Product prioritization is one of the most critical aspects of product management.
The conflict arises when customers’ demands are not compatible with the product development timeline.
This blog post will explore prioritizing customer opinions on your roadmap before you begin.
Risk v/s Impact
You should first understand the product prioritization process to prioritize customer ideas on your roadmap.
There are various models to follow while prioritizing, but they all come down to two organizational factors: Risk and Impact.
Risk is the potential to affect business success; it can be financial or strategic.
Impact refers to how much a particular issue or feature affects users.
A good roadmap is a practical balance between risk and impact.
A well-thought-of roadmap should include goals achievable in the next 12-18 months, reducing the risk of wasting resources.
This inclusion of short-term goals also gives you time post achievement to reassess and rework any feature or issue.
Additionally, while assessing the impact of a particular task or feature, it is crucial to see how it aligns with the overall business objective. Sometimes, a high-demand feature may be incompatible with your organizational goals.
Thus, a practical roadmap would include high-impact features compatible with your business objectives. This way, all teams working on the product are in agreement too.
Now, once you have found a balance between risk and impact, you can begin placing your customer’s ideas onto your product roadmap. Yet, not all would make the cut, and some have to be discarded, while some prioritized.
So how do you prioritize your customer’s ideas?
How to Prioritize Customer Ideas?
Ideas compete for a fixed amount of time and money, so you must proceed carefully. At the same time, you can’t afford to be caught in analysis paralysis.
As a result, making a chart or a scorecard for priority ranking is a good idea to direct your efforts on the most important things.
Consider the positive impact of a feature relevant to your roadmap in one column. Consider the level of uncertainty in defining a feature or how you may implement it in the second column.
As the product team, you can now plot or rank your list based on one of the following categories:
- Take It.
- Wait It.
- Ditch It.
- Research It.
Here’s how you’ll know in which category a particular item fits.
These product developments are essential and have measurable benefits, and they are apparent problems or potential opportunities that may be explored and used to our advantage.
These features are well understood, with obvious benefits, and their worth to the product line and company is evident.
You may also assess these items with minimal risk and more significant impact. You definitely ‘Take’ these items or features with positive axes.
High-value products are classified here. On the other hand, your product team isn’t clear how to implement the feature. That vagueness might be due to technical or business uncertainty.
This condition may require further examination before being promoted to the “Take It” quadrant.
These features are potential contestants for your next launch. You solve the team conflict and ‘wait’ it out until then.
Sometimes, you may understand the popularity of a request, but your team may feel that it provides little or no value. In this scenario, the request should go in the “Ditch it” quadrant.
The goal is to keep track of these features and explain why you rejected them.
You’ll avoid rehashing your analysis if you remember to note when and why. A high-demand but low-impact feature is an evident high-risk item. With no further ado, ditch it.
What if some feature requests are still ambiguous, and you don’t completely understand them? Make time to analyze it further.
Once you’ve ‘researched’ them deeper, some would very quickly land up in the ‘ditch it’ folder.
However, after more research, you may discover that some items are pretty helpful — and will land in the “take it” quadrant.
Now, with this graph of quadrants, you should be able to put your most viable customer ideas at the forefront. However, when you disclose the chosen items, make sure your team isn’t unaware of how that came to be.
As much as prioritizing ideas is essential for a successful product roadmap, so is the process or framework of prioritization.
Your selection framework must pass specific criteria to be effective and foolproof.
Effective Prioritization Framework
Different product teams have other mechanisms for evaluating feature requests. Regardless of which method you use, your should develop your framework with:
Prioritization should be as transparent as possible. Not everyone in the company has the authority to choose which features make the cut.
Teams must know how ideas make it through. Thus, they will believe in its result if they understand its determination.
Before you begin putting together a list of new product features, it’s critical to establish the foundation for selecting ideas.
This foundation eliminates the danger of incorporating a bias towards items that support what the product team desires.
The prioritization of new features should be simple for your organization to communicate about.
The advantage of sharing this knowledge with all product team members is that it establishes trust and salesmanship.
It ensures that you prepare your teams with information regarding why you prioritize features to respond promptly when new or existing members have questions.
Your decision framework should link with and complement your overall business goals and other product development priorities on the roadmap.
It should explain the causal relationship between the chosen features and their impact and their alignment with your product strategy.
Only shortsighted fools ignore customer feedback and requests in this ‘customer is king‘ era.
User research and data collection are the cornerstones of product development and management.
As a product manager or owner, you must make efforts in this direction without fail.
As product managers, we are in charge of developing solutions that positively affect business.
As a result, it is of central importance to integrate data-driven prioritization methods with your company’s strategy.
Boiling down the best-fitting customer ideas with your business goals, in the beginning, helps this process.
It dissolves the friction from teams who believe their efforts are focused on personal rather than long-term goals.