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A strategic approach product managers can use for choosing product features
Today we are talking about prioritizing product features.
Helping us is someone who’s been prioritizing customer feedback professionally since 2001. His name is Kareem Mayan, and he is a co-founder at Savio, a company that simplifies collecting, organizing, and acting on customer feedback . He is a serial entrepreneur and previously a product manager and software developer.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
Tell us about your 5-step process for prioritizing product feature requests.
Prioritization is as much art as it is science. This framework lets you narrow down a big list of features, but there’s still a lot of art involved in the process.
[7:07] Step 1: Get Clear on your business goals
I see teams struggle when they’re not clear on what the company is trying to accomplish. If you have a clear business goal—like increasing expansion, reducing churn, or increasing conversion—it becomes a lot easier to narrow down your feature candidates. Often, I see leadership not giving clear direction to the product team about what to build.
[9:52] Step 2: Filter the feature requests based on what your most important customers want
If your goal is to win more deals, identify the feature-related reasons your sales team lost deals in the past. If your goal is to reduce churn, look at what features your current customers asked for that you didn’t build. Use a tool like Savio or a spreadsheet to process your data; it should take you seconds to find the information you need.
[12:54] Step 3: Prioritize further by other attributes that matter
Once you’ve identified your business goal and broad set of features, you should sub-segment your features. Look at the features requested by a segment of customers you’re interested in. If we’re trying to reduce churn, we might want to see which features our ideal customer profile (ICP) requested. Or if we want to reduce churn in our enterprise plan segment or our European customer base, we look at features requested by customers in those segments.
For example, we’ve had customers in Europe who have churned because they wanted our tool in their language. If we wanted to expand in the European market, we could build a feature to solve this problem and expand our market.
[21:12] Step 4: Determine your development budget
Decide among the three buckets you could spend your development budget on: new features, strategic features, or tech debt. This isn’t an exact process; decide roughly what percentage of your development budget to spend on each bucket. We like to say, “Spend your devs wisely.”
Understand how much you want to spend on each feature. Talk to the development team and figure out where they’re confident and which parts aren’t finished. Use time as an estimate; if a feature is only worth one week to you instead of two, figure out how you can make it cheaper and faster to get it tested sooner.
[25:05] Step 5: Choose the features and confirm with other stakeholders
Many stakeholders like sales, customer success, development, and the CEO will be interested in your proposed list of features. Instead of sharing the features for the next cycle to all of them at once, share your list with each stakeholder one-on-one and talk about their concerns. Then when you get in the room with everybody to approve the features, all the objections will have been addressed in the less contentious one-on-one environment. Use customer feedback to back up your decisions. Ask questions and have conversations about the data and what customers are asking for to get folks on your side. Use the phrase “not right now” and share data to head off conflict.
Action Guide: Put the information Kareem shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
- Read Kareem’s article about prioritizing product features
- Learn about Savio
- Connect with Kareem on LinkedIn
- Check out Kareem’s consulting work
“Innovation, not invention.” – David Cancel, CEO of Drift
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.