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Product Prioritization – A few ways

Product Prioritization - A few ways

Although being “analytical” is one way for product managers and engineers, prioritization comes into the picture as a breakthrough. However, the number of problems varies from person to person.

Choosing prioritized tasks from other urgent issues shouldn’t be tough.


Prioritization is connected to analysis, and according to the significance, everyone should have a clear idea.

Priority group analysis and problem identification are helpful exercises.

Prioritization Basics & Background

For most product managers, prioritization is one of the primary concerns. Prioritization is something that a product manager must do to accomplish the goal, creating products that turn out to be a huge success and adding value to new & existing customers.


As a product manager, the hands-down tools that are very commonly used include Kano, story mapping, MoSCoW, Speed Boat, WSJF, Eisenhower, and many more. 


The B2B market is exhaustive based on my personal opinion. Regardless of the initiatives we take, the measures we put, and the analytical approach we apply, as a PM, the reactions from the market side are always the same. 


There is a huge gap built between the ones who are the makers of the products vs the ones who are marketing them.


  • The product makers mainly concentrate and prioritize small chunks so that they can entirely focus on the important stuff and finish them on time. Therefore, directly or indirectly, they turn down every request that comes from the stakeholders, with a valid explanation about “being committed to the tasks in hand”, of course.
  • On the contrary, for the sellers, prioritization is primarily about committing to essential tasks. 


The to-and-fro is common in plenty of companies which leads them in a position to battle between the fundamental objective.


So, is there a way to handle this? Are there approaches to take care of problems as such? Let’s have a look.

Common Approaches That Indeed “Work”!

There are many approaches that are actually helpful to work through this whole process. Check out the ones that I would explicitly follow to avoid getting “product” on the wrongful side.


1. Product Recap

I work in a certain way, and when I am struck with the idea that I think is powerful, I like to focus on it entirely. Call it whatever, but this is not the case with most organizations. They rather focus on new opportunities and initiatives that come along the way disregarding the underlying assignments. 

All of this could sound fancy and even take your attention for a moment. But wait a minute, is there excess time or talent or resources to focus on the new opportunities? If not, there is no point in changing the priorities, right


2. Allot Tasks Explicitly

Before diving right into sorting specific tickets, it is best to create a minimalistic approach across categories.

To achieve this, the new features and various customer initiatives can distinguish from similar items and objectives. Following a top-level allocation in such cases helps tremendously to avoid zeroing out the categories in any way.


3. Change the Dynamics

Once something is implemented, there is no going back. However, things can be controlled at the start. 

Not being rigid about the next things in line for development can save a lot of time, effort, and money. By implementing Now/ Next/ Later/ Never feature. This approach is extremely helpful in changing the discussion topics from cancelling anything that is still pending to what we are working on next when we finish this project.

Asking what’s coming up next clearly signifies there is room for more discussion. Moreover, the specifics, highlights, and structure are clear.


Now that I spoke about the three main approaches that have worked for me, it is about time to illustrate the techniques that added more sense and helped these activities. 

Product Prioritization Techniques

I will write down the ones that I think are the appropriate model.


1. The Kano Model

It was Noriaki Kano who came up with refined ideas and simplified techniques to intercept the approach and satisfaction of the customers. These techniques sum up to make the Kano Model.


  • Use a questionnaire to understand the needs of the customers.
  • There are four broad categories across which every feature can be aligned. They are performance, attractive, indifferent, and must-be.
  • The level of functionality being offered is proportional to customer satisfaction.

2. Story Mapping

All thanks to Jeff Patron for introducing us to story maps. The reason why these story maps were created was to organize the priority of tasks. According to him, the product backlogs don’t ideally do the job well. 


Therefore, with a structural process, everything can be more organized. In a story map, there is a horizontal axis that stands for usage sequence. The vertical axis, on the other hand, depicts criticality.


Through this visual team, everyone on the team gets a clear picture of the functional aspects of the system and the way it works. Moreover, it also defines the ways to carry out the product iterations without any hassle. 


3. Ian McAlister’s Substructure

This framework is very popular on various platforms, and the way it works is:


  • Understanding and defining the outline of the theme for every product line
  • Prioritize the themes and assign the designated resources accordingly
  • Building up project ideas for every theme. Implement the Pareto principle
  • Estimate the potential impact of each project
  • Comprehend the cost of every individual project
  • Within every distributed theme, put the projects in order of priority


Ian religiously follows this framework and finds tons of benefits to using it over and over again. Certainly, it creates a positive impact on the business.


Before I wrap up, it is important to understand the significance of prioritization. It is a lot more than simply an analytical style. Most organizations go through this as a challenge and often find themselves dug deep into the hole with the stakeholders.

Thus, product leaders need to improve the methods and parallelly motivate people to participate. There are plenty of models available, but they are never enough.

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels 

Photo by Julia M Cameron:

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Mayuresh S. Shilotri writes on Product, EdTech, UX, Customer Development & Early Stage Growth. 2,000-Word posts only. You can discover more about me here

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