Product Management: "The Prioritizations"

Generally, people think of prioritizations as a queuing-up set of tasks and execute them in sequence. In the real world, it’s more complex than it sounds.

My Background

Currently, I am working for a digital advertising firm as a Sr. Product Manager and VP of Products. This ad platform constantly serving a large number of ads globally.

Here, I would like to share my personal experience and the relevant methods that I use to manage priorities.

What is Prioritization?

Ideally, it is the process of identifying a list of items that matters for the business or a product from the most to the least. Also, the prioritization process generally ends up with a roadmap.

Why the Prioritization is so important?

Being a product manager, you are always juggling with Company agendas, your sales team wants to introduce new features to customers as soon as they can. Your CXOs want to showcase the product to market by some date. The engineering team wants to push certain fixes and sub-features in the next releases. Management wants the team to reduce costs at all possible places. Being a product manager, you wanted your product to be on top in the competition. Customer account managers want to resolve several high-priority issues that customers are facing. Lastly, the support and operations team wants to implement some features that are efficient in customer administration and saves their time.

To sum up, it’s always difficult but necessary to identify and pick the right things, and leave the unnecessary noise behind.

What’s so complex?

Prioritization is not an isolated activity. It requires inputs from various departments and stakeholders. Gathering all types of inputs requires many discussions, idea sharing, and vision mapping.

Generally, the below list of questions should be answered for each item before the process of prioritization. (This varies depends on the type of business you are in.)

  • How this feature got discovered? From existing customers? Or any hypothesis?

  • Who benefits by this feature? And how?

  • How important this feature is for the business?

  • Is this feature aligned to the vision of the business?

  • How fast existing customers wants it?

  • What’s the strategic value and customer value of it?

  • How difficult is this feature to implement? Any guesstimate?

  • … (There will be more than this)

What method I use?

Value vs Efforts

If you have less than five things to prioritize, you don’t need to use any method because you might already know the execution sequence because the items are fewer. However, if you have fifty things to prioritize, I believe “Value vs Efforts” is one of the best methods one can use.

I would like to share a template as well here. Please make use of this template according to your need.

< Click here to view the template — Value vs Effort>

This is a Scoring based Model. Here, I tried to capture the business & strategic values, also business urgency to create a business score, and captured other teams’ estimated efforts for each item to identify the effort scoring. Finally, the final score will state that the feature is how much important and when should we pick it. We can queue the items accordingly.

After seeing the final score, in the end, the result will look like this. This is also similar to the Eisenhower matrix.

Story mapping

Story mapping is useful when you have a bunch of applications (or similar use-case)and you wanted to figure out the number of important items to develop first for each application section. This is a well-known technique. You can learn more about it here.

MoSCoW

This is one of the simplest and popular methods for prioritization. Basically, you need to list out the set of features in four different categories as mentioned below. This method is always handy and easy to implement when you have limited items to prioritize. For example, you just need to plan MVPs or a couple of initial releases.Ref: here

These are the other prioritization frameworks, you can read about them here ( I like this article):

  • KANO

  • Opportunity scoring

  • Product tree

  • Cost of delay

  • Buy a feature

Conclusion:

There are many frameworks available for prioritization. I would like to say that you are the one who can decide which one is most suitable depending upon the structure of your business and the nature of items to prioritize.

Personally, I really like the “Value vs Efforts/Complexity” chart method for neatly and accurately identify the correct sequence of items to focus on. This method can be applied to a large set of items as well.

Thank you for your time!