Feature Prioritization 101

Feature Prioritization 101One of the most important responsibilities of a product manager is feature prioritization. What is feature prioritization? Our last post covered story prioritization using sizing and estimation – in this post we’ll zoom back out to the product roadmap, and start with the company itself.

Feature prioritization is planning out the order of features your team works on, based on your product roadmap. It’s important to prioritize features because you have limited time and money and too many potential features. Sitting down and figuring out which features to work on and at what point of your schedule is absolutely necessary to prevent delays and a poorly executed product.

There are many ways to approach feature prioritization, but regardless of approach, keep this piece of advice in mind: Product managers should prioritize features based on the overall product strategy. In other words, don’t lose sight of the goal! If your product is meant to solve the problem of providing online educational opportunities to low-income students, it makes sense that all features you vet should match that product strategy.

Product managers are constantly hearing feature requests from all kinds of stakeholders and also keeping a close eye on the competition. One potential danger is that the product manager begins to listen to the loudest stakeholder or focuses only on matching competitors’ features. In both cases the PM loses sight of the product strategy and risks releasing a sub-par product.

Another important thing to consider with feature prioritization is that it’s not set in stone. As you begin building the product and gathering customer insights from tests or interviews, there may be instances where it makes more sense to pivot from the initial product strategy. The key is that your strategy is always defined so you know what to prioritize at any point in time.

This post is just an introduction to feature prioritization. If you’re curious about specific examples, check out this well-documented Quora post on best ways to prioritize a list of product features. And if you have any questions about feature prioritization, head on over to Slack to chat with the PMHQ community!


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