May 3, 2023
What is a Concept Review? A Tool for Making Product Decisions
As a product team, you're always trying to find ways to not just make better decisions, but to make faster decisions too. A helpful tool that product teams can draw on is a concept review. In this article, we'll define what a concept review is, discuss how to go about conducting one, and explore how it can help you make better product decisions when prioritizing potential solutions. We'll also provide an example of a concept review in action, so you can see for yourself how you might use it in your own use-case.
What is a concept review?
A concept review is a structured process for evaluating and prioritizing different concepts – in other words, product ideas. The goal is simply to figure out which concepts are most promising and which ones should be discarded. This process is typically done as a team, with each member offering their insights and opinions.
The concept review can be a useful step in the product discovery process because it helps teams get a more concrete idea of what a potential solution might look like, ensuring more accurate prioritization and ultimately a smarter use of their time and effort. Having just a vague idea of the potential effort needed to deliver a solution often leads to poor scoping and ends with teams prioritizing features that they would never have prioritized, had they known the real effort required to pull them off. A concept review is a simple way to make more confident decisions and prevent you from investing time and money into concepts that ultimately fail to deliver value to your users.
How to conduct a concept review
There are several methods for conducting a concept review, but two of the most popular are ranking as a team and using the Delphi method. We’ve made a breakdown of these two approaches below.
Ranking as a team: This method involves gathering the product team together and presenting each concept. Each team member is then asked to rank each idea on a scale of 1-10 based on its potential impact, feasibility, and alignment with business goals. Once everyone has completed their rankings, the scores are tallied, and the concepts with the highest scores are prioritized for further development.
Using the Delphi method: The Delphi method involves gathering feedback from experts in a particular field. In the context of a concept review, this could involve bringing together a group of users or subject matter experts to evaluate the product ideas for you. The Delphi method is particularly useful when the product team lacks expertise in a particular area (e.g. when working in a very niche industry), as it can provide valuable insights from those with more experience. The main downside of the Delphi method is that it requires more time and effort as teams rarely have the experts on hand.
Whichever method you choose, it's essential to have a clear evaluation framework in place. This should include criteria for assessing the potential impact, feasibility, and ultimate alignment with your desired outcomes. There is no one way to conduct a concept review, so feel free to adapt it to your way of working.
How does a concept review help you make better product decisions?
By evaluating product ideas in a structured and collaborative way, a concept review can help you make better product decisions. Here are 3 ways in which concept reviews can help you:
Realistic scoping: One of the benefits of ranking concepts is that it forces you to think more about the details of the ultimate solution you will develop. This prevents teams from under- or over-estimating the effort required for a given solution.
Direct comparison: Concepts are more fleshed out than just a simple solution. This means that you can make better direct comparisons between different ideas.
Quick validation: Having the concept fleshed out also gives you a starting point for validating your prototypes and ideas with real customers.
Concept review example
Let's say you're a product manager at a SaaS company, and you're looking to improve your in-app onboarding experience. You gather your team for a concept review, and together you brainstorm several different concepts, including:
A guided tour of the product features
A series of tutorial videos
A chatbot that provides personalized assistance
A comprehensive FAQ section
The first thing you need to do is clearly define each concept. A detailed description is a must. Adding a list of ranked user stories and a rough prototype is even better.
Take the guided product tour as an example. The user stories could look something like this:
💡 Pro tip: Use NEXT AI to quickly generate user stories for inspiration.
Once the concepts are defined, you can use the ranking as a team method, with each team member ranking each concept on a scale of 1-10. Use whichever framework you like to use. A good option is to rank on Desirability, Feasibility, Viability as key factors.
Once you’ve tallied the scores, you can prioritize your solutions accordingly. Just be aware! Solving the right opportunity and having the right customer insights to make decisions confidently are still crucial for good prioritization.
A concept review is a valuable tool for product teams looking to make more informed product decisions. By evaluating product ideas in a structured and collaborative way, you can quickly identify the most promising concepts and avoid wasting time and resources on ideas that are unlikely to succeed.
Whether you choose to conduct a concept review using the ranking as a team or the Delphi method, make sure to consider the wider context of your product discovery efforts. Concept reviews can be helpful for evaluating ideas for your product, but they should not be used in isolation.