Product management considers feature prioritization as the determination of the importance of a feature based on its value to the customer, the amount of time and cost, and its technical viability. Having an organization here is paramount to building an efficient roadmap for stakeholders. This allows product managers to focus on the most important features and make better decisions about which features to develop and release on the roadmap.
Product managers need a system, like feature prioritization frameworks, to prioritize features because, without one, they can easily get overwhelmed and make inadequate decisions. A system can help product managers compare the value of different features and make informed decisions about which ones to work on first. It also helps them manage customer feedback and keep their team aligned.
For product teams, product prioritization can be a complex decision. If you take too long to decide what initiative to work on next, you cut into already precious time. But taking shortcuts could lead to wasting time on products that lack impact. This is where product prioritization frameworks come in, to help you make more informed decisions faster and with less of a mental burden.
What are product prioritization frameworks
If prioritizing products is the destination, then prioritization frameworks are the tried-and-true route to get there. Your team cannot work on every idea and initiative simultaneously, so you need to choose your steps carefully. Product prioritization weighs ideas against constraints and opportunities to help you pick which product to create or initiative to work on next.
Product teams spend a lot of the day-to-day assessing options and making tradeoffs. With a seemingly endless list of features and initiatives that could be being worked on, but with limited resources to do that, prioritizing what is most impactful and adds the most user or business value is arguably the most important activity one can spend the time on.
Basically, product prioritization frameworks outline a repeatable process to consider variables for potential initiatives. Following a framework ensures that you do not forget to consider something vital or let personal bias get in the way.
4 common factors of product management decision-making
Product prioritization frameworks help you streamline decision-making and reduce mental fatigue, but they are not all the same thing. For instance, some frameworks base decisions on revenue costs or gains, while others put user needs front and center.
While there is not a one-size-fits-all framework for every team, here are four classes of key variables that you will come across in most of them.
1. Quantitative data
Nothing cuts through personal bias quite like cold, hard facts. Quantitative data lets you compare and communicate quantifiable metrics and goals like revenue, retention, and activation.
Examples of quantitative data from product research you could use in product prioritization include the following. Filtering session recordings by date and applying user attributes to measure how many new users exited your site before making it to an important step in the user journey, using an NPS survey as evidence that a customer segment who uses a particular product is unhappy, and ranking issues on a page based on heatmap data—for example, are users scrolling far enough down a key page to know which step to take next?
2. Qualitative insights
Your users are not robots or numbers on a page, so adding qualitative data to your decision-making adds critical context. Reviewing unmeasurable feedback also builds empathy for users.
If you are not using qualitative and quantitative research to inform your product strategy, you will fail. The flip side of this is that organizations can get carried away with data analysis. At the end of the day, it is up to the product manager to use their discretion, make decisions, and be willing to admit when things do not work and may need to be rolled back or edited.
Here are some examples of qualitative insights that will add perspective to your product prioritization framework. Mapping the full user journey with session recordings to understand how individual users combine features is key. Sending customer surveys with open-ended questions to learn about user goals and priorities you had not considered before is also important. Lastly, review user feedback from your product experimentation to determine whether you resolved customer issues, or if you missed the mark.
3. Company goals
Given that your product team does not work in a vacuum, you have to align your work with company goals and priorities. Instead, it is easier to get buy-in and build products that move the needle on KPIs.
f you have high confidence that implementing a product feature can lift a core KPI, such as revenue, it should certainly go on the strategic product roadmap. If there is more uncertainty around the payoff or the effort still needs to be sized up, it should go into the product backlog.
Examples of company goals that will affect your product prioritization are focusing on increasing retention within a specific timeframe, trying to reach product-market fit for a new user segment, and moving quickly to be the first solution with a particular product feature, or to be the first to solve a particular job-to-be-done.
4. Team resources
Finally, consider your team’s availability and resources during product prioritization. Gauging how long initiatives will take helps you fit products into a given sprint or timeframe.
A few examples of scenarios that could impact product prioritization are the following. First of all, you might have two teammates focusing on a new product launch for the upcoming quarter that cannot take on other projects, or planning to grow your product team in the coming months, or wanting a quick win after completing a big product push
Now you know resourceful information about prioritization frameworks. It is only up to you to put it into practice.