Prioritization techniques in product management

Tram Ho

Setting the priority of the product backlog is one of the top concerns of the Product Manager, because the resources the development team has is always less than the features expected by stakeholders, and the responsibility of the Product Manager is to prioritize features based on the value they bring to users & organizations. In a long list of features to develop, the Product Manager must decide which requirements will be prioritized for development first, which ones need to focus resources to market as soon as possible, which ones. have low priority & be developed later, etc.

There are many methods of prioritizing product backlogs. Depending on the characteristics of the product, the development team, the development stage of the product, etc., the Product Manager chooses the method for its product. This article will share about some methods of prioritizing, & notes when selecting methods

1. Quantitative method & based on external factors (External & Quantitative techniques) – The Kano Model

The Kano Model method evaluates the priority of a function based on user satisfaction with the feature. Kano Model assesses each feature on two Satisfaction criteria: user satisfaction Functionality : complexity, cost to develop features

When applying Kano Model, the Product Manager usually conducts user surveys. For each feature, users will answer 2 questions:

  • Satisfaction level if this function is developed
  • Satisfaction level if this function is not developed

Based on user responses, the features are classified into 4 categories:

  • Performance : features that increase the level of satisfaction if developed
  • Must-be : features that the user considers minimal, if any does not help increase the level of satisfaction, but otherwise there will be disappointing
  • Attractive : the features are outside the user’s requirements, if not without disappointing, if any, will help increase the level of satisfaction greatly
  • Indifferent : whether or not the features affect user satisfaction

Typically, the features will be arranged in the following priority order: Must-Be> Performance> Attractive> Indifferent.

2. Qualitative method & based on external factors (External & Qualitative techniques) – Story Mapping

Story Mapping is one of the most common methods used by Product Manager. Story Mapping is a graph of 2 lines

  • Usage sequence : a horizontal line, the user stories are arranged in the order performed by the user
  • Criticality : is a vertical line, the user stories are ranked from top to bottom based on importance level. Stories of the same level of importance are lined up

Stories related to the same activity can be grouped into “Activities.”
To select user stories for each release, the Product Manager draws a horizontal line, gathering stories of the same importance for the same release. The disadvantage of this method is that it is difficult to use in the context of constantly changing market & product, when the Product Manager cannot have a long-term vision for the product.

3. Quantitative & based on internal organization (Internal & Quantitative techniques) – Financial Analysis

Developing new products or projects in an enterprise often comes from the purpose of increasing sales or reducing costs. Therefore, in many cases, the priority arrangement will be based on the economic value of the function / project. There are 4 types of financial goals that we often meet:

  • New revenue : generate revenue
  • Incremental revenue : increase revenue by making existing users spend more
  • Retained revenue : increase revenue by retaining existing users
  • Cost savings : reduce operating costs

Depending on the financial goals the company is aiming at, the Product Manager prioritizes the functionality. Some other financial indicators are often analyzed when using this method: Net Present Value (NPV), Internal Rate of Return (IRR), Discounted Payback Period, etc.

4. Qualitative methods & based on internal factors (Internal & Qualitative techniques) – Systemico Model

With the view of “do less [of what doesn’t matter], deliver more [of what does]”, the Systemico Model method is user-focused, the development must be towards creating value for users, help users achieve their goals when using the (user’s goal) product, and eliminate redundant feature requirements, providing little value. Traditional method of analyzing & designing an application is usually application-centric, which means determining what the application will look like, how it works, and the user will interact with the application. how to use it. The Systemico Model approach takes a different direction, going from determining why we need to build this application, the goals that users need to achieve when using the application, thereby determining whether we will How to build the application. In order to do this, the Product Manager needs to identify user’s goal, the features that are valuable & that need to be prioritized are the features that help users achieve user’s goals. After determining the features to develop, Product Manager will divide these features into 4 categories, based on the level of user interaction with each feature (engagement).

  • Core : the features serve the most basic needs of users. These are features that users consider to be the minimum and required standards. For example, the login and logout functions.
  • Use : is the feature to enhance user experience, without these features the product only has minimal appeal to users. For example, showing a product listing on an ecommerce site
  • Engage : are features that attract users, making users come back and use the product more often. For example, product reviews
  • Explore : are features that help increase the attractiveness of the product, making users want to learn more about the product than the initial interaction. For example, related product suggestions

For new development products, the first release may include only Core features. After the first release, the development team will get feedback from real users, thereby confirming the accuracy of the original user’s goal / engagement, editing the feature list, & rearranging the order of priority. first for the next release.

In short, the key concept of the Systemico Model is: The sooner you release the product, the sooner the user feedback will be, the sooner you will have the opportunity to improve the product.

5. Factors influencing the choice of the method of prioritization

Methods based on external factors are appropriate when

  • The Product Manager needs a high-level assessment of a large list of possible developmental functions
  • The Product Manager wants to explore and explore real user needs, thereby creating product backlogs, especially with new products, in the process of building ideas.
  • The Product Manager is more interested in what the outcome is, rather than how it is done & how it costs-sales.
  • The Product Manager wants the participation of other stakeholders in shaping the product, & reaches the stakeholder consensus for the priority of the backlog.

Methods based on internal techniques are appropriate when

  • A more detailed assessment of the functions identified from external techniques
  • Priority arrangement for an agreed product backlog from stakeholder is appropriate for the needs of users & organizations
  • The project / product develops internally, or does not need to pay much attention to market factors
  • Priority should be arranged between low-priority functions

6. It is with the product development team, so outsourcing projects are prioritizing?

Usually, the outsourcing project team has little contact with the market & real users. Product backlogs in outsourcing projects are usually backlogs that have been given high-level priority by customers. Factors to be considered are often: costs, resources, risks. Therefore, outsource projects often apply internal techniques, two methods that are used quite often are Value vs Risk, Value vs Cost.

7. Keynote

Don’t prioritize user needs over business needs. While user needs are incredibly important, they won’t matter if they don’t end up driving business. ”- Drew Davidson

  • It is difficult to immediately determine which method is suitable for which product. A Product Manager can try to use many methods until the best method is selected, or even use a combination of methods for the same product.
  • Priority arrangements don’t just happen once. Priority must be regularly re-evaluated after each release, each time receiving feedback from customers, & adjusting to ensure the most valuable features are always prioritized.
  • Prioritizing is not your responsibility Product Manager. Feedback from users, expertise from the development team or other stakeholder are all valuable sources of information for Product Manager to consider.
  • There should be a balance between quantitative & qualitative methods. Although the quantitative results seem more convincing, the facts are still estimates, and do not reflect all information.
  • Do not place user expectations above business needs. Because, after all, the purpose of a product is to achieve a business goal; Satisfying user needs would be pointless if it did not help the organization achieve its business goals

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