Running Effective Advisory Boards

One technique for validating your strategy and roadmap is a customer advisory board—a small group of customers who discuss how their challenges align with your plans.

Bring a small group of representative customers together and share a set of problems or initiatives you're considering for your roadmap. Your goal is not quantitative—it's not about numbers; your goal is qualitative—it's about insight. Get customers to tell stories about the problems you're looking to solve.

Members in a customer advisory board should be chosen carefully, based on the persona and segment that you're trying to understand. The CAB is not for loud customers or prospects or anyone appointed by sales ("If you buy today, I'll get you onto the customer advisory board!" NO!).

Customer advisory members are curated based on their ability to provide insight on what you're trying to learn.

The advisory board helps you prioritize

There are always more ideas than resources. Always more to do than can be done. That’s why product managers are always focused on prioritization. Given your limited resources, which of the many ideas are the few to pursue?

Share your ideas with the advisory board and get their recommendations on which would most benefit their implementations.

The method I use is to have the customer advisory rate using the IDEA/E method:

  • I for Impact. What is the impact of this problem or pain to their (that is, the customer's) businesses?

  • D for Dissatisfaction. How dissatisfied are they with the current scenario or workaround?