Discover more from Alex’s Newsletter
Finding an adequate product management tool
Exploring Jira, Aha!, Productboard, and Prodpad
This year, we break the Jira curse.
You know what I'm talking about. Endless backlogs. Impossible-to-prioritise tasks. 27-clicks to move one card. The Jira Experience™️.
Listen, all things considered, I don't mind Jira that much. It's great for the dev team to work from. It's endlessly powerful. I find it perfect for actionable stuff -- picking up a ticket, working on the ticket, closing the ticket.
For strategic stuff, however, it's just too much.
So, this year, we go one level higher. Here's what I need from my product management tool:
Easy to use. I want to pick it up quickly. Basically, you know Jira? Yeah, the opposite of that.
High-level. I want to use this tool to get a high-level view of what we're supposed to be working on.
Strategic. I want to use this tool to manage the iterations of our software on a quarterly basis, from the strategic front.
Integrates with Jira. I want to send what I have prioritised to my dev team, which works on Jira.
Context. I want the tool to help me contextualise what we need to work on with real customer feedback.
With this in mind, I embarked on the hunt for the right product management tool.
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I considered four product management tools: Jira (yup), Aha, Productboard, and Prodpad.
I had to at least give it a try.
I knew I didn't want it, but staying with them offered some very clear advantages:
We already pay for it.
It's 100% going to integrate _with itself_.
Everyone is already somewhat comfortable using it.
All our tickets are already in there.
Disadvantages are clear, too.
It's not easy to use.
We've tried creating roadmaps before it was a nightmare.
It's very difficult to keep things at a strategic level in Jira, you immediately get into the weeds.
Aha was a true contender. I noticed some really cool advantages with using them.
Their roadmap tool looks really powerful.
They're leaders and oft' mentioned in the product management circles.
They integrate well with anything we could ever need.
The downsides of using Aha are somewhat personal preferences rather than lack of features.
It looks very old. Like an old piece of software.
Though I know I could have just not set up our roadmap this way, it seems to promote a very waterfall-y approach to PM.
Their pricing is really modular and, once I pick everything I need, expensive.
Tangent alert: Aha! is a ridiculous name for a tool. Right? How am I supposed to use it in a sentence without sounding like an idiot. “Let me add this to Aha real quick”. “I’ll check Aha and get back to you”. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue, I’m sorry.
Productboard stood out immediately. During my free trial, I found that:
Their app is really clean and easy to use.
It's cheap(ish) at $60/maker.
It does the three things I want it to do:
Collect feedback from customers & provide context.
Organise and prioritise tickets.
Create flexible roadmaps for various stakeholders.
The one thing ProductBoard are missing is the opportunity to tie features to larger company goals (something aha! allows you to do, in fact).
Unfortunately for the good folks at Prodpad, they came out on par with Productboard. Recency bias and entanglement meant that, as I was looking around Prodpad, I was really just thinking of Productboard.
Their software and capabilities were really equal. Sorry team, I'm sure you do an incredible job.
As you might have guessed, I picked Productboard. It's now been a little over three weeks. While I'm still finding my feet and getting things set up, I'm confident I have made the right choice for where we are at the moment.
I'd love to hear about your experience. Have you tested a few solutions? Which one did you pick and why?