Every SaaS business needs to figure out the answer to the looming question of what features to build and when. Making the right choices enables businesses to reach their customer and revenue goals while differentiating themselves from the competition and ensuring traction in the market.
The tricky part about deciding what SaaS features to build is that you can’t build everything at once unless you have unlimited development resources. You need to take intentional steps, implementing features in a strategic order to help your business be successful.
The challenge is customers will appear to want one, even going as far as committing to using the product if it has a certain feature, yet when the feature is added, they don’t use it.
This creates confusion for businesses who are attempting to please their customers by listening to feedback. Product managers are left to wonder how they can effectively strategize the development of new features for optimal results. Not only is it counterproductive for businesses to implement features that don’t end up converting, it is also a waste of their time, money, and effort.
Apty is a SaaS product built for other SaaS platforms. Our on-screen guidance helps companies onboard users to their enterprise applications like CRMS and ERP and also used user onboarding. Based on our experience as a SaaS product and from working with our SaaS clients, these are the best practices we’ve found for prioritizing SaaS features to ensure a positive reception from your customers and reach your business goals.
Best Practices for Prioritizing Saas Features
Learning how to effectively prioritize SaaS features is essential. With these tips, you can have the confidence that each feature you implement will bring you the results you want.
Tip 1: Stay focused on your vision
When you start out, you have a focus, a vision, a goal. It’s the thing that drives you, the place you’re headed, and everything that you do is in order to get you there.
However, when you’re in the midst of all the things, that vision can get a little hazy. You’ll start to have voices off to the side, calling you in different directions, and you find yourself pretty unsure of which way to turn.
The thing you really need to do is keep your eyes focused in front of you. Don’t let your destination out of your site.
Here’s the tricky thing; don’t say yes to building a feature if it doesn’t fit that vision, and it isn’t part of your plan. It’s going to be very tempting to tell your customers that you’ll build a feature they want, but if that feature takes you on a detour and isn’t a driving force, pulling you along towards your goal, then it’s just not worth it.
For example, customers will often ask for custom native integrations with other platforms they use. Evaluate building integrations carefully to make sure they support your overall vision and roadmap. Integrations can quickly eat up a lot of development time without adding value. Integrations might make sense if most of your customers would use them. Still, if only a small subset asks for an integration, your development time is probably better spent on features your entire user base can utilize.
Tip 2: Ask the right questions
When soliciting feedback, businesses often get stuck on “what.” They seek out what their customers want. The problem with this is that people often want something, but when it comes down to it, they realize that it’s not actually what they need.
If you are building SaaS features based on what your customers are telling you they want, you’ll often find yourself disappointed when they don’t end up using the feature. On the other hand, if you’re beginning with their needs and seeking out feedback based on their pain points, you’ll be better able to understand what you can build for them.
The more you know, the more you understand, the better solutions you will be able to design for your customers. Ask them what their problem is, what they are attempting to do about it currently, and how you can help. When you understand the details of their problem, you’ll be ready to build the solution.
Tip 3: Go for quality, not quantity
New products often make the mistake of building an extensive feature set to compete with more established solutions. Here’s the problem - most users don’t need all those features.
When customers are shopping for a SaaS solution, they’re looking to help solve a problem. When you build quality, easy-to-use features, your software begins to sell itself. New users need to grasp how your software helps them quickly.
At Apty, our product helps onboard new customers and users to the software. Our core solution was built for enterprise customers looking to onboard employees to business applications. The reason businesses need a solution like Apty is their software is so complex and feature-packed that the average user can’t figure out how to use it without on-screen guidance. The takeaway for new SaaS products is you’re better off with an easy-to-use interface than one that’s bloated with features the average user won’t even touch.
Tip 4: Be transparent about your roadmap
While you build new features requested by customers, make sure that you are in communication with them, walking them through the process. To build customer loyalty, your customers need to feel like they’re part of things.
Ensure your team is working diligently to stay on schedule and regularly update your clients when your schedule or roadmap changes. Providing regular updates on your product vision and road reinforces your value proposition to customers and highlights how your solution helps them.
Takeaway: Prioritize feature development for growth
Prioritizing your feature development is a monumental task, but take the time to do it right can set your product up for success. Especially if you follow a product-led growth strategy, you need to solicit user feedback and build features that highlight your product’s value. Stay focused on your vision and create a simple but powerful application that users love.
Editor’s note: the following is a guest post from Nathan Altadonna of Apty.
A former journalist and product manager, Nathan is a proud tech geek who blogs about digital transformation, SaaS user onboarding, and enterprise software, etc. for Apty, a leading Digital Adoption Platform.