Product Manager, if I may use an analogy, is an orchestrator of a band who decides when to start or which instruments to play, working with the team to create a melodious symphony. Hence, needless to say, it is imperative for the Product Manager to clearly define and own the product roadmap, communicate it to all the stakeholders and work day-to-day with development teams to execute on the product roadmap.
As Product Managers, we all have wondered what is best technique to manage our product’s feature prioritization at some point of our careers. Backlog Prioritization and maintenance, if not the most important, is definitely one of the key responsibilities of a Product Manager. I too have spent countless hours on reading and understanding industry best practices for feature prioritization; one that encompasses both quantitative and qualitative aspects of feature prioritization. After all being data-driven decision makers a part of Product Manager’s profile.
But as most of you would agree, no off-the-shelf process or framework would fit directly to your organization or team. Process/ framework need to be tailored to fit your company’s culture and at the same time gain equivocal acceptance from all the stakeholders involved. We too @ faced similar challenge and ended up creating one that is an amalgamation of 2-3 best practices. To design an effective feature prioritization framework, we need to consider following 3 questions illustrated below. I will try to share with you the frameworks I though would be useful and how it relates to our business model.
Question 1: How do you map your customer Journey?
The SaaS company that has set out in an arduous journey to revolutionize stratified community management, providing council/HOA board with all the necessary tools to manage their community effectively. We follow a freemuim-premuim model and use Pirate Metrics to monitor our customer journey and product’s success. Using Pirate Metrics gives use easily identifiable buckets in the customer journey.
Question 2: How do you categorize your product features?
We categorize our themes/epics into one of the following three buckets.
- Customer requests
You can read more about these in blog post by Adam Nash. Once you start categorizing the epics into one above mentioned buckets, you can clearly understand on the epics to focus upon. In my experience, we usually give epics under metric-movers the highest priority, followed by Customer-request and then Delighters. Then again, it is always advisable to use common sense too as you know what is best for your product.
Question 3: Lastly, what parameters are most important to you while evaluating a feature and start scoring features w.r.t each one of them.
This is also referred as weighted scoring method. It is good practice to identified the parameters that are most important to our product individually and the later share it with all the stakeholders for approval and feedback. It is very important for all the stakeholder to agree upon these criteria. These criteria will also serve as input to your cost-benefit analysis while deciding between various features (note: in the screenshot shared below parameters in green are benefits and ones in red are costs). We use 5-point scoring along with the weighted average. [To learn more see: Weighted decision matrix]
Now that the framework is ready, we can use the combination of the 3 to decide on the product feature priority. Note that other factors such as maturity of the product, organization’s strategy and critical product bugs also influence the prioritization which I would be covering in my next blog.
Hope you found my article interesting and useful. I would love to hear you comment and feedback. I am sure there are ways we can further refine the model that can be used by all. Thank you.