Fibery vs. Productboard. The hard choice.

January 29, 202114 min read

Usually posts X vs. Y are shallow. This post is not. As the Fibery CEO, I have to switch off the bias. Take this post with a grain of salt.

The major goal is to explain how Fibery is different and what strengths and weaknesses it has to support your product development processes. Productboard is one of the best tools for product managers. However, it’s not perfect. Let’s find out why.

TL;DR

🍋 Productboard is great product management software. It works well for customer feedback handling, backlog management and prioritization, product roadmapping. It lacks ideation, so you’ll have to use external tools to create features specification (Google Docs, Miro, etc). It doesn’t support Software Development process, so you will have to use Jira and integrate with it. Its customizability is not great, Productboard is quite opinionated.

Read How Fibery uses Fibery for product development. It's a good example for a team of 20 people that work on a single product and use Fibery for everything.

🫒 Fibery is much more flexible and covers all product development areas. It lacks some depth in customer feedback handling (no Feedback Portal), roadmapping is slightly weaker in Fibery, and hierarchical backlog management is not there. However, you can create beautiful feature specs in Fibery, run software development process, and plan user research studies.

If you want to focus on backlogs and product roadmaps — Productboard will be a better choice. If you want to cover more product development processes — Fibery will work better.

Philosophy

Productboard is tailored, but strict

Productboard is a specialized tool for product management. It covers quite many important product development processes, but not all. Specialization has some benefits and some problems. In general, you can focus on very specific cases and do them right. On the other side, specialization usually creates narrow tools, it’s much harder to customize them and use them for other, not designed cases.

It means you have to follow the tool ideology and match it with your internal processes. If the match is 90%, then all is good and you will enjoy the tool. If the match is 70%, then you will suffer in some cases. If the match is below 50%, you will suffer all the time.

Fibery is generic but very flexible

Fibery is a no-code tool at its core. It means in theory you can construct a solution for many processes. For example, this is a solution for product management processes.

The benefit of this approach is that nothing is final. You can change the tool as you wish: add processes, remove processes, connect processes, customize processes and create a solution that fits your company.

The downside is that some specific cases might be not great and less usable than specialized tools. However, in practice, you encounter this problem not so often if you get the generic building blocks right. We believe that we do, but it is up to you to decide. Read on.

Now we’ll focus on specific product development processes and compare Productboard and Fibery for every process.

Customer Feedback handling

Customer needs drive product development and help build great products. You should listen, aggregate feedback from all possible sources into a single place, and use the feedback for decision-making about the product’s future.

💪 This area shines in Product Board. You can integrate Productboard with many tools that capture customer feedback and link feedback to features. There are connectors to Email, Intercom, Zendesk, and Slack. Here is how you can link text with a feedback to a feature:

Capture feedback from Intercom and create Insights

Capture feedback from Intercom and create Insights

You can create manual Notes as well.

One problem is that you can link feedback only to Features and this is not very flexible. What if you want to link feedback to Ideas or Insights first? Maybe this thing will never become a Feature. Unfortunately, you have to emulate this by creating Features in Productboard.

Another cool thing is a Portal where you can show some features and ask for customers’ feedback.

Features portal in Productboard
Features portal in Productboard

This works as one more channel to collect feedback.

Overall, this area is very well developed in Productboard, the only missing thing is user research and conversations with customers, still, you can use manual Notes as a workaround and link them to Features.

In Fibery feedback linking is more flexible, since you can link feedback to Insights, Ideas, Features, Tasks, Bugs and whatever you want:

Capture feedback from Intercom and create Insights

Capture feedback from conversations or Intercom and create Insights

You can also track Insights independently, collect more feedback, think and only then decide whether it worth to be implemented.

Insights table in Fibery
Insights table in Fibery

🦐 Fibery has no Portal to collect feedback, so Productboard is stronger here.

Ideation: Features specification

Ideation is very important for product development. Usually, it’s handled via Documents and Whiteboards. For example, you use Google Docs and Miro. In the ideal world, you store ideas, brainstorming sessions, and feature specs in a single place. It’s great to have the whole product vision connected to plans and features.

🦐 Unfortunately in Productboard this area is very limited. You even can’t insert images into feature description!

Feature in Productboard
Feature in Productboard

💪 Fibery focuses on ideation deeply. You can create collaborative feature specifications and collaborative Whiteboards. Editing capabilities are quite powerful, you can comment inline, insert whiteboards, and links to other entities into specifications.

