Should you use Trello, Jira, Excel, or Feature Upvote?
Letting your users vote on improvements is a simple way to build a product roadmap. The feature requests that get the most votes are assigned a high priority in your product's roadmap.
I'll describe four ways you can 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 we created it specifically to allow roadmap voting by your customers or users.
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 can 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 to add the "Vote" button.
- Users can now vote by viewing a card and clicking on the "Vote" button on the right-hand side under "Actions".
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 work wells when all your users are part of your organisation. The voting is not an immediately obvious feature in Jira, so you would need to explain to each team member:
- that Jira has voting
- that you want them to vote
- 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 purchasing new products or creating new accounts.
We tried using a spreadsheet. We tried using Jira. We tried using Trello. In each case, we were unhappy with the experience. 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.
Ready to give Feature Upvote a try?
Getting started with Feature Upvote is painless; in just two minutes you'll have roadmap voting enabled for your product.
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