Every new feature or product your team works on is an opportunity cost for the company. As a product manager, it is absolutely critical that you fully understand your customer needs and establish a prioritization process to identify what your team should be working on next. Without proper prioritization, your team could waste many months of time and cash building the wrong thing.
During the product manager interview, you will often get a question revolving around how you think about prioritization. There are several different approaches and preferences here but here is one we recommend:
1) Start by thinking about the OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) you want to be influencing.
Chances are, your company will probably have a broader set of OKRs that they will want to focus on at any given time. You’ll want to first think at a high level which OKR makes the most sense for your product at it’s current stage in its lifecycle. For example, perhaps your current OKR is around moving specific metrics – i.e. for a newly released consumer app, you may be focused on customer acquisition or for a product that has plenty of traffic but a lack of monetization, you may want to focus on conversion.
2) Identify lists of product ideas for your highest priority OKRs.
Now that you’ve chosen your highest priority OKRs to focus on, list out product ideas that fit under each of these OKR buckets. Chances are, you’ll already have a list of product feature ideas from your own team, anyone in the company, feedback from customers through support tickets, analysis of existing data, etc…
3) Create prioritization criteria
With your list of ideas, you’ll need to think about the criteria with which you’re going to evaluate these ideas on each list. Some commonly used criteria are impact (how impactful is this feature going to be for the corresponding OKR?), urgency (how urgent is it for you to be building this feature now vs. later?), and cost (how long will it take the engineering team to build this feature?).
4) Assess your ideas
Now that you’ve created prioritization criteria that you’re going to use, you can quantitatively assess each one of your ideas. For simplicity sake, you may want to use a scale of 1-5 (i.e. for impact, 5 would be highly impactful, and for cost, 5 would mean the idea is very quick to build) to assess each idea. You can then tally up all scores to create a total score for each idea in a list. Sorting that list by total score will provide a prioritized list of ideas for your team to consider working on.
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