Prioritizing Your Product’s Features – Dos And Don’ts
“Is this a must-have?”
“That one is good to have.”
“Is this functional or just a visual aid?”
As project managers, this is just one of the many conversations that you may have when it comes to deciding on the features for your product. Given the numerous options and limited resources, feature prioritization is inevitable. As you continue reading, you will find the non-negotiable dos and don’ts of this process.
Place your features into themes
You need to start by categorizing all your current features and future feature requests. This can be done with the help of ‘themes’. These themes can be established or you can make use of the existing vision, growth plans of your product, product’s current roadmap, or even time-bound milestones.
For instance- for deciding on the product features, there are communication channels, engagement, integrations available, user flow, etc. Time-sensitive milestones can be like increasing our newsletter subscribers by x% by the next quarter or reducing the churn rate by a certain percentage.
Asking questions related to a feature’s implementation
Saying yes or no to a feature that can aid in your growth plans is a tough call. But you can start by asking the right questions that will back you and your team’s reasoning, like:
- Can the proposed feature’s functionality be fulfilled with existing features, or with some minor tweaks?
- How much effort, time, and cost will be needed for development and implementation?
- How good is the ROI?
- Will it be vital in attracting new customers?
- How will it help the current customers?
- How many customers will benefit from it (an approx estimate)?
- What will be the usage frequency?
- Do your competitors have the said feature? How is it working out for them? Is there any data available for the same?
- If the feature is unique, how will you educate your users for its utility?
The list may look a little long, but it will give you enough information to back your final decision.
Collaborate and bring all ideas to the table
Collaboration is important for ideation and bringing out something unique from a mixed bag of ideas. Therefore, it’s vital that you talk to all stakeholders, and encourage maximum participation. You can ask your teams to answer a common set of questions (like the ones mentioned above).
This gives everyone a fair chance to validate their suggestions and their implementation. Have open discussions about shortlisted features and brainstorm with other team members about the execution. As a project manager, you are the center point of interaction among teams and you can facilitate communications regarding your product with ease.
Get feedback from your customers on the selected features
Your existing group of customers and their feedback is a great way for understanding their needs. You can ask users to volunteer for testing your features and get their first-hand reactions to them. One can also go for focus groups, in case you are just starting.
All the responses can then be cross verified with assumptions and expected results. If possible, you can also give some incentive to your users to sign up for the trial runs and be a part of the beta testing group.
All the points mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg, we know a lot goes into feature prioritization.
Thanks to our wide experience, we also believe in what should not be a deciding factor of this process, here are the absolute don’ts:
Heavy reliance on gut feelings
You and your team’s “gut feeling” can not be in the driver’s seat of feature prioritization. Like said earlier, there must be a good support for passing on or implementing any feature. No one wants to retract features after it goes live, it’s a lot of unnecessary workloads which can be avoided.
Ad hoc requests implementation
Once in a while, urgent implementation of features is understandable, but it should not be a habit. This goes for all requests, internal ones, short-lived inspiration from competitors, and even customer requests. And this should not be seen as a barrier to creativity. You need to ensure all your teams understand this. We suggest that take the time to ascertain the viability and feasibility of a feature before you dive into the execution.
Prioritizing many options
Prioritize a limited number of features. And this does not imply that you are refusing all others, make sure that you keep revisiting old requests. Focus on the bigger features, but ensure that the smaller iterations are also taken into consideration from time to time.
Doing internal/ external evaluation only
This may seem obvious but always gather internal and external feedback, especially for major feature rollouts. Relying on just one at any point in time can backfire, so try to take a holistic decision and get inputs from a majority of stakeholders.
As pointed earlier, these dos and don’ts are ones that you can not go without. Planning your features takes a lot of effort and to stay ahead of your competitors and in your user’s mind, some extra thoughts will not go waste. While no one can guarantee a 100% success rate of all the new features, going by the experts’ advice can help you in being a step closer to your organization’s goals. Get in touch with us for more discussions about your product and its features.
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