An essential part of product management is understanding which features provide the most value to your users and deliver them at the right time. This can be a daunting task, especially when there are limited resources and an ever-growing backlog.
So how do you tackle this issue?
The answer is simple: prioritization. However, prioritization itself isn’t really that straightforward. There are so many things you need to take into account; what features demand your undivided attention now and which ones have to be delayed or even canceled altogether?
Fortunately, this article will help you understand product management prioritization better and make better, calculated decisions in the process.
Let’s jump into it.
Okay, so first things first, let’s talk about project management. Fundamentally, it’s the process of planning, developing, and launching products. Product managers are responsible for ensuring that a product meets the needs of customers and achieves the company's desired results. This involves business justification, marketing, research, design, and everything in between, it incorporates pretty much all the stages of a product’s lifecycle.
The Product Management process includes four key activities:
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
Prioritization is important because it helps you focus on the things that matter most, it ensures that resources are used efficiently, and allows you to meet deadlines.
There are many factors to consider when prioritizing products. Here are some of the more important ones we think you should take into account:
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start prioritizing your product’s features.
The first step in effective product prioritization is creating a product roadmap. This will help you map out the features of your product and the order in which they should be developed.
The reason why prioritization is so important with roadmaps revolves around the fact that they have a fairly broad outlook. Project roadmaps don’t have to end here and now. Ideally, they should outline every single step of your product up to its market domination.
Since these aspirations can be very global, it’s essential to understand what the best path towards achieving this goal is. As you start prioritizing, you’ll slowly see a series of milestones appear, and along with them an increased sense of clarity.
As you arrive to a list of essential features, you can start ranking them by their importance both right now and in the grand scheme of things.
For each feature, ask yourself:
How important is this feature to our company's success?
How important is this feature to our customers?
What is the cost of developing this feature?
Narrowing down which features to include in a product can be a very challenging task for any product manager. Unfortunately, there are usually more features that can be incorporated in the product than there is time to do so. This is why prioritizing is such a critical part of the job.
When it comes to ranking features by their importance, you should always assess which ones are most important to your company and especially your customer base. Fortunately, there’s a variety of tried and trusted prioritization techniques that can help you with that.
Oh, and before we start exploring various ways of prioritizing features, it’s essential to underline that you can always choose the technique or a combination thereof that works best for your product and organization. There’s no single “right” way to do that.
This one's pretty straightforward. You look at how many feature requests are made for each potential feature and prioritize the ones that are requested the most.
This method is good because it's customer-driven in the most fundamental of ways. However, it can be susceptible to what's known as the tyranny of the majority. This is when a small group of people who are very vocal about a particular feature can sway your decision, even if the majority of your customers don't actually want or need that feature.
Another customer-led approach is looking at the number of requests for a feature versus the number of defects associated with that feature.
This is a good way to prioritize because it gives you a sense of which features are most important to your customers and which ones are causing the most problems.
This is a technique that analyzes both the business value of a feature and how complex it is to implement.
You can use this matrix to prioritize features by plotting them on a graph with business value on the x-axis and complexity on the y-axis.
The features that fall into the upper-right quadrant are the ones you should prioritize because they have high business value and aren't too complicated to build.
This is similar to the value/complexity matrix, but it looks at the impact of a feature on your customers and how much effort it will take to implement.
You can use this matrix to prioritize features by plotting them on a graph with customer impact on the x-axis and implementation effort on the y-axis.
The features that fall into the upper-right quadrant are the ones you should prioritize because they have high customer impact and aren't too complex to execute.
RICE is a prioritization framework used by Product Managers at Slack.
It stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort.
You can use this framework to score features on each of these dimensions and then prioritize the ones with the highest scores.
RICE is a great way to prioritize features because it takes into account both the impact on customers and the effort required to build the feature.
There are a few other factors you should consider when prioritizing features for product development, such as:
You should also keep in mind that your priorities may change over time as your product evolves and as you learn more about your customers' needs. Product prioritization is an ongoing process, not a one-time decision.
What's most important is that you have a system for making decisions about what to build next so that you can move forward confidently and efficiently.
If you're not sure where to start, the Product Prioritization Matrix is a great tool to help you prioritize features for your product development roadmap.
Product managers use a variety of tools and techniques to prioritize products, features, and initiatives. One of the most popular methods is the product prioritization matrix, also known as the product prioritization framework.
This system is similar to MoSCoW prioritization (must have, should have, could have, and won't have), but it's specifically designed for product management.
The product prioritization matrix is a framework that helps you prioritize features and initiatives by looking at their impact on the user, feasibility, and business value.
Here's how it works:
That final step usually consists of four quadrants:
Now that we understand the quadrants, Let's take a closer look at each of the three factors in the product prioritization matrix.
Now that we've gone over the basics of the product prioritization matrix, let's put it into action.
To prioritize your product backlog, start by looking at the user impact and feasibility of each item. Then, rank them in order of importance. The most important items should be at the top of your list.
From there, you can start to assess the business value of each item. If an item has a high user impact and is feasible to build, but doesn't have much business value, it might not be worth pursuing.
However, if an item has a high user impact and is feasible to build, AND it has a high business value, then it should be given priority.
Remember, when prioritizing your product backlog, always keep the user in mind. What features will make their life easier? What pain points are we trying to solve?
By focusing on the user, you'll be able to build a product that is not only successful but also loved.
Once you have identified the quadrant that each feature falls into, you can then prioritize the features by quadrant. Once you have this in place, you can start to build out your product roadmap and development timeline.
“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
Your Product Management prioritization Roadmap is your product's North Star.
When building your roadmap, you should always start with your product vision and then work backward. This will ensure that every item on your roadmap is in alignment with your overall product goals.
Once you have your product vision in place, you can start to map out the features that need to be built in order to achieve that vision.
Remember to keep the user top of mind when adding features to your roadmap and prioritize accordingly.
Having an effective and actionable roadmap in place is critical for any product manager. By having a roadmap, you can ensure that your team is always aware of the features that need to be developed and prioritized.
When building your roadmap, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Effective product management prioritization is essential to the success of any product and the basis of effective product management prioritization is customer data.
Reveall is the leading customer intelligence platform that helps product managers prioritize the right features to build next by uncovering hidden customer trends and behaviors.
If you're looking for the data you need to prioritize your product development roadmap, Reveall is the answer.
Our platform makes it easy to collaborate across teams, get clarity on findings, and turn your data into clear actionable decisions.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you build the best products for your customers, or sign up for our free trial!