Product Roadmap: How to prioritize features!


Welcome! I'm Amaury Khelifi, founder & CEO at MyCTOFriend.

In the Startup World, we often talk about the Minimum Viable Product. Some prefer to mention Minimum Sellable products. Others talk about prototyping, which is usually more technology-related, to prove that you are capable of what you’re talking about.

It all comes down to this: You need to define what’s your focus.
Most startups, most humans, move forward very slowly because they do not focus their energy on one direction first. Same energy used, but a bigger impact and achievement!

So if you don’t have any product yet, your focus should be to just, create an initial preview of what it will look like.
It could be for several reasons:

  • To get prospect feedbacks
  • To get funds
  • To explain what we expect to designer/developers

The most important is to NOT wait forever, before building something. Many startups work on their idea, seeking to get funding without being able to build anything. So no matter if you already have a product or not, if you have a big budget or not. I want you to spend your money wisely!

Of course, the roadmap will also depend on how much you can invest. Some projects will only have $500 to invest. Others, $5K, some will invest $50k or even more.  Just one easy rule to remember: “The more you invest, the higher is the risk to lose this initial investment.” Why? Because it’s easy to sign a contract with an agency to develop your MVP.

But the goal of the agency is not the same as yours. Your goal is to build a business, The development agency's goal is to make money by building something for you. So be sure you’re not going to waste your money! Let’s prioritize and define today what to build first, starting with the product alignment.

Step 1: Rank your features

As a company you have values. Your product might have a specific positioning. Step 1 to define a roadmap is to put a product alignment score on each feature (from 0 to 10).

  • Does the feature is aligned with Product Purpose?
  • Does having these features will prove the positioning?
  • Does it respect your companies values?

So let’s do this and put a score on how aligned each feature is with your vision. Pause the video and fill in the first column of an excel spreadsheet.
Are you done? Ok great!  Now before moving on to the next task, here is a bit of theory about how the roadmap definition works.

When it comes to prioritizing features most of the time, people take into consideration 2 things:
– The Positive impact the features will have on users’ life. (The perceived value your customers received)
– & the Required effort to build them.

This leads to creating 4 lists:

  • Top priority list: low effort, with high impact.
  • Research list: high impact, with a high effort required (R&D)
  • Wish-list: for low value and low effort features.

Usually, they stay in the wish list unless they can be integrated into bigger features. A parking lot for low value and complex features. To me, building a startup is much more than just listening logic and customers' desires.

Building a startup is also being visionary, and being sure that what you’re building, fits your vision. That’s why I started with the product alignment score, to be sure you will never prioritize features that are not aligned with your vision.

Step 2: Rank the perceived values

After the product alignment score, the second dimension I want you to take into consideration while sorting your features is the perceived value your customers received.

What magnitude of the (positive) impact will be experienced by one user, while using this feature in your product? 
(0= useless, 10= massive impact). Pause the video and let’s fill in this second column of your spreadsheet.
Are you done? Great!

Now the last column, What is the required effort to develop a feature. At that stage, no need to ask for a quotation or to really understand how complex a feature will be.  Just put a score on how complex you think a feature will be to develop.

Step 3: Rank the features’ development simplicity

When you’ll have understood the roadmap definition process, then you can get deeper with the other video I did about cost evaluations. So for this third step, let’s rank the development simplicity of each feature:

  • Put a 0 score on features very complex to develop
  • 10-Feature very easy to develop

Pause the video and let’s fill in this third column. Are you done? Great! Now the simplest part: we are going to add these 3 numbers to prioritize.

Step 4: Prioritize by adding scores

We do this prioritization, with not only 2 but 3 dimensions (your vision, perceived value, complexity). So you can use either, spreadsheets or calculate the sum manually. Then, you’ll be able to sort them out and prioritize what’s most important for you to focus on. Remember, more you put on your plate, slower you’ll be.

Step 5: Organise features in versions

And that’s where versioning comes into place. Unfortunately, when building a startup, it’s hard to develop a single page product or one single feature. Even if that’s what you should aim for! In reality, you need to be sure that you are creating a well-balanced ecosystem.

By ecosystem, I talk about: Clients, providers, Sellers, or partners. If they put some value in, they and also get some outcomes. So while prioritizing your features, be sure that everyone in your ecosystem will get something out of your features.

Develop the minimum, the smallest part of your product. (One step at a time)
Be sure to create a well-balanced ecosystem in this smallest step/version.

So now that’s your turn, write down on post-it all the features you’ve sorted. Position them on a wall or large desk and classify them to have well-balanced ecosystems, on each version. The table you’ve created previously should help you, but cannot become the entire prioritization without taking into consideration the business aspect.

That’s why when you’ll have positioned your features, move things around to be sure to have features that work well altogether, creating a well-balanced ecosystem. That’s your turn, position your features, and prioritize them according to:

  • Your product vision fit
  • The impact features will have
  • Their complexity

So let’s do it! Are you done? Great!

Now you know how to prioritize your roadmap:

  • Step 1: Rank your features
  • Step 2: Rank the perceived values
  • Step 3: Rank the features’ development simplicity
  • Step 4: Prioritize by adding scores
  • Step 5: Organise features in versions

I hope this video was useful to help you build and grow your startup.  If that’s the case, leave us a comment, like, share and subscribe. And don’t forget to click on the notification bell icon for our latest video updates!

Now, if you are serious about building a startup and want to become a better CEO & Tech manager.
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