Release Notes (June 23, 2020)
LightCat has taken a whole new avatar with this release. Here's the research we did that led to this release.
Customer Interviews: : spoke with 12 Product Heads and 18 Product Managers over the preceding few weeks.
Market Research: : we went in detail studying Aha.io, ProductBoard, AirFocus and whether they fit into the behaviour that out customer interviews indicated.
Prior Knowledge: : Our own prior knowledge and experience in building products.
These were the learnings from the research:
Small to mid stage startups have product teams and managers that cover a lot more ground (UX, UX Testing, Bug Testing, Launch Plan, Release Notes etc) than PMs at large companies.
The smaller teams outnumber larger companies about 20 to 1, likely more.
All product management solutions in the market are built for large teams. The prices are usually very high, the products are very complex and configurable, and yet they cover only 10% (usually just roadmapping) of what the early stage teams do .
The smaller teams are underserved.
The Problems Faced by Indies and Small Teams
They have less resources, limited time, tons of ideas, and no Product Management tools are built for them. For Example, it is becoming increasingly clear to Developer community that JIRA was never meant for them unless they worked in a very large Engineering organisation (1, References)
They use the SDK (Spreadsheet, Docs, Kanban) Stack frequently. These tools don't talk to each other so they spend 40-70 minutes per week syncing them up.
They need to build and ship fast. There is little time to have elaborate, dedicated team alignment meetings. Therefore, everyone being on the same page need to be a PART of the process, instead of requiring additional effort.
Most of the time, they have too many ideas coming from research, customers, collaborators. It becomes super critical to decide what to build and what not to. Wrong decisions may prove fatal for the product.
We refactored most of LightCat from June 5 to June 22 and came out with 3 core features:
Scribbles : - Executable Notes for Product Teams
Features : - Feature Management System
Roadmap : - Release Planning System
1. Scribbles - Executable Notes for Product Teams
This is a Wysiwyg Markdown Editor, exactly along the lines of Notion, and Confluence. Scribble your ideas now. Organise them later.
As an example, this entire Release Note has first been written in Scribbles
What can you do with Scribbles:
Write in Markdown: and in the edit view itself, see the formatting come alive.
Add to Stories : Attached to user stories, without pasting links
Forward Slash Menu : to do basic stuff like format text, embed a Figma board etc.
... And many more
2. Features - Feature Management for Product Teams
This is the Home of the Product Features.
Everything you need to plan a feature release, is present in, or connected to LightCat Features.
Here is what you can do with Features:
Align with objectives : Score each Story on its impact on business objectives
Add Effort Estimates : Get Engineering to add effort estimates.
Prioritise : Use the above to prioritise stories ruthlessly
3. Roadmap - Release Planning for Product Teams
Roadmap allows you to create release plans by cherry picking stories and placing them in a particular release.
Here is what you can do with Roadmap:
Gut Override: Even though you added scores, you can easily override them and add whatever you want to any release by dragging and dropping.
Kanban View: View multiple release plans in a single view, and move stories from one to other. Looks like Story X is not suitable for next week's release, drag and drop it to "Unplanned"
Free Structure: You are not bound to create weekly, fortnightly or monthly plans. Do it the way you like. You may keep one weekly plan and other monthly plans. Do whatever works for you.