You want to know the best way to prioritise features — Here’s 11 considerations

Andy Fox
Andy Fox
Aug 4, 2015 · 3 min read

It’s the question on your mind…

How do I prioritise and work out the most valuable thing to do next?

There’s a boatload of approaches and methods you can use to help you decide the best thing to spend time on. Just take a look a the Quora question — What are the best ways to prioritize a list of product features? …with some 166,000 views, 2,100 followers and 60 answers!

Approaches to prioritisation

I’m not going to go into detail about the different methods for prioritisation here. Mainly because as you’ll see from the Quora question everyone has a different opinion on the ‘best’ way.

What I will say is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to prioritisation.

Here’s three basic methods

  • JFDI (Just fu*king Do It) — No thought is put in, just work on whatever comes along.
  • Use previous experience — Some thought goes into it, largely based on gut feel.
  • Scored decision matrix or system view — Attempt to make things more objective and provide some way of analysing and assessing priorities in order to mitigate risk.

It’s likely you’ll want to use a mix depending on what stage your product is at. For example, an early stage startup, is likely to have very different set of criteria when it comes to prioritising compared to a mature product.

Regardless of which method you use, the following considerations may be useful. I wouldn’t recommend trying to apply them all. Save yourself the hassle and pick and choose what’s important at the time for a lightweight approach.

11 prioritisation considerations

  1. Impact: How much will it benefit customers (and users). How much will it benefit the business?
    Depth: How much does it matter to users? Ultimately how happy does it make people? Is it a pain killer or vitamin? i.e. is it something that people really need, or is it something that’s nice to have. Will it have functional, emotional and/or social impact? What’s important in this case? How often will it be used? And how much time will people spend using it
    Breadth: How many people will it benefit? How often will they use it
  2. Opportunity: Is it likely to open up possibilities e.g. in market?
  3. Difficulty: How much effort/time/cost it will involve to deliver?
  4. Certainty: How confident is the team about implementing it?
  5. Capacity: Do we have enough people to get it delivered?
  6. Strategy fit: How well does it align to the long term objectives / direction and vision?
  7. Time: When will it deliver value?
  8. Acquisition: Will it help bring in new customers?
  9. Retention: Will it help deepen relationship with existing customers?
  10. Conversion: Will it help convert customers?
  11. Product ‘account’: Will it increase or decrease tech or design debt?Through the lens of software production, software is a liability not an asset. Note: I’m not sure if there is an official term for this, so I made it up? :)

What criteria do you use?

This list is work in progress (isn’t everything?).

Post me a comment and let me know.

Originally published at

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade