Hot Takes

Reinventing Your Product Roadmap With Data with Ryan Donovan


Do you want to sleep well at night knowing your product roadmap is focused on the right things?

This Hot Take will show you how to leverage two proven methodologies (Jobs to be Done plus Reforge Adoption Funnel/Framework) to qualitatively and quantitatively assess product market fit.

In this session with Ryan Donovan, CPTO at Grin, you will learn:

  • What is the Jobs to be Done Methodology
  • What is the Reforge Adoption Funnel/Framework
  • How can you use the two together to have the most customer-focused roadmap possible

[Transcript] Reinventing Your Product Roadmap With Data

Although transcriptions are generally very accurate, just a friendly reminder that they could sometimes be incomplete or contain errors due to unclear audio or transcription inaccuracies.

Massimo Chieruzzi

Welcome back to the product track, the fifth session of the day. Very happy to introduce Ryan Donovan; actually, back in my time at Hootsuite, I was working for Ryan, so really happy with having him here.

Right now, he’s the Product and Technology Officer at Grin, and he’s going to talk about reinventing your product roadmap with data, which is a topic I really like, so let’s hear from Ryan. 

Ryan Donovan

Thanks, Max. It’s so good to be here with you today, and it’s great to see you again; it’s been too long. So just a little bit about me, I’ve been working in product engineering leadership roles for well over 20 years. I’ve been kind of in a very close circle, working on e-commerce, marketing tech, and social tech, and been in social technology for the last five years, which kind of makes me, I think, a unique veteran within it.

What I wanted to talk to you about today is really using data to reinvent your product roadmap. Every product team I’ve joined in the last 20 years had one really common element; they weren’t really focused as deeply on the customer as they should be. 

Reinventing Your Product Roadmap With Data With Ryan Donovan

They’re focusing on easy asks coming from sales and customer success versus the core customer problems, which are much harder, and then one of the challenges I’ve also seen is that you can’t actually quantify if you delivering value to customers. So today, I want to talk to you about a way to do it.

To make sure your roadmap is the most customer-centric possible, there’s the best practice that I’ve seen now, having done this for a while, is that you really want to have both a qualitative and a quantitative methodology to measure your product-market fit and customer adoption.

The two frameworks I’m going to be talking to you about today show you how to do just that. 

Reinventing Your Product Roadmap With Data With Ryan Donovan

The first framework I’m talking about is what’s known as Jobs to Be Done, which will give your product team a qualitative methodology to assess a product-market fit, and then I’ll talk about using the Reforge adoption funnel which will give you a quantitative methodology to measure how successful your customers have been. And there’s also a very strong correlation between Reforge moments and retention, which I’ll talk about when we get into it. 

So what a Job to Be Done is, is this is a core customer use case or scenario that your users are going to have to go through when they try to actually achieve the value that you want them to achieve using the product. 

Reinventing Your Product Roadmap With Data With Ryan Donovan

To give you an example for Grin, we’re a creator management platform; we’ve got about 33 core jobs that go across our customers. If you’ve got a multi-product portfolio, you probably are going to have a hundred core jobs or more, and the way you do this is you define each of your scenarios, and then you work with your customer-facing teams and your customers themselves to really rate what on a scale of one to five, with one being the worst five being the best, how well your product is actually fulfilling this value.

It’s really important when you do this that you actually really talk with your customers to understand kind of what I’ll call the fringe use cases that are around the edges of your product because that’s oftentimes where you’ll find a lot of opportunity as well as unmet needs.

Once you’ve actually scored these, you know exactly where you need to focus, where your product is broken because oftentimes, when I’ve joined product teams, you’ll see scores in the low twos, which means there’s a significant improvement in a product that’s working at delivering what I’ll call iPhone to smartphone level of functionality is probably going to be in the mid floors.

So this gives you a nice framework to measure it. I think the best practice would be to refresh this at least once a year and then make sure that as you deliver features, you go back and validate with your customers that you’re actually improving the Jobs to Be Done. 

That’s the qualitative methodology; now, let’s talk about the quantitative methodology. 

Reforge is an established product adoption framework that is part of the broader Reforge education programs that are out there, and if you are a product leader and haven’t heard of Reforge but are interested in product-led growth, I highly recommend you go check that out, it’s worth the couple of thousand dollars.

