Feature Prioritisation in Product Management

Let me start by stating the obvious here. Yes, there is no such thing as too many features or ideas for the stakeholders. From spur-of-the-moment suggestions to the constant flow of user feedback, there is always an idea worth exploring. How does a company then decide the order in which the features are to be developed? Whether the company is building the MVP or looking to improve an existing product, resources are limited. The solution is to develop features in an order that provides maximum value to the users.

Feature Prioritization is the process of deciding the order of developing the features of a product. It is a vital task that is owned and managed by the Product Manager. One of the biggest hurdles that a Product Manager faces is listening to the loudest or the “most important” stakeholder. Many times, features are given priority because of a client’s demand or at the request of a small but influential subset of people. It may result in the prioritization of a feature with low business impact. Identifying and avoiding biases and influences is key to determining the most profitable feature order.

Feature Prioritization frameworks come into the picture to solve this predicament. They assist the Product Manager by providing a quantitative base to determine the prominence given to features in a product roadmap. The goal of using these frameworks is to silence the loudest voice in the room and curate the product roadmap based on charts and rankings tied to customer data and product vision. I will enumerate and discuss three of the most popular Product prioritization frameworks currently in use:

  1. RICE framework
  • One of the most popular frameworks, RICE stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence and Effort.
  • This framework enables the product manager to identify the feature that will deliver the most impact.
  • This method works by assigning a RICE score to each feature computed by the formula = (R*I*C)/E. For each component of RICE, a number is assigned based on a scoring system or a quantitative metric is used.
  • Reach = No of users affected by the feature in a period. E.g.: No of transactions conducted, percentage of users using the feature, etc.
  • Impact = How much has this feature addition impacted the users of the product? For example, A scaling system is used to measure impact, with 5 being Highly impactful and 1 being No impact.
  • Confidence = How confident is the company regarding the reach and impact scores that they have assigned to this feature? 80% implies high confidence, whereas 30% shows low confidence in estimating impact and reach.
  • Effort: How many resources are needed to develop this feature? Monetary cost or Man-hour estimation is utilized to determine total effort.
  • Once the RICE score of all the features is computed, they then incorporate the feature with the highest score into the product roadmap first

2. Value vs Complexity Matrix

· It is one of the easiest and frequently used techniques to prioritize features.

· The logic for the matrix is simple, create a 2*2 (or 3*3, depending on how many levels you want) matrix plotting Business value/Impact vs Effort.

· The matrix makes it easy to identify that the high impact low effort features are the ones that need to be tackled first.

· Once the features have been bucketed into the respective quadrants, the product manager can make decisions based on the trade-off between impact and effort.

3. Story Mapping

· Story mapping involves creating the entire workflow or user journey of the end-user when using the product.

· Bucket and list the features under the respective phase of the user journey.

· The key is to list features such that the higher priority features are placed above. This exercise allows the product team to immediately identify which features need to be built first.

· It is a collaborative framework that involves the entire team. Since it is centred around the user experience, the features that enhance the UX get identified easily.

In conclusion, these are just some of the various frameworks that Product Managers use. Other popular alternatives are the Kano Model, Weighted Scoring, Opportunity Scoring and the Product Tree. While these frameworks help provide a quantitative base to make decisions on, the Product manager should make sure everyone in the team is on the same page. An effective Feature prioritization strategy will ensure the timely success of the product, the team, the company and ultimately enhance the customer experience.

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