Does this scenario sound familiar? You released the first version of your product some months ago and watched on with excitement as new users started to roll in. Things looked good - after all the long days and hard work, seeing the rising numbers of users visiting your homepage feels validating. But one month on, the picture looks much less promising. Perhaps only 20% of visitors sign up for your service, and after 30 days, maybe you're left with a measly 20 daily active users.
But you don't lose hope. Instead, you think, "This is a long game. I'm probably only one cool new feature away from making this product a resounding success". This is the Next Feature Fallacy - the idea that your next feature will suddenly make users want to use your entire product. If you've fallen into this trap, then you're not alone. However, it's critical to understand that your next feature won't save your product. This belief almost always fails.
To avoid falling victim to the next feature fallacy, SaaS product managers need to focus on a more strategic approach to feature prioritization. Luckily, there's an abundance of proven product prioritization frameworks to choose from. And that's what we're going to be getting into today. So without further delay, let's look at the 5 product prioritization frameworks that will empower you to create more impactful and engaging products.
Reach: This is an estimate of how many people the feature will affect in a given time period. You can decide your own timeframe, for example, one month or one quarter. For example, if you estimate that 1000 users will reach your free-trial download page, and 20% will sign up, your reach score will be 200.
Impact: This is an estimate of how the feature will impact each person who uses it. You estimate impact using a 5 point scale, where 3 = massive impact, 2 = high impact, 1 = medium impact, .5 = low impact, and .25 = minimal impact.
Confidence: This is about assessing how confident you are in your reach and impact estimates. Essentially, confidence helps you account for the difference between evidence-backed estimates where you might have high confidence and "gut feeling" conclusions. Confidence is a multiple-choice score where 100%= high confidence (you have robust quantitative metrics), 80%= medium, 50%= low confidence, and 20%= moonshot (you should shift your priorities).
Effort: This is a measure of how much time the goal will require from the entire team (product, engineering, design). It's measured in "person-months," meaning the amount of work a team member can do in a month. For example, if the project will take a total of 2 person-months, your effort score will be 2. You're encouraged to use whole numbers here to keep it simple, but a minimum of 0.5 months is acceptable.
To calculate your RICE score, you use this equation:
Reach x Impact x Confidence / Effort
RICE scores are an excellent way to choose between competing ideas.Pros of RICE Scoring Model
MoSCoW is a popular prioritization technique for SaaS product management and has absolutely nothing to do with the Russian capital. The acronym represents four unique categories and the product team is tasked with classifying features into these categories:
Must Have: These are non-negotiable features that the product/project can't do without.
Should Have: Features that add significant value but aren't vital to the product's functioning at launch. The absence of "should haves" shouldn't cause a project failure, but they're still considered important.
Could Have: These are less important but still wanted features. Could haves will have a lesser impact than should-haves if omitted from the project. They're the "nice-to-haves."
Will Not Have: Features that add little to no value or have some value but shouldn't be a priority to this specific release.Pros of MoSCoW Prioritization
Value vs Effort is a simple prioritization method that helps you quickly visualize your initiatives and make decisions at a glance.
It works like this: you give each feature a score for value (how important it is in helping you achieve your goals) and effort (how difficult it is to build). For example, you might decide to use a 1-5 or 1-10 scale, where the higher the number, the more value created or, the more effort required. To get your final Value vs Effort priority score for each feature, you use the equation value/effort.
For example, let's suppose you want to allow customers to pay using cryptocurrency. You might determine this will have an impact/value of 2 because this feature won't appeal to most of your customer base but may be very attractive to one customer segment (tech-savvy high spenders). You might already have the in-house skills to pull this off but need additional resources, so give it an effort score of 3. Your final value vs effort score for this feature will be 0.67.Pros of Value vs Effort
The Kano Model helps you prioritize your software feature requests based on how likely they are to satisfy or even delight customers. The idea behind the Kano Model is that you shelve other priorities like revenue potential and instead focus entirely on customer satisfaction. Essentially, you plot the features on a graph with the horizontal axis representing the implementation values (the degree to which customer need is met) and the vertical axis representing the level of customer satisfaction.
You categorize features into five categories, basic/must-have, performance, delighters, indifferent, and dissatisfaction. However, only the first three should make it onto your roadmap (indifferent and dissatisfaction represent features to avoid).
Basic/must-have: The features your customer expects and will take for granted. Your product won't be a viable option without these features.
Performance: Investment in these features leads to a proportionate increase in customer satisfaction. For example, increasing file storage capacity in your app might have a linear impact on satisfaction levels.
Delighters: Also called excitement features, delighters significantly impact customer delight but aren't features your customers expect. They foster an outsized positive response.
You determine customer satisfaction by creating a dedicated Kano questionnaire.Pros of the Kano Model
Buy a Feature is both a feature prioritization method and a fun little game. Essentially, you gather your list of features and assign a monetary value to each one. The value will depend on the time, resources, and effort required to implement each feature. You then ask your team members (or customers) to "spend" money on the features on the list. Some people will naturally give all their money to a feature they feel strongly about, while others will divide their money between features. Finally, you arrange your list based on which features amassed the highest monetary value.Pros of Buy a Feature
There's often a buzz of excitement in the air when product managers talk about what they want to build next. However, this excitement can cloud your judgment and lead to less than exciting features. Likewise, the Next Feature Fallacy can lead you down the wrong path. With this in mind, feature prioritization methods are a great way to ensure you're focusing on the right features - the ones that will have a meaningful impact on your customers.
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