What Are The Key Product Prioritization Frameworks?
Have a hard time choosing between product prioritization frameworks?
As a product manager, deciding how to spend your time and resources can be difficult, especially as you are bombarded with meetings, feature requests, new customer data, shifting objectives, and more.
You need a way to sift through these details and choose the ideas that will lead to the best customer and business outcomes.
Luckily, product prioritization frameworks exist for just that.
Why use a product prioritization framework?
Before diving into the frameworks, let’s explain why many of these frameworks exist in the first place.
Product teams need to prioritize their features based on what will have the greatest business impact. They need to justify those decisions and tradeoffs in a way that transcends subjective and gut decisions and speaks to stakeholders and execs in a meaningful way.
ROI used to be the de-facto solution, but it’s rife with challenges. The problem is that ROI relates to the financial impact of a particular initiative and can’t accurately measure the impact of a specific feature.
For example, did it help to increase product adoption?
ROI struggles to attribute product features to business impact. If it does, it happens too slowly for the fast-paced agile environment that product teams operate in, meaning that the results gained can’t help you to prioritize the next iteration.
Plus, this approach has other drawbacks, forcing teams to shy away from risk-taking and innovation.
Investing in an existing product or channel will provide a more predictable ROI than new and unproven products, stifling experimentation and testing within product teams.
What are the key product prioritization frameworks?
Here are four key frameworks that help product teams prioritize initiatives and features:
- The RICE framework
- The MoSCow method
- The Kano model
- MoAR-Metrics over Available Resources
Let’s see which one is best for you.
Product prioritization framework #1: RICE
The RICE model (Reach, Impact, Confidence, Effort) is a prioritization framework to determine what should go on a product roadmap.
The model is a scoring system that was initially developed by Intercom to help with their internal decision-making and has since been adopted by several other product teams.
RICE score = (Reach x Impact x Confidence) / Effort
Let’s take a look at the components.
How many people will an initiative reach in a certain period of time? The decision on what will be considered reach and the length of time is up to you.
How much will this impact each person? You could use a scale of 1-5, 1 being no impact, 5 being massive impact.
Confidence comes down to assumptions. How likely is this idea to achieve the Reach or Impact you’re searching for?
Sometimes data isn’t available to determine reach or impact, which can be accounted for with Confidence. You can keep this score simple, choosing between three values:
- High = 100%
- Medium = 80%
- Low = 50%
Reach, Impact, and Confidence are benefit factors while Effort factors cost.
This includes the value of human resources needed over a certain period and is typically measured in person, through weeks or months.
Putting it all together, after assigning values for each component, plug them into this equation: (Reach x Impact X Confidence)/ Effort.
A higher RICE score means greater benefit given the estimated effort.
Product prioritization framework #2: MoSCoW
MoSCoW, which stands for “Must-Have,” “Should-Have,” Could-Have,” and “Won’t-Have” (at least not in the short term) or “Wish-to-Have,” is a prioritization model for managing requirements.
Developed by Dai Clegg when he was at Oracle, it enables teams to prioritize time-based projects.
In order to implement this framework, the product team and stakeholders must first be clear on objectives and prioritization factors. There should also be a way to handle disagreements that occur when categorizing features or initiatives.
Mandatory initiatives that must be worked on.
Important initiatives that aren’t critical but that would be valuable if implemented.
Ideal initiatives that would be nice to have but aren’t necessary.
Non-priorities that sometimes get included in projects but need to be left for potential future projects as they could lead to scope creep.
Product prioritization framework #3: Kano
The Kano model is a product prioritization framework used to prioritize features based on how well they might satisfy customers.
It weighs the costs of the initiatives against how satisfied customers may be after they are implemented.
Dr. Noriaki Kano developed the model in Tokyo, and it relies on five categories: Basic, Excitement, Performance, Indifferent, Dissatisfaction.
These are the fundamental features of your product. A customer won’t even think to ask for them; they simply expect them to be there.
These features provide the “wow factor” for customers.
These features can help to satisfy your customers and garner their attention and appreciation, especially as they aren’t always expected.
These features are neither here nor there for your customers, meaning they won’t have a strong preference in either direction.
These features can lead to a decrease in customer satisfaction.
Product prioritization framework #4: MoAR
MoAR, which stands for Metrics over Available Resources, allows for a holistic view of prioritization across multiple teams and roadmaps while considering the business’s needs.
It is a ratio of the relevant contribution of a product feature towards a metric used to measure a specific business outcome, over the resources needed to achieve this contribution.
This is a great alternative to ROI because it looks at various metrics which can be leading indicators to revenue.
such as retention or NPS score are a measure of product benefits. These metrics can be measured in a specific timeframe relative to a forecasted outcome.
Indicate scarce resources such as Scala engineers or the most recently used UX designer.
While planning a roadmap, teams can use MoAR to prioritize by comparing features that require the same resources. What might this look like?
Here’s an example:
One of the business goals for the next quarter is to increase conversion by 12%. There are three potential features to choose from, but only 8 weeks of resources are available.
How do you choose?
- Feature A is expected to contribute to 60% of this goal and requires 5 weeks of resources. The MoAR for Feature A is 60/5 = 12.
- Feature B is expected to contribute 30% of this goal and requires 3 weeks of resources. The MoAR for Feature B is 30/3 = 10.
- Feature C may be a cost-saving metric, but it doesn’t help the conversion goal and requires 4 weeks of resources. The MoAR for Feature C is 0.
We can quickly de-prioritize Feature C since its MoAR is 0. But we can also see that there is an outcome gap: Feature A and B will only contribute to 90% of the target metric.
Therefore, the team needs to either reduce the target outcome by 10%, add additional resources or choose a different feature set to achieve 100% of the target.
Become outcome-focused with product prioritization frameworks
Product prioritization frameworks are great for identifying how to properly allocate resources and time to the right features when building a product.
Ultimately, the prioritization method can vary across teams, but the company-level goals and outcome-focused framework should remain the same.
With the right combination of alignment, strategy, and focus, product managers can easily make the shift from feature-based prioritization to outcome-based roadmapping.
Dragonboat simplifies the product prioritization process by connecting objectives to roadmaps across a portfolio of products so product managers can spend more time delivering amazing products – and less time managing numerous tools and spreadsheets.
A product portfolio tool like Dragonboat, paired with a user engagement tool like Userpilot, enables product teams to connect goals to plan and results in an interactive and responsive way.
About the Author
Kalei is the Marketing Manager at Dragonboat, the first responsive product portfolio platform for outcome-driven teams. She’s passionate about helping product teams accelerate time to value and deliver with confidence. When she’s not busy rowing, she likes to stand up paddleboard or read a good book.