The 5-bucket model of product management

  • Last Updated : June 12, 2023
  • 4 Min Read
buckets of paint and a person dipping a paint brush into one

Today's product managers play big role in every stage of their product's life cycle, including planning and roadmapping, initial development and iteration, forecasting, pricing, launch, marketing, sales, and feedback implementation. This means they are often at the intersection of the data, people, and processes that come together around a product.

Though each product manager has their own way of managing their products, it's challenging to establish successful processes and coordinate with the many people in their teams. In our previous post, we explained how using the modified Golden Circle Theory can help you build these processes. It will help you get a handle on your purpose and set up realistic timelines and tasks for your team.

In this post, we'll discuss how you can design optimised processes using the 5-bucket model.

The bucket approach is designed to help you manage your product's life cycle. So consider each bucket as a stage in your process.

Bucket 1: All work in your pipeline

Bucket 2: Only the work currently in progress

Bucket 3: All the work you've completed

Bucket 4: Tracks progress of completed tasks

Bucket 5: All goals you've achieved

Bucket 1: The big to-do

Consider this as your product roadmap, which might very well look like a massive to-do list. For example, if you're planning to release a new product version, everything you want to implement goes into this bucket. This could include:

  • A list of features and functionalities you've planned to build

  • New ideas for product appearance and function

  • Feature requests from beta testers, customers, and partners

  • A list of backlogs you need to clear from a previous version

  • Market demand and customer requirement research

It's essential to note these down so you know when exactly to move them to the next stage.

Bucket 2 : The goings-on

This bucket model lets you prioritise. Look through your first bucket and identify tasks that need immediate doing. The exact things you'll add to this bucket depend on your industry and the product you're building. Examples could be:

  • Bug fixes and usability issues

  • Essential features that are under development and testing

  • Frequently requested features currently under design and planning

  • Analysis of use cases and identifying new requirements

At any point, you can have multiple tasks in this bucket. It's best to arrange them based on your team's workload. When you have a list of what everyone's working on, you can immediately gauge which ones are more urgent. For instance, if you realise that your team is overwhelmed by fixing known issues and fine-tuning existing features, you can push new feature requests a little down your priority list.

Bucket 3: What's done and dusted

Celebrate victories, big and small. Add every completed task to this bucket, remembering that this is only a temporary transition stage. Tasks don't end in product management. Instead, use this bucket as a checkbox to track your progress. List accomplishments like:

  • Beta programs you've launched

  • Releasing a version of your product

  • Feature and functionality enhancements

  • Usability and interface upgrades

They might seem small, but that's the purpose of bucket 3. You add items that you're proud of, but also ones you'll want to look back on later and scrutinise.

Bucket 4: The watchlist

This is a sub-section of your bucket 3. Go through all the accomplished tasks you've added to bucket 3 and identify ones that require constant monitoring. Here are some examples:

  • Customer feedback on a new feature you've released

  • Bug reports and suggestions on your beta program

  • Usage statistics and patterns for a new website or feature

  • Reviews and ratings for the latest update you rolled out for your app

  • Scalability stats of the latest feature you launched

  • New use cases that customers have for your latest product

Bucket 5: The hits

This last bucket is a sub-section of bucket 4. Based on the performance of your completed tasks, identify ones that validate what you've done. For example, if you were monitoring the scalability of your newest feature, and you realise that it has supported your customer base without causing too many issues or bugs, then you can add that in this bucket. Some others you can add are:

  • A goal you've completed, whether it's small or big

  • Achieving your ROI on a set of features you'd released

  • Meeting your key performance indicators for the month or quarter

  • Successful analysis of your benchmarks

Most people tend to skip buckets 4 and 5. However, it's important to follow up on tasks you've completed. Only then can you measure the success of your product management efforts.

At Zoho, we use Zoho Desk to manage our bucket system, but you can use whatever system that works for you. If you're still evaluating technology and how it can serve your business, you don't have to wait to implement the bucket system. Even if you only have access to stickies and notes, you can use that in the meantime. Regardless of what tool you use, the 5-bucket model makes it much easier to manage your processes. Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments below!

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