Mastering Feature Prioritization

If you found this podcast useful, attend my NEXT FREE WEBCLASS and transition into a Product Management role!

You know, one decision, seemingly small, has the potential to turn your product into a $1 billion success story or leave it in the dust. Put yourself in this situation: You are a product manager with a brilliant idea but a limited budget and a tight deadline. How do you decide which features to prioritize, ensuring your users are delighted, your team is motivated, and your product succeeds? Welcome to the art and science of feature prioritization, a challenge every product manager must face. In this episode, we will dive deep into why feature prioritization is the secret sauce behind successful products and unveil practical strategies to help you become a prioritization pro.

Hey there, it’s your host, Sachin Sharma, a seasoned product manager with ten years of product management experience. I’ve had the pleasure of guiding over 1,000 aspiring product managers in their journey towards success. With this podcast, I aim to share even more valuable insights on product management to help you excel in your career. If you’re looking to level up your skills and break into a product management role, you are in the right place. So let’s dive into today’s episode without any further delay.

Understanding Feature Prioritization:
So let’s start with understanding what is feature prioritization. Feature prioritization is the process of ranking and organizing features in a product based on their value to customers, their alignment with business goals, the time and cost required, and their technical viability. It’s crucial for product managers as it helps ensure efficient resource utilization, improved customer satisfaction, and the achievement of business goals. Let me illustrate the importance of feature prioritization with an example. Remember Windows 8, which was launched in 2012? It’s often considered a failure. One of the reasons for Windows 8’s failure was Microsoft’s poor decisions about feature prioritization. They focused heavily on touch-based features for tablets, even though most users were still on laptops and desktops. This made Windows 8 less user-friendly for many people and contributed to its lack of success. This is just one example of how poor prioritization can impact a product’s fate. Common consequences of poor prioritization include wasted time and resources, dissatisfied customers, bad reviews, unmet business goals, loss of competitive advantage, and demoralized teams. In short, poor prioritization can have a cascading negative effect on the product and the entire organization.

Key Factors for Feature Prioritization:
What are the key factors to consider when doing feature prioritization? Let me share six factors that I personally consider:

  1. Value to Customer: How important is this feature to the customer? Will it solve a problem for them or make their lives easier?
  2. Business Goals: How does this feature align with the product’s overall goals? Will it help increase sales, improve customer satisfaction, or reduce costs?
  3. Time and Cost: How much time and money will it take to develop this feature?
  4. Technical Viability: Is the feature technically feasible? Can it be delivered within the constraints of the product’s architecture or available resources?
  5. Urgency: Are there features that need to be developed sooner rather than later? For example, critical features may need to be prioritized over others.
  6. Risk: Are there features that are more risky to develop or have a higher chance of failure? Complex or unproven features may need to be prioritized lower.

Popular Prioritization Methods:
Now, let’s dive into some popular methods or frameworks used in the industry for prioritization. Here are four prominent ones:

  1. Value vs. Effort: This is a simple framework that plots features on a graph of value versus effort. Features with high value and low effort are considered top priorities or quick wins, while those with high effort and low value are deprioritized.
  2. RICE Method: RICE stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. This quantitative framework assigns a score to each feature based on these factors. Features with the highest scores are given the highest priority.
  3. MoSCoW Method: This method categorizes features into four groups: Must-haves, Should-haves, Could-haves, and Won’t-haves. Must-haves are essential, while the others have varying degrees of importance.
  4. KANO Model: This qualitative framework divides features into categories like Must-haves, Expected, Delighters, and Indifference. Delighters are features that go beyond customer expectations and create a “wow” experience.

These methods provide structured approaches to feature prioritization, helping product managers make informed decisions.

Handling Conflicts in Prioritization:
Even after implementing these frameworks, conflicts may arise with your team and stakeholders. Here’s how to handle them:

  1. Be transparent about the criteria you use for prioritization. Ensure everyone understands why certain features are prioritized over others.
  2. Listen to others’ perspectives and be willing to compromise to reach a consensus.
  3. Focus on the big picture when conflicts arise. Consider the importance of the product’s success and the risks of not prioritizing certain features.
  4. Be patient and work towards a solution that everyone can agree on. Prioritization conflicts can often be resolved through open communication and collaboration.

Revisiting Priorities:
Defining priorities is not a one-time task. Revisit and adjust priorities over time. As users interact with your product, their needs may change. Business goals may evolve, and the feasibility of features may shift. Keep prioritization an ongoing process to ensure your product remains aligned with your goals.

Tools and Resources:
You might be wondering what tools to use for prioritization. There are various tools available, such as Prodboard, Air Focus, Pivotal Tracker, or even simple spreadsheets like Google Sheets. Additionally, consider reading books like “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, “Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love” by Marty Cagan, or “Prioritizing Web Usability” by Jakob Nielsen to deepen your knowledge.

And that brings me to the end of this insightful journey through the world of feature prioritization. I hope you’ve gained valuable insights into why prioritization is crucial for product managers. Remember, prioritization is not just a task; it’s an art. It’s about making tough decisions that shape the future of your project. Before you go, I want to remind you that you can be part of my community, where I will teach you product management skills and how to break into a product management role. Join my upcoming free web class on You can also find the link in the podcast description. Take action, and let me help you even more inside my community.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *