Product strategy

My learnings with feature requests and product backlogs.
From the company's early days, the goal was to grow. In doing so, we did many things our clients asked for, some of them not beneficial to our long-term growth. This is not a rare problem B2B SaaS companies have to face, and I ended up being in charge of it.
My Contributions
I organized the product backlog and managed the requirements of every team member in the company and every stakeholder. I managed to create and execute the product strategy working closely with the dev team.
In the early stages of a B2B company, you work almost full-time for your first clients. This means you end up having lots of meetings with stakeholders, you hear all of their problems, and then you go back to the office to figure out how your software could help them so you can present a proposal at the next meeting and move on.

This worked great for us at the beginning because we could learn about the business we were trying to help, and it also allowed us to build empathy with those first stakeholders, but it was not scalable. We ended up with a considerable backlog, impossible to finish, and we were receiving feature requests from every customer and every area of the company, something needed to change.

As you start to grow, you can't handle all the client's requirements, you need to prioritize, and you have to learn to prioritize. So, in early 2019 I convinced my company that I would like to work full-time as a product manager to solve these issues.
Product origins
Infinite backlog
2017 — 2019
Early in 2019, I saw a video that caught my attention. It talked about Agile and the product owner role. Then I decided to apply those practices in my company. I made a presentation to convince my team that we needed a system to handle our backlog.

The implementation was relatively easy since I already applied some things mentioned in the video. So we began working with zero tasks in the backlog, and each month I conducted a "product committee meeting" in which every team member, if they wanted, could present an idea to the committee. Then we voted for the best ideas to execute them.

Before this, every idea went directly to backlog. Now we had a "firewall" that protected the company from these ideas.
Product ownership
2019 — 2021
We had avoided the problem of getting "bad ideas" into the product backlog, but as  time went on we faced another problem. the infinite backlog. Sometimes we did not finish even half of the tasks approved in the last committee. before we started approving more task in the new committee.

I ended up extending the periods between each committee, but only as a temporary solution. The solution came up with another emerging methodology called Shape-Up. This methodology was similar but it had fixed time periods between each "cycle"
Eliminating the backlog
2021 — 2022
In implementing this methodology, we ensured each idea got "shaped" before getting to the backlog. In doing so, we assigned a fixed period for developing this idea. After the shaping, we make our bets, and we decide which ideas we would develop on the next six weeks cycle. Then we started the building phase, while in parallel, we started shaping new ideas, and the process continued. During the two-week betting weeks, developers have a 2-week window to do bug fixing or some independent projects.

We managed to eliminate the backlog, definitely. If one idea was not approved, the owner could present it in the next cycle. Many of those discarded ideas ended up not being necessary at all.

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