Prioritization is one of the most challenging components of product management. When done correctly, it is a data-backed process to decide the relative importance and sequence of features your team would develop based on the values they bring to the customers. And it is no simple practice.
For starters, product management teams have to collect feedback from their customers and keep an ear to the ground to do it. Approximately a quarter of product managers agree that it is challenging to set roadmap priorities without data. Another challenge is disagreements between various departments. For example, the developers vote for Feature A while stakeholders suggest that Feature B should be prioritized.
The correct choice will help you deliver more value to your customers and make them more satisfied, yet, the wrong decision will consume a lot of your resources while taking you nowhere. Simply put, a proper prioritization framework is critical for product development teams.
As mentioned above, before thinking about features, or getting into what prioritization frameworks we should use, we must analyze our target audience's primary needs to satisfy them. Product managers need to rewire their approach to make the customer needs' the core of their proposal and their product roadmap.
The customer-centric approach has become ingrained in all aspects of technology product management today, as well as almost any aspect of the work of 21st-century companies, no matter what industry they come from. It should not be different when discussing potential features.
3 Strategies for Prioritization Framework
Once we have performed some product research it is time to start with the process. There are more than a few strategies to prioritize features in a product backlog. Some of them focus on how urgent the feature is, while others are more linked to the benefit/effort ratio. Silver bullets are a thing of the past, particularly in the customer-centric world we currently live in. Product managers need to know by heart all these methods and be proficient when it comes to a specific prioritization framework to make the right call at any given moment. Here are some of the most relevant strategies.
1. RICE methodology
The RICE acronym refers to each of the focuses you can get when making the most of this prioritization framework. When discussing a potential feature, you should also consider the following elements. Reach is the number of customers that will be reached with a feature. The impact score goes from 0,25 lowest to 3 the highest. It also is important to the percentage of certainty that you have, based on research or statistics, and the effort made based on a relationship between person and month.
Then, once you have all the numbers, you can work that feature prioritization magic by using the equation to get the final score. The RICE score allows product managers to have an overview of their predictions. This prioritization framework is a quantitative strategy, and in some cases, might not be the most effective. However, when it comes to making more objective, complex decisions, it comes in quite handy.
2. Priority Scorecard
With this method, any product manager and their team can quantify each feature's priority by designing their categories. Along with the other members of your team, define each category and assign them a symbolic weight. Now you can provide 100 points by type to each meeting participant. After a discussion to make sure everybody is on the same page, they can start assigning their points and prioritizing features.
Moreover, you should create different categories for product teams and technical teams and analyze the same feature list classifying them based on that Scorecard. That way, your feature prioritization process will provide easy features that can have an impact on clients.
3. Opportunity Scoring
Also known as opportunity analysis or gap analysis, this feature prioritization framework sheds light on features that users consider important and undeveloped. Opportunity scoring is a great way to detect new opportunities while reducing risks since it heavily relies on user feedback.
If a feature is regarded as of high importance but low satisfaction, then teams should improve it. On the contrary, if a feature receives a low score in both satisfaction and importance, it can be left and move the creative efforts elsewhere. And lastly, if users consider a feature booth satisfactory and important, management can prioritize new ways of improving the ROI by stepping up the innovation related to this feature.
2 First-Level Prioritization Frameworks
1. Kano Model
The Kano model allows product managers to evaluate features by analyzing customer data. According to this product management prioritization framework, features are divided into five categories based on their level of satisfaction and functionality.
It takes little time for the product team to prioritize features based on the Kano Model after the survey results are collated. It indicates a product's current strengths and weaknesses. You can rank product features based on the customer’s needs.
2. Weighted Scoring
This model allocates a weighted percentage score to various features based on parameters such as objectives and cost. Product teams will need to specify the criteria that are considered relevant concerning the product’s vision and the company’s mission before applying this strategy. You need to discuss how the weights are assigned to each feature with your team. After all of the criteria have been scored, the scores are added together, and the characteristics are ranked.
3. Story Mapping
A story map comprises a horizontal axis that represents the user journey and a vertical axis that represents priority. After the product manager has finished the story map, they will have a list of features sorted by importance and usage sequence.
Story mapping is a beautiful way to plan out a minimum viable product and keep track of a growing list of features. Features that are higher on the priority list deserve more attention than those lower on the list.
In design, the prioritization framework is a very important tool that you need to learn to handle correctly if you want to take your design career to the next level.