Prioritizing Product Requirements with Scorecards

One of the product managers core responsibilities is to effectively prioritize product features. To an outside observer this often looks like reading tea leaves. Creating a process in your organization to effectively rank product initiatives will help create transparency and avoid squeaky wheel prioritization.

I’ve collected some research on the topic below.

This first article from Karl Weigers suggests using a cost / benefit ratio to prioritize product features. I’ve used this method in the past and thought it was pretty effective.

First Things First: Prioritizing Requirements Customers are never thrilled to find out they can’t get all the features they want in release 1.0 of a new software product (at least, not if they want the features to work). However, if the development team can not deliver every requirement by the scheduled initial delivery date, the project stakeholders must agree on which subset to implement first. Any project with resource limitations has to establish the relative priorities of the requested features, use cases, or functional requirements. Prioritization helps the project manager resolve conflicts, plan for staged deliveries, and make the necessary trade-off decisions.

This next post is a little different. It advocates using the Kano Model, a method developed in Japan in the 80s to prioritize features. I’ve read that this is often used by agile teams and it is somethig we might experiment with.

Leveraging the Kano Model for Optimal Results | UX Magazine The ‘Kano Model’ is used to measures customer emotional reaction to individual features. At projekt202, we’ve had great success in doing just that. Our success emerged from revisiting Kano’s original research and through trial and error. What we discovered is that it really matters how you design and perform a Kano study. It matters how you analyze and visualize the results.

Finally, @JeffLash argues against using scorecards at all. I don’t really agree with this but it’s useful to have a counter argument.

How do product managers prioritize requirements?: Ask A Good Product Manager: Your product management questions answered “I’ve known people who have tried scorecards, ranking systems, voting (see Product Development is not a democracy), but ultimately these are just ways to avoid the responsibility that product managers have to ultimately make the important decisions.”

Your Turn

Scorecards aren’t a way to avoid responsibility, they are a tool used to help you with one of your most important tasks – prioritizing features.

How do you go about prioritizing your product features?




  1. Drive-by Poster on April 8, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    “How do you go about prioritizing your product features?” If I had an answer to that, I wouldn’t be reading this piece :/ I’m on a team that isn’t really doing this well, and hoping to find a way to introduce a little rigor. But I don’t like the formulas I’m seeing– some pay no attention to relative cost, some also just seem too linear – add up scores in categories, no weighting for e.g. single-customer-driven requirements vs. general, moderate customer dissatisfaction vs. existential-threat/competitive features vs….

    • jcotellese on May 1, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      Some good points here. I deliberately kept weighting out of the equations. The point here is that there is no one size fits all recipe for Product Management score cards. You should tailor it to your business. If you’re not doing anything I’d at least suggest beginning with something simple.

Please share your thoughts.

Joe Cotellese
Product Manager
Joe Cotellese
Doylestown, PA

My first professional job involved playing video games for 9 hours a day. After experiencing early signs of brain rot, I decided to teach myself how to write software.

My entire career is characterized by this “why not?” attitude.

I'm currently applying my experience at product development to help early to mid-stage companies develop a “product first” mindset.

You can also find him at the links below.

Affiliate Disclosure

On blog posts where I discuss products I may include affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and buy something then I get a teeny-tiny commission. As of this writing I think I make enough to buy a cup of coffee once every couple of months. 

I don't get any paid compensation directly to write product reviews. I think that's pretty scammy.

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