Velocity Credit Union Product Strategy and Feature Brief

The goal of a product strategy and feature brief is to explain a product’s roadmap and the reasoning behind its creation so as to create alignment around the purpose and priority level of specific features. This is the document a product manager uses to convince her team, peers, and bosses that she has made the right decisions about which features should be shipped and when.

Insights and Value Promise

To create a product strategy and feature brief for my Velocity Credit Union (VCU) app, my first step was to elaborate on the reasoning behind my product roadmap. In other words, I did further research to ground the logic behind the order in which I chose to develop the VCU app features. The object of this exercise was not to complete the normal, extremely rigorous ethnographic research I would have preferred to have done to form insights, but rather to find secondary research that could help me form a cogent stance about which features should be prioritized.

What I found in doing secondary research was that credit unions everywhere are struggling to attract younger members. Younger members (people between the ages of 18 and 40) are extremely important to the health of any credit union because they are the ones most likely to be taking out loans to buy houses or cars, and credit unions make the majority of their money from the interest on the loans they give out. Consequently, I focused in on the behavior of millennials and how the VCU app could appeal to their needs. I then wrote then formed the following insights:

Insight #1 - millennials don't like to go to a physical location

Insight #2 millennials don't like keeping track of when things are due

Insight #3 Millennials do not bother to memorize mundane information

Insight #4 Low-income millennials are scared of incurring fees by overdrawing their accountsThose insights led to the Velocity Credit Union value promise: We promise to minimize our clients’ anxiety and frustration surrounding banking so that they are free to pursue their long-term financial goals.

This value promise addresses the expectations, emotions, and aspirations of the VCU members.

Strategic Roadmap

Having laid out that guiding principle, I then proceeded to create a high level strategic roadmap for building out the features of the VCU app.

high level strategic roadmap

The intent and goal of each release are different and driven by the insights listed above.

MVP

For the MVP of our product, the intent is to enable clients to never have to go to a physical VCU location to complete a common transaction, thus supporting their standard banking expectations.

V2

For the v2  features (Automation), the intent is to enable clients to schedule transactions in advance and create repeated transactions. This will allow users to have a “set it and forget it” banking mentality, satisfying their desire to not have to be reminded about repetitive financial chores.

V3

The goal of the v3 (Convenience) release of the VCU app is to support users to minimize the information they need to remember or find in order to complete their banking tasks. The goal of this release corresponds to the third insight listed above: millennials often do not keep track of the contact information of the individuals and businesses with whom they transact, and so often feel frustrated and lost when expected to recall or find details about them.

V4

Finally, the goal of v4 (Safe to Spend) of the VCU app is to support users’ long-term financial health by enabling clients to live free from worry about overdrawing their accounts and build good savings habits. This release is designed specifically to address the concerns raised in the fourth insight listed above: Many low-income millennials fear over-drafting on their accounts to the point of preferring to deal completely in cash.

Feature Breakdown

The final step in creating a product strategy and feature brief is to provide a more detailed explanation of each feature that explains the value it will deliver to customers and how it reflects the value promise for the product as a whole. Here are a few examples:

MVP Release Feature: Mobile Deposit
MVP Release Feature: Mobile Deposit

 

v2 Release Feature: Schedule Recurring Transactions
v2 Release Feature: Schedule Recurring Transactions

 

v3 Release Feature: Person to Person Payments and Requests
v3 Release Feature: Person to Person Payments and Requests
v4 Feature Release: Budget Warning Push Notifications
v4 Feature Release: Smart Budget Warning Push Notifications

These more specific feature breakdowns conclude the product strategy and feature brief. You can view the brief in its entirety here

Conclusion

Having reached the end of the brief, anyone reading it should now know exactly which features the product manager is proposing to build, why those features are critical to the value promise of the product as a whole, and why the features should be built on the schedule that the product manager has proposed. For the VCU app, this means that each feature has been justified and prioritized based on the behavioral insights listed above about the millennial users VCU is trying to attract. With that grounding, I, as product manager, would have a strong set of arguments with which to approach any higher-up to convince them to give funding and time to the features I have identified as being most important.