The longer your product is in the market, the longer you should expect your product backlog to be. That’s just the nature of the beast. Don’t let it stress you. When people are passionate about your product, they want to make it better. It’s well worth embracing, albeit with the right mindset.

It is, however, awfully difficult to embrace a list of feature requests that grows by the day, especially when the merit of some requests are highly questionable.

Adopt the following mindset and you’ll find some welcome relief.

The whole point of improving your product is to make users quantifiably better at one or more job tasks, right? If you agree, then think of your product backlog as a customer outcome backlog, not an out-of-control product enhancement list.

The Remedy

Do this. For each of your users, define the goal of their job, the ultimate benefit to their organization if that job is done to perfection. Then list the key job tasks they perform, without the details of “how” they perform each one.

For example, a payroll administrator routinely performs about 10 key job tasks, give or take, to successfully manage and execute the payroll function.

A customer service rep performs 8-12 key job tasks to resolve customer inquiries and issues.

Now that you have the job tasks defined, do this. As each enhancement request comes in, bucket it under the user job task that it impacts most. You’re now managing 12 or so buckets, not a list with hundreds of feature requests.

The Benefits

Here’s the best part. Prioritizing your product backlog gets a whole lot easier.

First, determine the job tasks that if improved, produce the most desirable and beneficial outcomes to the user and their organization. Then determine the features that best deliver those outcomes.

Prioritized backlog done! Time for sprint planning (if you’re Agile).

Want to learn a simple outcome-based approach to product management and marketing? Contact Proficientz about an onsite workshop or subscribe to Product Management University On-Demand and learn how portfolio product management can help you deliver higher-value solutions with less stress and less effort.

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