Product Prioritization
How do you decide on which features to build and when to pivot?
Question from
How do you decide on which features to build and when to pivot?
Answered by Victoria Young
COO of Outpace

With limited resources and a bunch of ideas, the decision-making process can seem daunting. However, by adopting a strategic approach and aligning our decision-making with user needs, business goals, and market dynamics, we can unlock the key to successful feature prioritization...and iterations that contribute to a pivot. In this blog post, we will delve into the factors and considerations to help you make informed decisions about what features to build.

User Needs and Pain Points

Start by deeply understanding your users and their pain points. Conduct user research, gather feedback, and analyze user behavior to identify the features that will solve their problems and meet their needs effectively. Prioritize features that align with user expectations and provide tangible value. Focus on enhancing the user experience, improving efficiency, or addressing specific pain points to drive user satisfaction and loyalty in a way that ladders up to the overall North Star metric for your team and business.

Business Goals and Strategy

Ensure that feature decisions are aligned with the broader business goals and strategy. Evaluate how each feature contributes to revenue growth, user acquisition, customer retention, or competitive advantage. Consider the market landscape, target audience, and competitive positioning to determine which features will provide the greatest impact and support the organization's strategic objectives.

For example, in 2017 Apple introduced Face ID, a facial recognition feature, as the primary authentication method for their flagship iPhone X. This decision was aligned with Apple's broader business goals and strategy of providing a seamless and secure user experience. Apple's business strategy has always focused on delivering innovative and user-friendly products. With Face ID, they aimed to revolutionize the way users interacted with their devices by replacing the traditional fingerprint-based Touch ID system with facial recognition technology.

The decision to introduce Face ID aligned with Apple's goal of enhancing user security while offering a more convenient and intuitive authentication method. It reinforced their commitment to delivering cutting-edge technology and differentiated their product from competitors in the market. Furthermore, Face ID was a strategic move that integrated seamlessly with Apple's ecosystem. It enabled features such as Animoji and personalized user experiences, creating a unique selling proposition and enhancing customer loyalty. By aligning the feature decision with their broader business goals and strategy, Apple demonstrated a clear understanding of their target audience's needs and preferences while maintaining their position as an industry leader.

Impact and Feasibility

Assess the potential impact and value of each feature against the effort and resources required for development. Prioritize features that offer high impact and can be implemented within a reasonable timeframe. Consider technical feasibility, resource availability, and dependencies on existing infrastructure or integrations when evaluating the feasibility of each feature.

When Slack introduced threaded conversations as a new feature within their messaging platform, the decision was driven by a careful assessment of the potential impact and value of the feature, weighed against the effort and resources required for development. Before threaded conversations, Slack users often faced challenges in organizing and following conversations within busy channels. The introduction of this feature aimed to address these pain points by allowing users to create focused, threaded discussions within specific messages.

Slack's product team assessed the potential impact of threaded conversations by conducting user research and gathering feedback from their user base. They found that users frequently expressed a need for improved conversation organization and context, which aligned with Slack's goal of providing a seamless and efficient communication experience.

In terms of development effort, Slack's product team analyzed the technical feasibility and resource requirements of implementing threaded conversations. They prioritized the feature based on its potential value and impact on user engagement, which justified the allocation of development resources. The introduction of threaded conversations had a significant impact on Slack's user experience, enabling users to have more structured and focused discussions. It enhanced collaboration and made it easier for teams to follow specific conversations, ultimately improving productivity and reducing information overload.

By carefully assessing the potential impact and value of threaded conversations against the effort and resources required for development, Slack ensured that their feature decisions were aligned with their objective of providing a highly functional and user-friendly messaging platform.

Data-Driven Insights

Leverage data analytics, user feedback, and market trends to drive feature prioritization. Analyze user behavior data, conduct A/B testing, and gather insights from customer support channels to inform decision-making. Base decisions on quantifiable metrics such as user engagement, conversion rates, customer satisfaction, or revenue potential. This data-driven approach helps prioritize features that have a higher likelihood of success.

Experiment and Learn

Embrace an iterative and agile development process that allows for continuous feedback and course correction. Prioritize a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach to quickly validate assumptions and gather user feedback before investing heavily in additional features. By releasing features incrementally and iterating based on user feedback, you can mitigate risks, make adjustments as needed, and continuously improve the product based on real-world usage.

With every product, it's necessary to stay agile and respond to market dynamics. With how quickly things move in the market, it's crucial to be open to change and adjust your product roadmap accordingly. By incorporating the mindset of a pivot into feature prioritization, you can embrace flexibility, iterate based on user feedback, and pivot feature sets if necessary. You can read more about how we've done this at Outpace here.

Deciding what features to build is a complex and multifaceted task, but by considering user needs, aligning with business goals, leveraging data-driven insights, and adopting an iterative approach, product executives can make informed decisions that drive product success. By prioritizing features that provide maximum value to users and align with the organization's strategic objectives, we can create products that resonate with our target audience, stay ahead of the competition, and achieve long-term growth. Remember, feature prioritization is an ongoing process that requires continuous evaluation and adaptation to keep pace with evolving user needs and market dynamics.

About the author
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Victoria Young
COO of Outpace

Victoria brings years of operational experience from top companies, focusing on research-backed strategies and proven tactics.


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