So in the Reforge methodology, they define four key moments. The first moment is the Signup moment, which is when a user has actually joined the product. The Setup moment comes post sign up which is what you need to do to actually be able to derive value from the product. The Aha moment is when the user experiences that core value proposition for the first time, and then the Habit moment is when they’re receiving sustained value on an ongoing basis around your product.

Reinventing Your Product Roadmap With Data With Ryan Donovan

And you can do this by measuring these moments using your analytics tool of choice; it could be something like Pendo or Google Analytics, next thereof. But it’s really important to really understand how you’re using the product and where they’re finding these moments of friction because what you’ll find at the end of the day is that there’s a very strong correlation between habit and gross and net retention. 

Habit customers are going to churn the least, and they’re going to be the most likely to upsell, be upsold, and oftentimes when you first establish this methodology, you’ll find that these numbers are a lot lower than what you think they’re going to be, which gives you significant improvement to improve both growths and that retention.

The other thing to think about when you’re using this process is that if you’ve got multiple use cases for your product, you probably have a Reforge funnel that would apply to each use case, or if you also have dramatically different customer segments, they may have their own funnels as well, and as you go to expand upon this, you can start to think about cohorts of maturity.

For example, when I was at Hootsuite, we had the notion of dormant core and power users or casual, it was casual core and power users.

Each one of them had a different kind of Reforge funnel because the power users’ behavior in the product is not going to look like what a very casual user is going to do.

So anyways, that’s the Reforge methodology. If you blend the two together, Jobs to Be Done is going to give you the qualitative view, Reforge is going to give you the quantitative view, and using these two, you’ll be well-armed and instantly know if your product roadmap is actually focused on the right things.

And with that, I’ll pause for questions.

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Hot Takes Live


Catch the replay of Hot Takes Live, where 30 of the top SaaS leaders across Marketing, Sales, and RevOps revealed some of their most unpopular opinions about their niche.

These leaders shared what lessons they learned and how they disrupted their industry by going against the grain (and achieved better results in the process).

Massimo Chieruzzi

Awesome, thank you. I think the first question is, I’m curious, did it ever happen that the two methodologies give a contrasting signal, so the Jobs to Be Done and what’s coming from the Reforge framework send you in a very different direction?

Ryan Donovan

In general, I’ve seen not very much, but where you will see the convergence is are the fringe use cases around Jobs to Be Done that around the edges of your product because that’s not part of your core user journey today but could represent areas of customer pain that you should think about solving.

So it’s going to be those fringe areas where you’ll see the divergence, but for your core adoption use cases, you’ll see a very strong correlation if you’ve got a gap and a Job to Be Done that’s part of your core workflow, that’s probably where you’re going to see customers struggling to get to those moments.

Massimo Chieruzzi

Gotcha, and how often should you refresh this assessment? How often should you give a score to the Jobs to Be Done etc?

Ryan Donovan

At least once a year, but if you could, you might want to consider–if you’re in a very dynamic space–looking at it either half-year or quarterly. With Reforge, it’s always up to date using your analytics tool so that you can take a look at that data as frequently as a weekly basis.

I’ve not seen it looked at much below weekly making sense, but definitely, on a monthly plus, you can definitely look at that. 

Massimo Chieruzzi

Gotcha. Yes, I think in the early stages, things change very quickly. Sometimes even the Jobs to Be Done change very quickly and very easily.

And when you have a small team, and you might have different use cases with different jJobs to Be Done, how do you prioritize given that you likely don’t have the resources to move up the score in all the jobs to be done? 

How would you prioritize which one should be the most important?

Ryan Donovan

That’s where I’d say the art of product management comes into play. You’re going to have to sit there, understand your business, understand your customers, and make a judgment call. 

So, for example, I always look at kind of core use cases that are part of your core adoption funnel that should probably take precedence over some of those edge cases, but the edge cases are where you could potentially have new capabilities that could represent new UPS that you want to make and make a judgment call, but you certainly don’t have the data to understand where the gaps are so you can then pick and prioritize a lot more intelligently.

The whole point of these is to really empower product leaders to have the data they need to make the right decisions.

Massimo Chieruzzi

Awesome, we don’t have any other questions, so Ryan, thank you so much for joining us today. It was a pleasure seeing you again. It was a really great session.

Ryan Donovan

Likewise, thank you, Max, for having me, and it’s great to see you as well.