture.