Should you use Trello, Jira, Excel, or Feature Upvote?
If your product has an active customer base, you'll get plenty of suggestions from customers. Good product teams listen to customers, so suggestions should significantly impact your product's roadmap for future versions.
A simple way to prioritize improvements for future versions is to keep track of which suggestions get requested the most via voting. The suggestions that get the most votes are assigned a high priority in your product's roadmap.
I'll describe four ways you implement roadmap voting using simple tools that are either free or cheap:
Naturally, we think Feature Upvote is the best of these four options, as it was specifically created to allow roadmap voting by your customers.
Trello is a popular collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. For basic use, it is free for unlimited users. Paid versions cost from $10/user/month.
Trello's voting "power-ups" enables voting on a Trello board. The free version of Trello allows one power-up per board, so you can use this without charge.
Here's how you might use Trello for roadmap voting:
- Create a Trello board to track suggestions for your product's roadmap. If you want the public to be able to vote, make sure it is a public board.
- Create a list on your board called "Suggestions". Each time a user makes a suggestion, add it to this list.
- Enable the "voting" power-up.
Note that each person who wants to vote has to:
- have a Trello account. They're free, so this is not a major barrier. Do note, though, that many users will give up trying to add a suggestion if they don't already have a Trello account.
- learn how voting in Trello works. It is pretty simple but not immediately obvious. With our short attention spans on the Internet only the truly motivated will bother. That might suit you, as this barrier will filter out certain people.
Depending on your industry, many of your customers might already be familiar with Trello and have an account.
Trello is a general-purpose tool. Although you can implement roadmap voting with Trello, it lacks that "designed for purpose" nature.
Jira is the most popular issue tracking software on the market. Many product development teams are already using it. If you are not already using Jira as an issue tracker, it is cheap and easy to get started.
Jira allows voting on issues. You can create a "project" in Jira to specifically track your roadmap, or you can use your current Jira project. Only people with an account on your Jira installation can vote, and you do need to pay per user for Jira. For this reason, Jira works best as a way for internal users to vote on a roadmap.
Each Jira issue has a "Votes" section. With a single click anyone viewing an issue can register a vote.
If you have a product with an external customer base, using Jira to track voting can be frustrating. That's because your customers can't vote directly. Instead your support teams vote on behalf of your customers. Jira only allows one vote per Jira user, so you won't be able to track each customer vote.
For one of our products, we tried using Jira ourselves for tracking roadmap voting. As customers requested improvements, we'd add them to our Jira project. But because each internal user could only vote once, we couldn't properly track outside demand. If we had 10 customers ask for the same feature, we couldn't easily capture that info in Jira. This was part of our motivation for creating Feature Upvote.
Voting in Jira could work well for an internal team. However the voting is not an immediately obvious feature in Jira. You'd need to explain to each team member
- that Jira has voting
- that you want them to vote
- make clear which issues are for voting on
Jira is a magnificent tool, but it is best used for tracking generic issues. It is not ideal for allowing users or stakeholders to vote on your roadmap.
Excel or Google Sheets
You can use a shared Excel document or Google Sheets document to record each suggestion your customers make. Use one column to record number of votes. Here's a sample structure.
This is okay for a diligent team. You probably already have Excel or Google Sheets. Most of your team are probably already proficient in either Excel or Google Sheets. But as a voting solution it is cumbersome, it requires a manual process, and lacks public visibility. It won't record who voted and when. It is hard to clarify suggestions, to comment on them, and to know if the votes were recent or from long ago. Users can't tell if they've already voted for a particular improvement.
A spreadsheet has the advantage that you can set it up immediately without any new accounts or products.
We tried using a spreadsheet. We tried using Jira. We tried using Trello. We weren't happy with any of these. They all gave us pain. They didn't give our customers a public view into our roadmap, and they didn't make roadmap voting easy. So we created Feature Upvote.
These were the features we wish we had in Jira, Trello, or a spreadsheet, and that we built into Feature Upvote:
- customers can view and add suggestions without having to go through our support team
- customers can vote on existing suggestions
- customers can comment on existing suggestions
- suggestions automatically sort to show the most popular items
- customers can see which suggestions we are planning to do
We wanted to make sure each suggestion, comment, and vote was tracked by user and date.
Feature Upvote offers your customers a way to submit suggestions directly, using a self-help model. They can use Feature Upvote from their mobile device, their tablet, or their traditional computer. With our voting system, your customers can build your roadmap.
Try our interactive
Feature Upvote demo!
to experience first-hand how it works.