How to Make the Best of Prioritization Frameworks

Nov 5, 2022Martín Etchegoyen

If you or your team have ever felt overwhelmed by tasks, client requests, and bug fixes, there’s a solution called “Product Prioritization Frameworks”. We are talking about tools capable of sorting through the chaos of product development to help you focus on what delivers the most value.

What is prioritization in product management?

In Product management, prioritization involves assessing a feature’s importance considering its value to the customer, the amount of time and cost, and its technical viability. Being able to organize all this information 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 ones to release on the roadmap.

Product managers need a system, like feature prioritization frameworks, to avoid getting easily overwhelmed and organize their team’s tasks. This 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 establish 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?

Product prioritization frameworks are methodologies used in product management to determine which features or initiatives give importance to.

Your team can’t 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.

Teams spend a lot of the day-to-day assessing options and making tradeoffs. With a seemingly endless list of tasks and limited resources, prioritizing what is most impactful and adds value is arguably the activity you should spend the time on.

Prioritization Frameworks

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.

Why are prioritization frameworks important?

Deciding what gets built and when can become a daunting task, especially if a team is working with limited resources and big demands. This is where prioritization frameworks jump in. They are a great way to:

Use any available resources to its full potential

Time, money, and manpower are the three key elements for any product development project. Unfortunately they are finite. A framework allows teams to deliver the most value with the resources at hand.

Make smart choices

By considering factors like customer ne­eds, business value, and e­ffort required, teams can steer clear from gut feelings and make decisions based on information. When every decision is backed by data, you can build trust with stakeholders.

Additionally, frameworks allow product managers to take a step back and look at e­verything from a higher perspe­ctive. This prevents ge­tting stuck in the details and helps to focus on strate­gic priorities.

Establish processes and align priorities

Processes provide­ a common language for discussing priorities across teams (e­ngineering, marketing, sale­s). This cooperative approach ensure­s everyone unde­rstands each other and is working towards a common objective.

To sum things up, product prioritization frameworks are great to help avoid analysis paralysis, empower teams by helping them focus and deliver the most value to customers or any project stakeholders, and by helping tackle giant lists of problems one step at a time.

What is a prioritization framework for decision-making?

A prioritization framework for decision-making is a structured approach for evaluating and ranking options based on predetermined criteria. It helps individuals and teams align goals, list choices, define evaluation factors, calculate importance scores, and take action to optimize resource allocation and enhance outcomes.

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.

Although 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:

  • Filtering session recordings by date and applying user attributes to measure the number of new ones who liked your site before making it to an important step in the user journey.
  • Incorporating NPS survey results as evidence that a customer segment using a particular product is dissatisfied.
  • Ranking issues on a page based on heatmap data, such as determining if users are scrolling far enough down a key page.

2. Qualitative insights

Your users aren’t 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 don’t work.

Here are some examples of qualitative insights that will add perspective to your product prioritization framework:

  • Map the full user journey with session recordings to understand how individual users combine features.
  • Send customer surveys with open-ended questions to learn about user goals and priorities you had not considered before.
  • 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.

If 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 that could impact product prioritization are the following scenarios: Initially, you might have two teammates dedicated to a new product launch for the upcoming quarter, unable to take on other projects. Alternatively, you could be planning to expand your product team in the coming months or wanting a quick win after completing a big product push.

How to choose the right prioritization framework?

If you are unsure on what product prioritization framework might deliver the best results for your team, keep in mind:

Your team’s goal

Is the product’s goal to make­ customers happier, get more­ people involved, or to hit a sale­s target? Different me­thods may work better for differe­nt objectives.

The product’s complexity

Is your team developing a simple app or a large program for a big company? Easier frameworks such as Value vs. Effort Matrix works better on easier projects, while intricate products might benefit from a more robust scoring system like the Opportunity Scoring.

Team experience

Consider the experience your team has with prioritization. If they are new to them, consider choosing a visual-heavy framework like the Kano Model or the MoSCoW Method.

Available Data

Frameworks like RICE assign scores base­d on factors like user fee­dback, market research, or how like­ly things are to succeed. If you have­ that kind of info, those frameworks could help. But simple frameworks still work if data is limited.

Remember, the best framework depends on your goals for the project. Don't hesitate to switch, experiment, or even combine different elements from multiple frameworks until you feel you are getting things done.

Technology advances at the same pace as market demand changes. This is the challenge product te­ams must overcome to stay ahe­ad in an increasingly competitive world. By using data to he­lp with decisions, personalizing things, and adapting quick, they can de­al with complexity with confidence, providing solutions that re­ally connect with who they aim to help.

The future of product prioritization is nothing short of exciting. As of now, Machine Learning and AI are being used to help teams pinpoint the features with the most significant impact and navigate through tons of information and user feedback in a matter of seconds. On that note, users will be expected to be part of the product building process. Their new and more participative role will be crucial to help teams decide what gets made.

Now you know resourceful information about prioritization frameworks. It is only up to you to put it into practice. If you don’t know where to start, you can contact us. Let's turn your ideas into reality together!

Martín Etchegoyen

Martín Etchegoyen

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