Feature in Fibery
Feature in Fibery

Fibery has powerful collaborative Whiteboards as well. You can create Whiteboards inside Features or Ideas to brainstorm things and make everything more visual. Usually, you use a separate tool for that, but having everything in a single place is just so much more enjoyable!

Whiteboard in Fibery to create diagrams, mindmaps and other visual things
Whiteboard in Fibery to create diagrams, mindmaps and other visual things

Product Strategy

Product strategy defines what we implement in a product. It’s always a good idea to link product strategy to execution and see what features we implement to meet objectives and goals.

🦐 It’s possible to define Objectives in Productboard and link Features to Objectives, but everything feels just weird. There is no way to see Objectives in a separate View, on a Timeline, or hierarchically with all Features. There is no way to set Key Results and track Objective execution.

Create Objectives and link Features to Objectives

Create Objectives and link Features to Objectives

There is one interesting view where you can prioritize Features for Objectives on a 2D chart, but still, Objectives management is quite poor.

💪 In Fibery Strategic planning is much more flexible. You can create Objectives for any Product, create Key Results, link Features/Initiative/Marketing Campaigns to Objectives, and track Objectives’ progress as well.

Set Objectives for Products, see them on a Kanban board, track Objectives progress.

Set Objectives for Products, see them on a Kanban board, track Objectives progress.

Product Roadmapping and Planning

Features prioritization is one of the hardest problems in product management. Usually, some formal model works better than manual prioritization. You also should quantify customers’ feedback and include it in the model.

💪 I think this is the most powerful area in Productboard. You can create hierarchical backlogs very easily and set custom scoring themes. UI is fantastic here and very pleasant to use. Almost everything can be updated inline.

Hierarchical backlog in Productboard
Hierarchical backlog in Productboard

Prioritiations score is super customizable. You can create your own drivers, set weights and use various prioritization techniques (like feedback-driven or score-driving). Prioritization Matrix is a nice view where you can easily change various parameters, like effort and value, in a visual way:

Set priorities in a visual way using prioritization matrix

Set priorities in a visual way using prioritization matrix.

Product roadmaps in Productboard is good. You can add Features, group them by Products, drag them around, set milestones. One problem is information density, Features are quite large and if there are dozens of them, the Roadmap becomes too large to scan easily.

Roadmap in Productboard
Roadmap in Productboard

🦐 In Fibery backlog management is less advanced. First, there is no way to see the full product hierarchy yet. You have to live with a flat list of Features.

Backlog in Fibery
Backlog in Fibery

Prioritization is very powerful in Fibery as well. In Productboard you have to use several existing approaches, but in Fibery you have no limits and can create custom scoring formulas. For example, RICE formula looks like this in Fibery:

((Reach * Confidence.Value) * Impact.Value) / Effort

Product roadmaps are almost identical to what you have in Productboard. You can’t add milestones though, but you can more easily zoom-in/zoom-out to have a comfortable timeline scale and see not only Features but anything you like: Objectives, User Stories, Initiatives, etc.

Roadmap in Fibery
Roadmap in Fibery

Software Development

🦐 In Productboard you can’t track software development, but have to use some external tool, like Jira and Trello:

Integrate Productboard with some task tracking software to link product management and software development
Integrate Productboard with some task tracking software to link product management and software development

The problem here is silos. Silos are bad for cross functional teams. Suddenly developers have a hard time seeing real Features or Objectives or even see real customers’ feedback related to these Features. It is hard to split features into User Stories and keep product management and software development in sync. In general, this is a deep philosophical problem: specialized tools reinforce silos inside a company where information flows are impeded by artificial obstacles and this can lead to poor decisions. Integration solves this problem partially, but this is just a workaround to alleviate some pain.

💪 In Fibery you can do both. You can connect Jira or Trello, but the best way is to track software development right in Fibery. It’s more powerful than Trello and in most cases good enough to replace Jira.

Fibery supports Scrum and Kanban processes, so you can define Sprints, split Features to User Stories, estimate them and execute Sprints. You can also define your own agile process.

Sprint planning board in Fibery
Sprint planning board in Fibery

The great thing is that Bugs and User Stories are connected to Features, so you can easily trace execution level as a product manager, or check actual Feature details and feedback as a developer.

Navigation between Stories, Features and Ideas in Fibery

Navigation between Stories, Features and Ideas in Fibery.

