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Thursday, July 26, 2012

While you add new feature.....

Adding new feature is always a fun, going through list of backlogs, talking to stake holders and trying to work out the priorities of user-stories in backlog. Its also challenging because you as product owner are always under pressure from sales who want to add feature that their customer is looking forward to, or their potential prospect would not sign a deal unless you add that one golden feather in your product.

To understand true priority most of us follow a release prioritization matrix, a document (MS Excel file mostly) that helps product owners to put weightage against various features (backlog items). This probably is a good way to do find out priorities of various feature requests.

While you work on your prioritization matrix, do all maths and talking, you must always remember the primary reasons for adding a new feature (points mentioned below), and unless new feature request falls in any one of the following primary categories just avoid its inclusion in your next release.

  1. Features that increase revenue
    1. More revenues from existing customer
    2. Acquire new customers
    3. Help in crossing selling or collaborate with other products
  2. Features that decrease cost
    1. Improve productivity
    2. Eliminate or reduce any external dependencies (support or licensing cost etc)
    3. Optimizing operating procedures
  3. Features that help match competition - they may or may not have any impact on revenue or cost but helps in getting that crucial tick against a feature that customer values.
  4. Features that demonstrate R&D power / differentiating factors - influence your brand image positively

Features requested in first two category should always get top priority, category 3 and 4 are for consideration and largely influenced by executive decision.

Another points that you must remember is to always ask yourself and the team two questions on new feature request, one, what is the cost of not doing this and two, what is benefit of doing this (feature development). Pursuing this habit of asking two questions will help you in building a character of a no-nonsense result profits driven product manager


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