How to Prioritize Product Features - 8 Steller Strategies

Product Management
September 16, 2022
10 mins read
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Product owners are often left with the challenge of selecting the appropriate feature from a pool of feature requests. These features build a product from scratch and choosing the wrong feature can affect a product’s performance in the market. In fact, one of the top reasons behind the failure of most startups is building a product that doesn’t have a market need. 

So, what does it mean for product owners? Selecting the appropriate features and ideas is one of the inherent responsibilities of product owners. The only way to gain expertise here is by using the right feature prioritization frameworks

This guide will include some of the tried and tested product feature prioritization techniques that can help the product owners to identify appropriate features based on time, resources, and urgency. 

So, let’s get started. 

8 Strategies to Prioritise Product Features

Here are a few effective product prioritization strategies that product managers can adopt to build a streamlined process: 

1. Analyze product features with respect to feasibility, viability, and desirability

As a product owner, you need to leave personal biases and common opinions aside and analyze each feature request on the basis of feasibility, viability, and desirability. In most cases, this can reduce a lot of ambiguities and provide you with a clear direction. 

Here is more information on these criteria: 

Feasibility 

Find out if the listed features are technically feasible to the current resources. To figure this out, the product manager will need the insights from the product development team. Back-end engineers, front-end engineers, and UI developers can give you a clear picture of whether the features you are selecting are deployable. 

Viability 

Product managers have to think long-term. It is not that you find a feature request useful and incorporate it readily. You have to find out whether the addition of this feature will affect your product strategy or if it will increase the commercial value of your product. The selected feature should be such that it qualifies with your business strategy as well as the market trends. 

Desirability 

Feature requests are made by customers. But that doesn’t mean that all customers are seeking the same features. So, before freezing any feature request, conduct in-depth research on customers’ requirements and then make the final call. 

2. Apply RICE scoring 

Feature requests can be complicated. Hence, product managers need to dig deeper into each feature before prioritizing a single feature. One of the best product prioritization frameworks that can assist you here is called the RICE scoring method

RICE Prioritisation Framework

Here is how this method works: 

  • The “R” in RICE scoring stands for Reach. It determines, if a feature is incorporated, how many stakeholders will it impact for a particular period. You can measure simple metrics like - customers per quarter, and transactions per month to identify the reach. 
  • The “I” in the RICE acronym stands for Impact. This factor determines the extent to which a feature is inclined with your product strategy. You can use a defined multiple-choice scale where 5 represents the biggest impact while 1 denotes the least impact and everything else is in-between. 
  • The next factor is Confidence. This factor estimates your level of confidence regarding the success of a product. Are you confident that incorporating this feature will enhance the value of your product? You can be 100% confident or 50% confident, and the RICE score will change accordingly. 
  • Finally, “E” stands for Effort. Adding a feature to a product will involve a lot of effort from multiple employees, including the product development team, design team, support team, and so on. Estimate this as well to get the complete RICE score. 

3. Identify feature themes 

Choice paralysis is real and pretty common for product owners. With tons of features, product managers often develop choice paralysis and they are unable to select the most appropriate feature request. 

One of the best ways to deal with this is adding feature themes/groups. You can pick a feature theme and add the relevant features under that theme. For example, you can pick a theme called “Integration,” and all the features related to software integration can come under this theme. 

Converting the features into feature groups/themes can free up a lot of your time. Instead of identifying which feature to prioritize first, you can focus on prioritizing an entire theme and incorporate all features that are part of it. 

Now the question is, how will you select these themes? 

Here are a few suggestions: 

  • You can break down different stages of your product roadmap and convert each of these into an individual theme. For example, communication, analytics, integration, etc., are already part of a product roadmap. These can be individual themes to sort the product features. 
  • Another way to identify themes is through the level of impact. For example, if there are some features that can increase the conversion rate of the product, you can group them together and name the theme “Conversion rate booster”. However, be careful as some of the features may fall under multiple metric groups and hence complicate the process for you. 

Once you create the themes, focus on prioritizing the themes. After that, you can easily prioritize the features and start the implementation process. 

4. Try the Opportunity Scoring Method 

Another popular feature prioritization framework is Opportunity scoring. In this framework, you can rank the feature requests based on their significance and the satisfaction level of customers.  To perform this method, you will need support from the customers. You can ask customers to vote or score the satisfaction level for each feature request. This will give the product managers direction on which features to prioritize first. 

Opportunity Prioritisation Framework

5. Use the Kano Model 

Kano model is one of the most complicated yet effective features prioritization frameworks. It helps you analyze each feature from the customers’ perspective so that you can prioritize better. This model breaks down each feature into the following categories: 

  • The attractive needs. If you add these features to the product, you can easily delight the customers. However, not adding these features won’t leave the customers dissatisfied. 
  • The performance needs are those features that delight the customers and also dissatisfy them if these features are absent.  
  • Finally, the basic needs features are those that your customers expect and the absence of these features will leave the customers extremely dissatisfied. 

