How to Prioritize Features with a Roadmap
Roadmaps can be incredibly helpful for organizing your product’s updates and keeping customers informed on any changes. But it can be difficult to know which features to prioritize over others to make your progress more efficient.
Keep reading to find out what roadmaps are, how to use them to prioritize your next feature, and how you can use UserVitals to do the work for you.
What Are Roadmaps?
Roadmaps allow for your company and customers to stay up to date with future updates and progress. Generally speaking, roadmaps are organized by item status (e.g. in progress, up next, coming soon).
These roadmaps can be “fuzzy”, meaning their timelines don’t have hard and fast due dates, or stricter. While roadmaps are often made public to keep users and customers up to date on the product, they can also be kept internal and viewable only to those inside your company.
There are many benefits to creating a roadmap for your product—both internal and external.
Within your company or team itself, having a public roadmap can help boost accountability. Everyone is aware of the tasks that need to be done and when they need to do them, helping team members stay true to their deadlines and responsibilities.
Likewise, having a roadmap that outlines all future and current goals can help boost internal cohesion and workflow by giving everyone a clear idea of what they need to work towards. Having this progress outline can get rid of lulls in workflow and help keep up the pace by encouraging team members to work together to get tasks done.
Roadmaps can also help boost transparency between your company and your customers. By allowing customers to keep updated on future updates and goals, they may feel more connected to the product and more involved in the process. This can also be good for bringing in more customers, as although you might not currently have a feature they want, they may still stay interested if they see it coming up in your roadmap.
How to Choose Features to Prioritize
Deciding which features to prioritize on your roadmap can be difficult, but there are many strategies and frameworks you can use to help you choose.
Looking at the impact of several important factors can help you decide how to approach feature prioritization.
What objectives are you focusing on for each feature build?
Often, these features will come from your team’s product vision, and as such define your company’s direction. It’s important to ask how your features align to product objectives or overall goalsand how much they will impact those objectives.
How do your chosen features impact use cases?
Your product should have several specific use cases that cater to specific customer groups. Identifying and utilizing these use cases for your product can help you choose which features fit within them and thus which ones may be more important to prioritize.
The desires of your customer base are also very important to keep in mind while choosing which features to prioritize. What features do they want? What features are they most looking forward to? Knowing the answers to these questions is vital to keeping your audience engaged and satisfied with your product.
Likewise, it is important to know how much of your customer base will be affected by your chosen feature. If it only impacts a small portion of your audience, then it may not be a good one to prioritize. But if it will improve or affect something a large percentage of your customer base uses, and therefore has a higher customer impact, it may be more important to prioritize.
One of the last things to consider is the amount of work that will go into your chosen feature. This includes the overall amount of effort, the size of your team, and the amount of time that will go into working on that feature.
Knowing this information can help you decide what to focus on in your roadmap. You may choose to prioritize features that require more work over ones that require less in order to get them done quicker.
Gathering Data for Features
There are five different ways you can collect data that will help you decide which features and action items to prioritize.
Work to identify the specific steps or parts in your workflow where customers are getting stuck or having trouble. This can help you identify customer pain points and decide where changes need to be made.
By recording what people do with their mouse and where they click, you can gather insights to what draws your customers’ attention and what parts of your site they visit the most.
Surveys & Customer Feedback
This type of freely-given customer feedback can be one of the best ways to gather information. Often, dedicated customers will want to help you improve your product. Use this feedback to figure out pain points and any popular requests and factor them into what you want to prioritize.
Reviewing support tickets and transcripts can help you find out common pain points and requests, allowing you to determine what should be prioritized or fixed first.
User testing involves observing current and potential users as they use your product and walk themselves through the process. This can give you a unique view into their thoughts and experiences and let you know what they want out of your product.
Frameworks for Prioritization
Now that we’ve gone over the data and approaches you can use to determine which features to prioritize in your roadmap, let’s go over some popular frameworks.
All of the frameworks mentioned help get rid of choice paralysis by organizing tasks into different themes or sections, making it clearer for you to see which features or projects you should tackle next.
Value vs Complexity Model
In this model, you evaluate each item on your roadmap based on its business value versus its relative complexity to implement. Many product managers already make this assessment every day when deciding which tasks to tackle first, so this model may come easier than others.
Features with the highest value and lowest effort can be considered easy wins, and therefore good for prioritization. But you should also prioritize high-value, high-complexity items, though they require more effort, as they are often more impactful on your customers.
In contrast, items with low value, regardless of their complexity, are often not good candidates for prioritization. If possible, revisit or reconsider these features later.
The Weighted Scoring model is very similar to the Value vs Complexity model, but scores features to make the result more objective.
Once you’ve weeded out all low-value items, your next step is to organize all remaining initiatives in a table and score them from 1-5 based on their benefits and costs. Some benefit factors may be revenue increases, value to customers and strategic value, and costs may include things like effort, operational costs and risk.
Now that all your potential features are ranked objectively, you can choose which high-scoring ones to prioritize.
The RICE Method is another popular way to decide which items to prioritize on your roadmap. This method qualifies and scores features based on four factors:
- Reach: how many people will this feature affect in a given period (e.g. customers per quarter, transactions per month)?
- Impact: how much will this feature impact your goals or help you reach them? Is it part of the ‘larger picture’, or separate?
- Confidence: based on current information, how confident are you that this feature will be a success?
- Effort: how much time will this feature require from all teams involved (e.g. product, design, engineering, etc.)?
Once you’ve scored your potential features based on these factors, multiply Reach, Impact and Confidence together and then divide that number by Effort. This new score will give a measure of the total impact per time worked, allowing you to prioritize features more accurately and objectively.
In the Kano model, potential features are looked at through the lens of the satisfaction they bring customers versus the potential investment required for them.
While there are some basic features your product will need in order to sell in its market, continuing to focus on investing in those features won’t improve customer satisfaction dramatically.
Other features, like performance features, give a more proportionate increase in customer satisfaction as you invest in them. Likewise, “attractive” features are those that you invest in that disproportionately increase customer delight. Though these features are not necessary to your product, investing in them further can increase customer satisfaction and keep users happy.
Lastly, features that are undesired by your customers will decrease their satisfaction and are to be avoided at all costs.
Essentially, the emotional response each type of feature gives your users is important in choosing which features to prioritize. Features that are undesired or will not improve customer satisfaction are generally to be avoided when prioritizing your roadmap.
User Story Mapping
Story mapping is a model often used by agile organizations to prioritize features by organizing and prioritizing user stories.
With story mapping, you can map out the flow of your product from beginning to end with cards or a Kanban board, and then arrange each feature in order of its position in the customer experience. Then, order the most important features to develop from top to bottom. This allows you to create slices of releases based on prioritization.
How to Use UserVitals to Prioritize Features
UserVitals makes creating a roadmap and figuring out what features to prioritize easy.
UserVitals automatically collects user feedback from several sources, including a website widget, integrations (e.g. Slack, Intercom, Gmail) and manual uploading. All of this feedback together can help you figure out what your users want from your product and how you can improve it to increase customer satisfaction and overall value.
Like most roadmaps, our roadmaps are split up by status: up next, in progress, and finished. Tasks are separated and sorted into each label, with longer descriptions available when you bring up an item.
Once your roadmap is finished, customers can view it and then click on a particular item to see more info about it and leave feedback if they wish. This allows you to see what changes they like and do any necessary task shuffling. Allowing customers to give feedback can also help users feel more involved in the process and stay loyal to your product.