You can also set up GitLab or GitHub integration and link Stories/Bugs/Tasks to Merge Requests.

GitLab integration in Fibery
GitLab integration in Fibery

User Research

When you want to learn something about your potential customers, you have to be proactive and do user research: define user persona, plan studies, run interviews, document results, and capture highlights. This is one more way to have useful feedback and build something viable.

🦐 User Research is almost absent in Productboard. All you can do is capture calls/meetings feedback into Notes and connect text to Features. But it is very unstructured and hard to manage since Notes just don’t have all the required fields.

💪 In Fibery there is a separate App to plan, execute and analyze User Research studies.

Organize user research studies, capture meeting notes and insights, link them to features and ideas

Organize user research studies, capture meeting notes and insights, link them to features and ideas.

Connectivity

Information connectivity defines information quality in some way and allows people to explore information much more easily. Imagine what happens when everything is disconnected, like there are no links between feedback and features, between objectives and work, between insights and ideas. Suddenly you have a hard time understanding why some particular feature is on top of the backlog, or why we implement these 5 tasks.

In Productboard connectivity is quite good. You can link feedback to features, create deep product hierarchies, link objectives to features. There are problems with links to software development and interlinking features though.

💪 In Fibery connectivity is the core. You can flexibly set relations between all entities and thus form a complete product knowledge graph in a tool:

Everything is connected in Fibery
Everything is connected in Fibery

Customizability

Companies are different and every company has a unique set of product management processes. It’s hard to create a tool that fits many companies in fact. There are two polar ways to attack the problem:

  1. Create a specialized tool and add some customization options
  2. Create a generic tool and add some specialized features

Productboard follows the first option. It has some customizability built-in, but not so much in fact. You can turn on and off some modules, like Portal or Feedback management. You can customize states for Features and prioritization scoring system. And that is basically it. There is no way to add new entities, like User Stories or Bugs. There is no way to reflect company structure like Department → Teams. There is no way to add Key Results to Objectives.

💪 Fibery follows the second option. It’s a LEGO, so you can create your own Apps and fine-tune them to your needs. You can add custom Types (Epics, Sprints, Departments, Teams, etc). You can connect them as you wish. You can add or remove fields to any Type. You can create custom Views to visualize information as a Board, Table, Timeline, Calendar, or Report. You can create product marketing app, team retrospective app, CRM app, project management app, etc.

Extensive customizability comes with a cost — Fibery is not so easy to grasp. When everything is hardcoded you have to learn the structure once and get used to it. When everything is flexible you can change the structure and the learning process never stops.

However, in the long run, this pays off. Every company is not set in stone. Companies grow, processes change. Fibery can accommodate the changes and change itself, Productboard will have a hard time keeping up.

API & Integrations

🦐 Productboard API is very limited, all you can do is post feedback into Productboard. It’s strange since the product is 7 years old…

Productboard has more integrations and they are pretty useful.

💪 Fibery has a weird, but powerful API. You can create databases and build your own schema using API, and definitely, you can do pretty advanced queries and create entities. Webhooks are there as well.

Fibery has fewer integrations, but they are pretty useful too.

Summary

Let’s compare strengths 💪 and weaknesses 🦐 in Fibery and Productboard.

Fibery
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💪 Feedback linking to Features, Ideas, Bugs, and anything you want
🦐 No Customers Portal
💪 Ideation: collaborative docs and whiteboards to create specs
💪 Flexible strategy planning via OKR or any custom process
🦐 Poor backlog management, since there are hierarchical backlog
💪 Software development process support (Scrum, Kanban, your own)
💪 Charts are really powerful
💪 Custom product metrics
💪 User Research process is there
💪 Extensive connectivity between all processes
💪 Extensive customizability, since Fibery is a no-code tool in its core
💪 Weird, but powerful API
🦐 Not so many integrations

Productboard
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💪 Feedback collection from Intercom, Zendesk, Slack, and manual Notes
💪 Feedback linking to Features
💪 Customers Portal
🦐 Ideation: Features specification, docs, and whiteboards
🦐 Strategy planning is weird and limited
💪 Product Roadmapping and Planning is awesome
💪 Custom prioritization schemes
🦐 No Software development process
🦐 No User Research process
🦐 API is not there
🦐 Poor customizability
💪 Integrations are quite good 

Fibery and Productboard areas of applicability.
Fibery and Productboard areas of applicability.