We’ve broken down the product life cycle and discussed the process and importance of road mapping when developing a new product. If we look back into our previous blog, “Breaking Down the Product Roadmap,” one of the sub-roadmaps we discussed addressed product features and releases, and how evolving and updating features can directly contribute to the success of your product. In fact, feature prioritization is an important aspect of a product manager’s job, and when it’s not done correctly, it can lead to product failure.

In my experience, many of the product management folks I’ve worked with (including myself), tend to look at feature prioritization as a matter of what features provide the most value with the least amount of cost as being the most important features to put at the top of the list. How that is accomplished is open for some debate. There can be a variety of methods and models to use to determine value.  Most importantly value is subjective based on any number of variables particular to you, your organization, customers, stakeholders…etc. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the most common models used to determine how to assess feature value. 

Value vs. Complexity

If the value of features is known, then skip right ahead to the value vs. complexity framework. It is sometimes referred to as value vs. effort and helps a product manager determine how much value each feature or idea will bring to a product and how complex it will be to put together. Each initiative is then plugged into a quadrant to determine it’s level of importance. Any features or initiatives that have a high value and low effort will give a great insight into your prioritization order. 

Here’s ProductPlans Value vs. Complexity quadrant. 

When the value of features is not yet understood, it may help to try a different approach. 

RICE

The RICE model (Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort) is a type of scoring framework used by product managers to help determine how they should prioritize product features within their roadmap. It was developed by Intercom and is an excellent tool for product managers. There are a few significant benefits of utilizing the RICE model: 

  • Provides reasoning to your order of prioritization
  • Decreases personal opinions or biases in the decision-making process
  • Fosters better decision making

RICE scoring requires a product manager to evaluate each potential feature using the formula: 

Reach x Impact x Confidence / Effort

Reach is the first factor in the RICE formula, and it defines who your product will affect within a specific time. So, if the feature is estimated to impact 1000 new consumers by the second quarter, 1000 would be the reach score. Remember, “reach” can be determined by more than one factor. You can base it on how many new customers you’re estimating, or how many existing customers would utilize the new feature. It’s really determined by you and who your target audience is.

Impact refers to an indication of how much a product feature would impact individual consumers. It’s scored from minimal to massive impact as follows:

  • Massive = 3
  • High = 2
  • Medium = 1
  • Low = .5
  • Minimal = .25

Confidence helps you determine the level to which your features or ideas are supported by data, rather than intuition or anecdotal evidence. Similar to the scoring for your impact factor, confidence is scored based on specific percentages:

  • High Confidence = 100%
  • Medium Confidence = 80%
  • Low Confidence = 50%

Effort is the denominator in the RICE formula. It’s an estimate of the time and resources that will be invested in the development of the feature over a given period of time. Generally, this is broken down by “person-months”; who is needed to complete the feature over a specific period of time.

Kano Model 

The Kano Model is broken down by customer delight vs. product function. When the Kano method is used, you’re prioritizing features based on how much they’ll satisfy the customer. Consider an iPhone; features like facial recognition or portrait mode can be prioritized by how likely they are to contribute to the end-users satisfaction. 

To determine this, features are grouped into three different categories:

  • Basic (threshold) features: what the product needs to compete with other products on the market. Features that consumers expect to have and would deem essential.
  • Performance features: what gives a product a potential increase in customer satisfaction. These features aren’t ordinarily standard but have a heavyweight in a customer’s decision. 
  • Excitement features: what increases overall customer delight, but are not necessary or essential. Excitement features are considered to be the attractive add-on’s that will dramatically increase consumer delight and provide a leg up in terms of a competitive market. 

These prioritization frameworks are excellent tools for product managers and their teams to assist in finding the value of specific features, and ultimately, position a product for a successful launch into the market. In our next blog, we’ll cover why product management is a foundational component for startup companies, and how many founders and executives benefit from having a product background.

Dave Silverstein Bio Card