How to Prioritize When Everyone Wants Something Different

Let’s Talk Prioritization

Hey, Corinn here, creator of Speckled the tool that helps PMs build the right thing at the right time. Today we’re going to talk about prioritization, why you need it, how to do it, and some quick tips to make sure it goes smoothly.

So…

  • How do you prioritize what your team should work on?
  • What makes it onto the roadmap and what doesn’t?
  • How do you develop your own prioritization process?

Prioritization is the absolute most important thing PMs can do

Well, prioritization is the one thing that you can do as a PM that makes everything so much easier. Implement it, and you’ll find that you’re a lot less frazzled by people asking you to build things for them, which tends to happen a lot as a PM.

You also find that your team is more focused on what really matters, and you can build a better product with less feature bloat.

So that sounds great, right?! Well, before starting Speckled, I was a PM at a small software company. We’ve received so many feature requests every week. Everyone wanted something different and everyone thought that their idea would be a home run.

Well, fortunately or unfortunately, we did try to build everything for everyone and we quickly realized that it was darn near impossible. As a PM, you simply don’t have the time or energy to do that.

You have to prioritize.

And the good thing is it doesn’t have to be fancy. What you need is a way to figure out where an idea falls in the grand scheme of things.

To do this, you’ll create a simple prioritization process that you and your team can use to assess new ideas.

Create a prioritization process in 3 steps

So, putting together your own framework is easy. Let’s break it down into three steps.

Step one: Figure out what’s important

The first one. It’s figure out what’s important. Prioritization is literally the the process of figuring out what’s important.

So it makes sense that this is what we would do first. And the good news is you probably have a pretty good idea of what is important to you already. You could find what’s important by sifting through your OKRs, your company vision, mission, its values.

Once you do that, and you have the list of three, four, five important things to your company, we’re going to use those as evaluation criteria when it comes to prioritization.

Step two: Get your list of things you want to prioritize

Step two is to get your list of whatever you want to prioritize together. So this could be things like feature requests, ideas, bug fixes, whatever you got, and whether it’s in Asana, JIRA, it’s in Trello, it’s in a notebook, it’s in your head. We’re going to get it all into one place, whether that’s in a spreadsheet or into Speckled, it’s up to you.

We just want them all in some place where we can easily look at them and evaluate them for step three. Which is to score and rank all of your items on what’s important to you.

Step Three: Score your list

Now that you have your list of things to prioritize, you’re going to go through each item and score it on your importance criteria.

For example, Speckled - we’re in the middle of building an MVP right now. It’s important to us that we can get things out fast, that the things that we build are viable. And that what we build actually activates users. So those are the three things that are important to us. So that’s what we came up with in step one. And step two, we have our list of what we want to prioritize. So say for example, we’re thinking about building a new onboarding tutorial.

That’s going to take us three days. It’s going to have a high viability. And we know that a lot of the users who are going to encounter it are going to become activated because of it. So we’re going to score our onboarding and then we’ll score each of the other ideas on our list.

At the end of going through and scoring your list, you’ll find that you have an apples to apples comparison of what is important to you, and you’ll find that the best ideas may float to the top.

There also may be some ideas at the bottom that you’re going to have to address and maybe have some uncomfortable conversations and that’ll be an article for another time.

Pro Tips

Avoid frequent reprioritization

Try not to reprioritize anything last minute. It just causes a little bit of chaos and it’s, it’s never good for anyone really. So if you can avoid it, try not to reprioritize as much as you can.

Let go of your own bias

As a PM you don’t get to prioritize whatever sounds the coolest to you.

You have to take the needs of everyone else first and make sure that those are balanced. Sure. Your ideas can still go onto the roadmap, but just make sure that they go through the same prioritization process as everyone else.

Summary

In this article, we covered

  • how prioritization can save your sanity
  • how to figure out what’s important to you
  • how to score and rank your list
  • why as a PM you can’t just prioritize whatever the heck you want to.

So if you liked this content, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter below.

And in the meantime, happy prioritizing.

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