No matter how small your business is, you more than likely have different members of your team working on various aspects of your product growth. A typical organization can include departments such as customer support, sales, marketing, and development all of which are there for one reason, grow the business by building a better product. From this perspective, as a product manager, you are surrounded by resources who see opportunities to grow the business by making changes to the product that they perceive is critical to success. This can create a political nightmare for a product manager as you are being pulled in different directions, competing priorities and trying to balance your teams vision of the product against your own and that in which your customers have communicated. As a result, this can lead many product managers looking to find how to prioritize features across an organization successfully.
As a product manager, if you need to prioritize features across an organization for your product roadmap, here are the top tips we recommend to ensure when it comes to define your product roadmap, everyone is on the same page for what is selected and why some feature requests are not.
How to prioritize features across an organization:
1. Start with defining clear product objectives: Sit down with all of your departments and come up with an agreement at a high level on why your product exists. What drives your business? What are your goals as an organization? This should be not an instructor led setting but a collaborative brain storming session where your organizational leads lay out there understanding including your leadership teams on what you need to accomplish with your product and your business. Lay out all product objectives on a white board as they come up.
2. Define Weights for your objectives: When you try to prioritize features across an organization, start with an understanding that not all objectives are equal. For example, features that drive revenue would most likely get a higher score than perhaps those decrease support tickets which ultimately may help reduce cost. However based on your business, perhaps expense is a driver more than revenue. This is why it is important to start with laying out what drives your business and then compare all of the objectives against each other and define the weights for each objective. For example, if a new product feature is suggested, and the feature can resolve an on boarding issue which should result in higher conversion, it would get a set score since it aligns with that objective. Some product features could satisfy multiple product objectives and therefore can get higher scores adding up all the objectives it accomplishes.
3. Apply the objectives to product features: Once you have reached buy in from your organization it is time to align the product features with the stated objectives. This should be a takeaway that each organization does for the product features they feel are important. Each organization should be able to state the product feature name, description, objectives it expects to satisfy and expected outcome of the feature. Give your organization leads time to work on this and schedule a product roadmap review session.
4. Prioritize features across an organization: Go around the room again and have the organizations prioritize their own list of features based on the scoring model of weighting those features that meet the most of your business needs to the top and present them. The features presented with the corresponding weights from each department go to a single list sorted by priority of the objectives they accomplish. By default, this will make the most impactful product features at the top and give you a working order to start looking at for your product roadmap.
One of the benefits of this approach to prioritize features across an organization is that it removes politics or personal feelings. This makes product management and product planning black and white as far as what makes it to your product roadmap. The items that make the most impact to your business come to the top regardless of who suggested it or needs it. Simply, if it grow the business the most, then you should be working on it or adding it to the queue.
With that being said, always remember that as product manager, your team and organizational feedback on product features is only one third of the full vision. You need to take into consideration their list of prioritized product features but also go through the same exercise with customer driven features and feedback and your own vision for where you see the product going in order to solve the pain points that you are there to solve. Once you have all of product feature suggestions you can align them and prioritize features across an organization, customer base and strategic vision to ensure during product planning, you are defining the most impactful product roadmap possible.