Kano Prioritisation model

It is tricky to categorize the features appropriately. Hence, to simplify the process, product managers can interview 12-24 customers and ask them simple questions like: 

  • Which feature will be most satisfying? 
  • How would the customers feel if a particular feature is absent in the product? 

You can use customers’ responses to fit the Kano Model curve and accordingly prioritize the feature requests based on customers’ emotions. 

6. Perform value vs. complexity analysis 

Another feature prioritization framework that helps product managers is the value vs. complexity model. This framework analyzes each feature based on relevant value and complexity. Product managers very commonly use this product feature prioritization matrix. The feature with the highest business value and lowest effort should be prioritized first as per this model. 

Value vs complexity analysis to Prioritize Product Features

7. Perform story mapping 

The story mapping feature prioritization framework helps product managers to map their workflows from beginning to end. As a result, you can develop a streamlined approach to feature request management and prioritize the relevant features easily. 

Story mapping

Here are a few steps to follow for successful story mapping: 

  • Create a detailed, step-by-step workflow. Use a Kanban board if required. The tasks should be in such an order that they focus on customer experience end-to-end. 
  • Now go through all the steps from top to bottom and find out the most important features. 
  • Prioritize the features based on the level of importance. 

8. Perform constraint-based prioritization 

Finally, a great product feature prioritization approach is to look into the constraints. There are various constraints like time, process, people, etc., that can affect your product strategy. Find out the constraints in each of these categories and analyze how you can remove these constraints to get the best results. 

Importance of having a Repeatable Process to do Feature Prioritization 

A repeatable process to perform product feature prioritization can save time for your internal teams. It ensures that you are performing optimal utilization of internal resources. Here is why a repeatable product feature prioritization feature matters: 

  • It helps you build a streamlined workflow instead of going back and forth every time there is a new feature request. 
  • A repeatable process helps you stay one step ahead of the competitors by saving time and using the resources optimally. 
  • It helps you retain more customers and lets you establish a customer-centric brand that prioritizes customers’ feature requests. 

Common Pitfalls to avoid while doing Feature Prioritization 

Product prioritization is difficult! To keep it error-free, avoid the following mistakes: 

1. Prioritizing features that receive the loudest responses 

Product managers may encounter many such internal stakeholders who are more vocal about certain features. As a result, they can affect the priorities of the product managers in the loudest voices. 

However, if a product manager prioritizes features based on this, it is going to be a critical mistake. In fact, features dictated by the loudest voices are not necessarily the ideal features that should be prioritized. Therefore, product managers should make their final decisions purely based on collected data and urgency. 

2. Making decisions without sufficient information 

We know that product managers face a lot of pressure from internal and external stakeholders. Hence, sometimes they are forced to make decisions without going into the depth of information. That is again a critical mistake. Feature prioritization is a rather critical task that should be completed only after analyzing sufficient information. Hence, product managers should select any of the above-mentioned feature prioritization frameworks, analyze all available data correctly and then select a feature. 

3. Not making the most of customer insights  

Remember that as a product manager, you are building a product for the customers. Hence, the decision you make should always be aligned with customers’ insights. Therefore, ignoring customer insights will surely be a mistake. It is a must for the product team to consolidate all customer insights in one place, sort them based on priorities and then make a final call. This is the only way to make your products satisfactory for customers. 

Feature prioritization checklist for Product Managers 

Now that you have a clear understanding of product feature prioritization, here is a quick checklist to help you get started: 

  • Go through your product strategy and make sure that you are looking at the bigger picture. Make these long-term strategies part of your feature prioritization framework. 
  • Start with data collection. Collect and consolidate all data you have related to customers. These could be feature ideas, requests, feedback, and suggestions. 
  • Welcome to the hardest step of feature request prioritization - data analysis. It is time to analyze all collected customer data through various frameworks like RICE scoring, Kano Model, and so on. You can also categorize the feature requests into themes to simplify the prioritization process. 
  • Now that you have successfully prioritized the feature requests, it is time to communicate with all stakeholders. You can include the prioritized features in the existing product roadmap to inform the internal stakeholders. For external stakeholders like customers, make sure to keep them updated on which features have been added and which are not. 

Accelerate Feature Request Prioritization with Zeda.io 

Are you finding the whole process of feature request prioritization hard? Well, you need a high-performance, end-to-end feature request prioritization tool like Zeda.io. It can take care of all your product management requirements and help you with: 

  • In-depth data collection 
  • Detailed data analysis to identify feature requests
  • Using feature prioritization frameworks like RICE scoring, value effort matrix, etc. to make an impactful decision 
  • Execute the feature upgrades successfully 
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