Friday, June 1, 2012

Priority in Product Management

By Harald Rudell

A special characteristic of being a Product Manager is that although the goals you strive to accomplish for your products may be clear and measurable, the required actions are often not defined at all. And, as Rich Mironov points out, your executives will provide you with decisions and support, but expects strategy, forecast, roadmap and competitive intelligence in return. The Product Manager is on point.

Profits, Revenue and Cost
This is where a consulting background greatly helps. As a consultant, you are trained in the ability to quickly, and in a structured way, solve a problem you never seen before and in the process establish what the priorities should be. Typically, your goals are going to be expressed in revenue or daily users, and you could use a model based on sustaining key performance values in for example virality, retention and monetization, which in turn are determined by user-action driving features. So now you prioritize virality-type features, monetization features or retention features by their effect on your ultimate goals.

Phil Libin of Evernote fame expresses his framework by putting new features into buckets:
  1. Attracts new users at a minimum 10% lift
  2. Increases retention by at least 2% for a given retention time
  3. Increases revenue by at least 5%
If the feature isn’t expected to do any of that, Evernote is not implementing it. For the features they do implement, the highest gainers are done first.

Finally, Dan Olsen has a less quantitative approach to priority: the value expressed as the importance to the customer of the solved problem over the satisfaction with alternative solutions all related to the effort to implement the feature. Do the highest roi-to-effort ratio features first.

There are many right answers, but also a few not so right answers. The solution lies in how you prioritize and to do that, a framework connecting actions with goals is priceless.

By Harald Rudell

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