What aspects does a product manager consider when prioritizing features?
April 15, 2019
April 15, 2019
The primary responsibility of a product manager is to prioritize features for the product roadmap that will make the largest impact to the business. The actual process of prioritizing features for a product roadmap can vary as does all of the various considerations that come into play when trying to figure out if a feature should make it to the roadmap or not. Typically there are a few different areas that you would take into account as a product manager when a feature is brought to you that you would consider when trying to define the value of the feature within the roadmap.
At a high level, all features need to go under the same question which is whether the feature will help progress the product towards a goal or objective and will the level of investment to accomplish that progress be worth it. When considering this question, here are some of the specific factors that a product manager needs to consider when prioritizing a feature in their backlog.
For consideration of resources and investment (AKA Effort):
- How much work will the team need to complete?
- Can one team run the feature or does it require support from many teams? Does it require partners or outside assistance? What is the capacity of the other teams that will need to be available to help?
- Once live, what additional maintenance does the feature add to the product team? Is the change scalable or will there be a lot of manual work to do with the feature? Does it create a normal upkeep for the development team to manage?
- How much upfront work is needed before being able to dive into the feature? Do we need additional hardware or licenses to complete the feature?
For consideration of progress toward your goals and objectives (AKA Impact):
- If your feature is associated with one of your key business levers, what is the expected outcome of the feature? How much revenue or user adoption?
- How much does the feature solve one of your customer pain points? How many people does this impact? Does it solve the problem for the user or only part of the problem?
- Are there other features you could be working on that would help more than this feature?
- What happens if you do not do this feature? Does something not happen or is there a cost to not working on the feature?
In general these are good questions to ask when you are completing your feature prioritization to validate where you place the feature in your backlog compared against the other features you are tracking. Additionally, at a higher level there are 3 main areas to try and look at when placing your feature which can help ensure you are promoting the most important features to your product roadmap. Typically these three buckets help organize and prioritize features at a high level.
- Blockers. This would be anything in your way as a product manager to growing your business. If you have a feature that clears the blocker, it should be a top priority. Think your conversion would go up if you did X. Not doing X is your blocker, figure it out and prioritize those.
- Tactical Needs. There is always lights on work you need to do to keep the product moving, customers happy and keeping up with the world around us. You need to do these to keep conversions happening and churn from occurring. Outside of a blocker, these are your next priorities.
- Strategic Needs. This is how you accomplish your long term vision which is how you accomplish your five year vision of the product. You want to move these forward but not at the price of a feature in bucket one or bucket two.
In general there are many ways to prioritize but these are great factors for product managers to consider when trying to decide where to place any new feature in their backlog to ensure they keep the product growing as long as they are at the helm.