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Importance of Prioritization & how to prioritize product features?


Many products fail because they prioritized the wrong ideas. Choosing the right features are difficult, but it is necessary for the success of your product.

The list can be long, however finding out what's the best for your product and company really matters.

It gets harder when a lot of people are involved, because Ideas can be different. If there is a problem, I might look it from a different angle and you might have a completely different view and there will be opinions from stakeholders who has got a control over your project and in some cases their opinions are not based on data or any sort of validation.

It's your duty as a PM to choose the right features that will align with your company's vision. As a leader, we need to make sure everyone is onboard, it's all about selecting the best idea based on its merit and demerits and making the stakeholders understand why we shouldn't simply follow our gut feeling rather than evaluating it based on data.


Let's move to some of the prioritization frameworks out there which help you to reason with others on why you have selected a particular feature over the others.


1. The first step would be to breakdown the features/improvements based on the desirability (do customers want it?), feasibility (can we build it?) and viability (how do we make money out of it?).




  1. Do user research and find out if it is something your customer want.

  2. Understand if this feature will support your company goals and product strategy, whether it will increase the revenue?

  3. Find out if it is technically possible with the current resources and infrastructure of your company, what's possible and what's not?

Let’s do this with a simple example, Assume that I want to go for a vacation and I reside in India. Travelling is my passion. I make sure I travel to a new country every year.

Everyone wants to take a break from their daily routine right!


User Persona:

Name - Raj

Age -28

Location - India

Job - Product Manager


Goals

  • Wants to travel to a new country

  • Finding local favorites and learning about local culture

  • Likes to meet people from different locations

  • Avoiding any tourist traps

  • Searching an ideal place for an outdoor adventure

  • Click some good pictures for social media and blogs

Frustration

  • Not able to find activities based on my like

  • Limited days to travel

  • On a budget trip

Influences

  • Travel blogs

  • Expedia

  • Friends

  • Travel pages on social media

User story: As a user I want to travel, so that I can explore different places, do distinct adventurous activities and socialize with people from various locations. Now that's my desire.


I can take only 1 week break from my work, so it's not feasible for me to travel to distant places.


Now I have the desire to travel and it is feasible as far as its takes only a week , time to check if its viable to travel , I have 1000 dollars with me.


So I need to find out places where I can travel in a weeks time and survive with 1000 dollars, but at the same time it should satisfy my desires as well. Time to fill in the sweet spot.


2. After validating the data, and days of research, I have come up with different options (destinations), now I need to prioritize the ideal destination for this year.

You can map them on a XY plot (Value/Effort matrix)





Value is nothing but the potential benefit it would bring to the me, higher the value the better. These are corresponding values.



Now time to evaluate the effort, it can be the cost in this case.


Value/Effort would help me to find out the best return on investment. In this case you can see, Thailand has scored the highest so probably I should go there first. Bali is also worth pursing based on the data.



3. If you think you need to consider more details to prioritize your request than a simple value/effort, you can try the ICE or RICE method, this happens if the feature is complicated or the value/effort scores are almost same for multiple features.


In ICE method,


Impact - It is a measure on how much this feature will impact the overall product vision?

Confidence - How confident you are that this feature will be a success?

Ease - How difficult is it to achieve it?


ICE Sore = Impact*Confidence*Ease


In our example, Impact is the overall satisfaction this place would bring to me, Confidence, is on how confident I'm with respect to each destination and ease, here is the ease to get there from my home (travel time), less travel time more I get to explore.


Thailand is still a winner and Bali is the second choice, nothing much has changed here.


Note - For value vs effort and ICE method, These values are rated on a relative scale of 1–10 so not to over-weigh any of them.


You can choose what 1–10 means, as long the rating stays consistent.


In RICE method, It considers a 4th element called Reach and Ease is replaced with Effort.


Reach - How many users will this feature Impact over a given time period. (User count)

Impact - It is a measure of how much this feature will impact the overall product vision? It is difficult to measure precisely. So, we choose from a multiple-choice scale: 3 for “massive impact”, 2 for “high”, 1 for “medium”, 0.5 for “low”, and finally 0.25 for “minimal”

Confidence - How confident you are that this feature will be a success? (In percentage)

Effort - How much time and effort are required, this can be measured in (persons - months)


It requires a calculation





Based on the example, Impact is the overall satisfaction this place would bring to me, Confidence is on how confident I'm with respect to each destination and ease here is the ease to get there from my home (travel time), less travel time more I get to explore.



Looks like Thailand wants me badly, rest of the items goes to my backlog where Bali sits on the top of my backlog. Ibiza is a good candidate too but the effort is too much.

There are more methods out there which helps in feature prioritization, Kano model, MOSCOW method, story mapping etc. But the point is this never ends, as soon as you are finished with one release, you plan for the next one with new set of data. New features are always exciting but it needs to be validated properly to bring in the best results and as a PM it is our duty to do so considering the overall product vision and company's strategy.

I have tried to explain some of the frameworks with a real life example to convey the concept in a simple way, but I hope you guys got the point!

Everything is changing as we speak, so what you waiting for , you have lot to prioritize!



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