The Feature Canvas – One Page for Getting Your Feature S**t Together

Rob created the Feature Canvas to help manage the development of major new features. We think other product managers would find it valuable. He presented about it at Product School recently, and offered to share it on the podcast. Some of you already have a picture in your head what that might look like, simply based on the name.

In the podcast Rob shares the story on how he came to create the Feature Canvas. And he discusses how it’s worked for him – both as a tool for communicating with developers, but also for working with other stakeholders.

The Feature Canvas is focused on major features. It ties together all the needs of various departments and stakeholders into a single one-page document.

You can find a public version of the Feature Canvas template at http://www.bit.ly/featurecanvas. Feel free to make a copy and try it out. We’d love to hear your feedback!

Episode highlights

[1:50 & 6:05] We discuss what a Major Feature is, and why it requires so much more preparation than a smaller feature, iteration, or fix. Hint: when you think about any feature in a series of phases that all need to be delivered to achieve the final goal, you’ve probably got a Major Feature on your hands.

[4:04 & 7:15] We talk about the genesis of the Feature Canvas, other tools (such as the VALUABLE framework by Nils) or practices that lead to it’s creation, and how it’s used.

[9:05] Open up www.bit.ly/featurecanvas and follow along because we walk through each section of the document and how to approach filling it out!

[12:00] The New Visibility box explained in detail

[15:20] The Limitations, Competitors, and Burdens box explained in detail

[17:35] We touch on why the boxes are so dang small!?! Hint: Rob has cheated and expanded the capacity a bit, but there’s a reason it’s not a huge doc

[19:14] How the canvas fits in with the other documents and tools used by PMs, and how to fill the thing out.

[25:35] Here we get real about how well or not well received this document has been for Rob. Some thoughts on who benefits the most.

[27:30] Nils points out the obvious that Rob completely ignored.

[29:03] The all-important 3 simple take-aways!

Acknowledgements

We’d like to thank our new producer Laura Wittig, who just started working with us and has already transformed the look of the site, among other things. You’ll be hearing from her in future episodes, sharing her experiences in starting a new product management position – more on that later!

And thanks as well to our new sponsor, Product School! This podcast is brought to you by Product School, where you can learn the skills to help you land a job in product management or improve your performance in a related role, all through flexible night and weekend courses taught by experienced and knowledgeable product managers. Recent graduates have gone on to great product management jobs at Sephora, MyFitnessPal, and many other exciting companies of all sizes. Check them out at productschool.com.

  • Adam F says:

    Do you have a link or example of the canvas?

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