Good feature prioritization is very important for product managers to ensure efficient use of available resources. It helps you make decisions on what features should make it for a release and which ones get cut.
Many PMs would testify that it is often a struggle deciding what to do first, though. However, there are a variety of techniques you can employ to make prioritizing features easier. We consider a few easy ones in this article.
This is a simple strategy that has the enhancement of the user experience more at its core. Popularly used in agile settings, story mapping involves the use of user stories to prioritize features.
The approach lets you map out your product’s workflow from start to finish with the aid of cards. It involves the arrangement of cards in a way that depicts the customer journey from the beginning to the end.
With story mapping, you order tasks from top to bottom according to their importance. You then divide these tasks or user stories into releases by drawing a line across all of them.
Inspired by Anthony Ulwick’s Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI) theory, opportunity scoring is based on the idea that people only buy products because of the things they help to do. It requires you to consider the importance of a product relative to customer satisfaction to decide if it’s indeed worthwhile.
When trying to do opportunity scoring, you will first ask your customers how important they think each feature is and how satisfied they are with it currently. Customers will indicate the importance and satisfaction scores for each feature. It is these scores that help you to rank opportunities to know which to tackle first.
You should give higher priorities to features that users think are important and currently have low satisfaction scores.
Value vs. Effort Matrix
Matrices are also great tools for prioritizing features. They provide helpful visual aids for knowing what you should do next.
There are different types of matrices that product professionals use. One of the most popular is the Value vs. Effort variant. This simple product prioritization matrix lets you know at a glance the value of a feature and how hard it is to deliver.
The first square in the quadrant will contain initiatives or features that deliver the highest value while requiring the least effort. These initiatives are what you may think of as “quick wins.”
The second square of the product prioritization matrix contains features that have high values but also require much work. Third-square initiatives are easy to implement but are of little value. The last square contains tasks that should receive very little or no attention because they are hard to do and deliver low value.
Buy a Feature
This offers a fun way of prioritizing features and can involve your stakeholders and/or customers. Buy a Feature involves creating a list of features or updates and then assigning monetary values to them. The value should capture how much resources you would require to develop each feature.
In the next stage, you give a small group of customers or stakeholders a specific amount of money to “buy” the features they love. Ask the participants why they decided to buy particular features afterward.
Finally, use your findings from the game to order the features. The more participants spent on a feature, the higher on the list such should be.
Whatever approach you decide to use, it is helpful to not have too many items to prioritize. Feature prioritization should also ideally be done in a team.