Even the most experienced product managers when planning their roadmaps may be worried about how to decide what to work on first. As an essential part of product strategy, prioritization is worth to be permanently studied and improved. In my recent post, I just shared some insights on how to manage product strategy, so now it’s time to elaborate on prioritization that helps to solve a lot of issues.
Why is prioritization a challenge for product managers? Here’re some reasons:
Prioritization skill means getting more out of limited time. How to choose the best way to prioritize among the various approaches, methodologies, and frameworks?
Here I combine some of the best approaches on how to prioritize product features into one basic list.
A simple and easy way to understand the Value and Effort concept is to visualize it on 2x2 matrix.
2x2 matrix of Lean prioritization helps in decision making and identifying what is important or risky and where to direct the efforts. This matrix is usually associated with the classic Eisenhower matrix.
The 2x2 matrix is widely used for feature prioritization in product management as it helps to sort out all the items and put things in order.
All you need is to draw a large “plus” sign on a whiteboard and mark “Value” and “Effort” along the vertical and horizontal axes or use any powerful product management tool with a built-in framework based on the matrix.
Comparing the Value and Effort combination helps to prioritize tasks better and choose the most important for development. Value demonstrates which business value the feature can bring to your product; Effort measures the resources needed to complete the task.
You must revisit the matrix regularly and re-balance it when necessary — the items deemed to be low value some months ago may now be higher value relatively compared to other features on the backlog.
Dive into the details of the Lean Prioritization method.
MoSCoW is one of the easiest methods for requirement prioritization. Its name has nothing in common with the capital of Russia. The acronym MSCW (must, should, could, would) was first announced in 1994 by Dai Clegg. Then people added double “o” to make the acronym pronounceable.
The prioritization method allows you to categorize your list of requirements, ideas or features into the following sets:
If it looks difficult, to try to get it with the easy to understand example:
Let’s dive into a cheesy case not strongly related to product management. Imagine you are worried about how to make your product team’s daily meetings more productive and efficient.
You are planning to rent a new meeting room for your team with extra seats, conferences opportunities, and high-tech communication devices to hold daily stand-ups more efficiently.
The room that you already have is too cramped, not so comfortable as it might be and not adapted for holding high-quality remote conferences with colleagues and partners from other countries.
So, defining priorities according to the MoSCoW method, you’ll get:
What are the benefits of this technique?
The MoSCoW method helps to rank and classify your product items to get a successful result. The method is based on the expert opinion of your team. It is easy and quick to complete and defines priorities of features that are in progress.
Learn more about the MoSCoW technique.
If you care about prioritizing customer satisfaction and delight, the Kano model is one of the most excellent options.
Product managers may admit that very often, their feature backlog seems endless, but they sincerely want to create a product roadmap with the right features. Despite this, there are still many questions: How to measure satisfaction? How to choose what to build to provide it? How to go beyond satisfaction into the full delight? The Kano Model is a powerful prioritization tool to guide through these questions.
Noriaki Kano developed the Kano theory of product development and customer satisfaction in the 1980s.There are three premises, according to the model:
The author identifies three main components of the quality profile:
1) Basic. That corresponds to the fundamental characteristics of the product.
2) Expected. That should correspond to the “quantitative” attributes of the product.
3) Attractive. That corresponds to the admirable characteristics of the product.
They help to understand customers’ perspectives on product features by assessing their satisfaction and sentiment.
Discover more details of the popular Kano Model.
RICE scoring system looks like one of the most claimed models for the product manager’s needs nowadays. If you first meet this acronym, here’s its brief explanation:
RICE includes the following components: Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort.
You need to combine these factors to get your RICE score.
Dive into the details of the RICE scoring system.
ICE score model allows you to get things done and prioritize your product features without extra requirements. You have to calculate the score per each idea, according to the following formula:
The values are rated on a relative scale of 1–10 so as not to over-weigh any of them. Choose what 1–10 means, as long the rating stays consistent.
The crucial goal of ICE scoring is to prevent you from being bogged down in trying to fine-tune the score too much. This prioritization approach is good enough to get the job done.
Learn more about the ICE score technique.
This advanced approach for prioritization assists to decide objectively what features and product ideas perform next.
A scoring system is a convenient and low-cost way to determine the relative value of any number of things. Turn this scoring to the advanced level!
With the help of the Weighted Scoring, you rank your product features or ideas with a benefit-versus-cost framework on a number of criteria and apply the scores you’ve come up with to define which initiatives to cut.
According to your product goals and the global strategy, you may choose particular criteria.
It can be, for example (in terms of potential benefits):
In terms of costs, you may score time and cost of development, time and cost of implementation, operational costs and so on.
The main idea of this prioritization method is to quantify each competing initiative on your list to help you prioritize the product roadmap.
Companies apply the Weighted scoring to evaluate what they think is the relative impact on strategic objectives for new features.
If you want to know more about the Weighted scoring, feel free to learn the detailed tutorial.
Each of these techniques seems useful and effective for different product management needs. Having tried all of them, you will definitely find the best option. However, even if this not happens, you have a chance to try other prioritization approaches. Try to apply such techniques as Quality Function Deployment, Story Mapping, KJ methodology, “Feature buckets” and others.
Do you want to know more about them? Well, I guess it’s time for me to plan the next post about it ;)