Ultimate guide to product prioritization

How to prioritize features and build successful products?

  1. If you are wondering why to prioritize features you can probably start from here.
  2. If you think this article is too long you can start from the “Commonalities among processes” section below.

How does it generally work?

Feature Prioritization Methodologies

Chosen ideas from Quora

  1. You can start with identifying themes that are most important for your product (or business when you look at sales and marketing priorities) → Sequence those themes → Generate ideas within themes → Estimate time and cost → Prioritize projects within themes that have high impact and low cost to build. This process advocated by Ian, from Amazon, is the most widely accepted or up-voted one.
  2. Answer these questions: What is the core objective of the product?, Whether the feature should reach more businesses or deepen relationship with existing users? Whether feature will take your product to next level or just expand your feature list? Your answers to these questions would guide you to make informed decisions.
  3. Draw a matrix based on following factors: Technical feasibility, Resources availability, Customer need, business impact and time to market. Developing the business impact value and customer need value as heatmaps will fetch a matrix that will let you pick your priorities.
  4. Just apply this formula on each of your feature idea and pick the ones with high score (Revenue growth*Customer happiness*development effort) = Feature priority
  5. Ask yourself and learn: What customers want? what your company is good at? what your competitors are weak at?
  6. Figure out your value proposition, generate your questions and assumptions, build an MVP, test, measure, learn and pivot.
  7. Score on parameters including: Cost to build, time to market, competitive advantage and opportunity. Evaluate if the idea is strategic or tactical, if it is a validated and scalable idea and if a framework exists for development. Based on the total score against each of the above factors pick your features.
  8. Start with the customer and work backwards: This method used at Amazon is interesting and could work wonders for B2C products that heavily rely on PR and mass marketing for lead generation. You start with Customer problem and solution and draft the PR newsletter, FAQ, customer experience and user manual and thereby you confirm a feature and its detailed requirements.

Process Frameworks that can be adopted to drive your roadmap:

  1. The Kano model: Draw a two dimensional grid with the horizontal axis representing the organization’s investment made and the vertical axis representing the user satisfaction.

How you could prioritize using a Product Management Software?

  1. Prodpad: The tool advocates identification of features that will have greatest impact with less effort.

Commonalities among different approaches

  1. Score based model: It is up to you to identify relevant scoring parameters (most prominent ones are listed above including customer need, opportunity, cost, time, effort, etc.). By picking your personalized scoring system you can identify the features you want to build. My personal recommendation here is to choose a wider range of scoring scale (Eg: 1-10) so you can clearly differentiate the impact of important features from the rest. A low range score (Eg: 1-3) might mislead you since a feature with low-medium impact might overweigh a high impact feature due to the effort it might take.
  2. Iterative process: In an iterative process you develop a hypothesis based on your understanding of customer problem, come up with a solution, draft detailed requirements (can be collaborative for better results, but keep time as a constraint). Now draw or develop a mockup and discuss with one or two relevant customers. Fine tune the mockup and build an MVP for use among selective group of customers. Gather another round of customer feedback and fine tune the features further. This technique is the best technique for any kind of business if you could execute it at a fast pace. Else the time to come up a working feature would cost heavily on your resources. One of the key challenge you might face while adopting such a technique is not finding enough or any customer to work with. That will force you to choose the following option.
  3. Intuitive approach: Based on your own experience you come up with a problem statement, that you think many others would have and would be willing to pay for a solution. Here you do not normally talk to any of your customer until you have the first working version of the product ready. There are still a lot of startup founders who develop features using this methodology by betting heavily on their investment. People like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg are clearly known to have followed such a technique.

Other factors to consider

Nature of business and business model



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Vijay Balachandran

Product monk for life / Believe in numbers and asking questions / Crave for simplicity and sustainability in design / Strive to be sensible and relevant