header image - 17 Criteria To Help You Ruthlessly Prioritize Your Feature List

17 Criteria To Help You Ruthlessly Prioritize Your Feature List

There are so many prioritization methods out there that figuring out what system is best for you can be overwhelming. Should you use RICE? Kano? Priority poker? Ah!!

While these existing strategies are great, there is another option out there for you. You can create your own system customized and weighted to your own organization’s needs.

I’ve created a list of all the artsy and science-y ways you can rank and prioritize features and items on your new, customcreated list.

To get started, pick a 1-3 from each category (art and science — since prioritization is a mix of both). The lines between “art” and “science” can be blurred depending on what kind of data you’re collecting, so don’t go too hard on me for putting something in a category you may not agree with. You can adjust as you’d prefer.

Add those as column headers on a spreadsheet.

Then give each category a weight. How you weight and measure each one depends on you, but reading up on scorecards is a great place to start figuring that out.

Throw all your priorities in the sheet, fill in values for the categories you picked, and calculate your score (I trust that if you’re a PM, you’re smart enough to figure the calculation part out).

Here’s the list. I hope all of them inspire some ruthless prioritization sessions in your future 😉

Product Prioritization Categories

A little bit of art (i.e things we’re using qualitative data or anecdotal evidence for)

  • Reach
    • How many people do we think will use this feature?
  • User impact
    • Will this have a huge impact on users? Average impact? Will they barely notice?
  • Business Impact
    • How large of an impact will this have on the future of the business? Will it move the business forward?
  • Customer demand
    • Are customers crying out for this? Is it more like a whimper? Or is it nothing (and maybe just something an exec thinks would be cool)?
  • Customer importance: customer satisfaction
    • Is this a feature that is important to your customer? If so, how satisfied are they with it? If it’s important but they’re not satisfied, it may be a higher priority than one that’s not important and they’re satisfied with.
  • Value
    • Will this feature add a lot of value to the product? Or is it less valuable but maybe still needs to be done? Is it a bug effecting user experience you just need to squash already?
  • Alignment with business direction/strategy
    • Would this feature help us get where we want the business to go?
  • Confidence
    • How confident are we in our estimates?

A little bit of science (i.e things we are sure of and/or have data on)

  • Revenue (new, incremental, retained, savings)
    • Will this help us make more money or save more money?
  • Time Criticality
    • Is this needed right now? Soon? Not for a while?
  • Development effort
    • About how many engineering resources will it take to develop this feature? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months?
  • Internal vs external
    • Is this something our internal or external users need? Are we balancing the two?
  • Feature type
    • Is this a basic user need? Power user need? A feature that adds delightfulness to the experience?
  • Complexity
    • Would this be tough to pull off? Average? Easy?
  • Risk
    • How risky is this? Are we sure that this is something people will use?
  • Cost
    • How much money/resources will it take to develop this feature?
  • “Price”
    • When using the “buy a feature” prioritization method where everyone has the same amount of money to “spend” on a feature, how much would people be willing to pay for it.

A Note on Comparing Apples to Apples

It’s important that when you’re adding category measurements that you are consistent. For example, if you’re using a quantitative measure for development effort and mix weeks and months, you’re gonna have a bad time. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

Also, if you’re going to be throwing these all into a spreadsheet, things that are categorical (for example, high, medium, low) also need to have a quantitative value to calculate a score. You could try something like the following scale:

  • 3 = massive
  • 2 = high
  • 1 = medium
  • .5 = low
  • .25 = minimal

However you decide to prioritize features, you’ll be glad you took the time to dig into analyzing each one. You may be surprised what pops up to the top. Good luck!

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