Prioritization Notes

The best ideas on how to make a decision on what to do next

Decision Making

Decisions must be based on data. Otherwise, you risk missing vital factors and end up with unsatisfactory results. Use quantitative rankings, charts, and matrices with values directly tied to your customer feedback and product strategy to help you with decision-making.


Metrics for optimizing funnel of product growth.

  • Acquisition—arrives from marketing channels telling about the product.
  • Activation—visitors converted into active users (e.g. passes onboarding).
  • Retention—users returning to use the product.
  • Referral—people spreading the word about the product.
  • Revenue—convert active users into paying customers.
AARRR Prioritization

What to do first for optimizing product growth funnel.

  1. Transform AARRR steps into scoring criteria for Weighted Scoring Matrix.
  2. Decide on criteria weights to focus on specific goals more. E.g. Retention is more important now.
  3. Decide on the score scale. E.g. estimates in affected users or just scores from 1 to 5.
  4. Add Effort Criterion with negative weight to consider development.
  5. Prioritize all product related tasks with scores for all tasks by each AARRR step.

AARRR score = A(Score x Weight) + A(S x W) + R(S x W) + R(S x W) + R(S x W) - Effort (score x weight)

DHM Model (by Netflix)

Brainstorm ideas to answer:

Delight customers

How will the product delight (D) customers?
Both now and in the future.

Creating a hard to copy advantage

What will make the product hard (H) to copy?
Brand, Network effects, Economies of scale, Counter-positioning, Unique technology, Switching costs, Process power, Captured resource.


What are the business model (M) experiments required to build a profitable business?

Eisenhower Matrix

2x2 matrix for personal time management.

Make two separate assessments of each task:
  • Is it urgent or not urgent?
  • Is it important or not important?
  • Urgent + Important → Do First.
  • Not Urgent + Important → Schedule.
  • Urgent + Not Important → Delegate to others.
  • Not Urgent + Not Important → Avoid doing.
HiPPO Effect

Highest Paid Person Opinion with the most power in the room whose opinion can’t be disputed. Other opinions and data can be ignored. In some cultures, people can be afraid to speak against the HiPPO.

  • Ignored strategy and roadmap.
  • Development cost increase.
  • Growth rate decrease.
  • Team productivity decrease.
How to handle:
  1. Challenge decisions not aligning with goals.
  2. Explain each decision and support with data.
  3. Involve everybody in the discussions and collect opinions.
  4. Focus on customer opinions and core values.
  5. Enable free data flow within the company.
MoSCoW Method

The simplest method to sort tasks with only one criteria. Mark each task with just one label:

  • Must—Critical to the current delivery timebox to be a success.
  • Should—Important but not necessary in the current delivery timebox.
  • Could—Desirable but not necessary. Could improve customer satisfaction.
  • Won’t—Agreed as the least-critical. Not planned.
RHiNO Effect

Really High-value New Opportunity—a sales-person with a customer deal for an unplanned feature insisting re-allocating resources to build what's required to win the deal.

  • Ignored strategy and roadmap.
  • Resources allocated to serve a single customer.
Two ways to handle:
  1. Compare the opportunity cost and value, and argue against signing the deal if you have customer insight supporting the roadmap.
  2. Adjust the roadmap if the opportunity includes features you already had planned for later in the year.
Task Re-evaluation

Scores discard and reiterated assessment over time.

  1. Set the score expiration period—depends on sprints and user context update.
  2. Set the re-evaluation deadline—must be ready before sprint planning.
  3. Set the team reminders—must be done regularly by the whole team.
  1. Shared understanding.
  2. Priorities actualization.
  3. Meeting time reduction.
The North Star Method
  1. Set a North Star metric—consolidate the work you’re doing and the value you’re delivering across acquisition, engagement, conversion, and retention.
  2. Define your user flows—define your app’s key events; draw the flows between events; use your analytics to identify the percentage of users taking each flow.
  3. Build a growth model—use the information about the user flows and are guided by the North Star metric to determine the growth drivers.
  4. Create a spreadsheet—transfer the model to a spreadsheet and evaluate your opportunities, to see how they impact growth.
User Story Mapping

Visual exercise for prioritizing requirements in terms of customer value.

User story format: As a [type of user], I want to [action] so that [benefit].

  1. Frame the problem—Define the customer problem.
  2. Define the user—Define your target audience.
  3. Map user activities—Outline the activities every user does.
  4. Map user stories—Break down each activity into user stories.
  5. Prioritize—Rank stories by importance top to bottom.
  6. Flow—Map the users flow through the product.
  7. Identify risks—Envision the potential user issues.
  8. Plan sprints/releases—Group stories by priority within each activity.
  9. Schedule the prioritized user stories into sprints/releases.
Value vs. Complexity / Effort Matrix

2x2 matrix for prioritizing initiatives.

Make two separate assessments of each initiative:
  • How much value will the initiative deliver?
    Scored: High Value / Low Value
  • How much effort will the implementation require?
    Scored: High Complexity / Low Complexity
  • High Value + Low Complexity → Quick Wins.
  • High Value + High Complexity → Big Bets.
  • Low Value + Low Complexity → Maybes.
  • Low Value + High Complexity → Time Sinks.
Value vs. Risk Matrix

2x2 matrix for prioritizing initiatives.

Risk options:
  • Schedule risk—Can’t be realized in time.
  • Cost risk—May cost more than allowed.
  • Functionality risk—Not able to implement.
Make two separate assessments of each initiative:
  • How much value will the initiative deliver?
    Scored: High Value / Low Value
  • How risky is the implementation?
    Scored: High Risk / Low Risk
  • High Value + Low Risk → Do First.
  • High Value + High Risk → Do Second.
  • Low Value + Low Risk → Do Last.
  • Low Value + High Risk → Avoid.
Weighted Scoring Model

Numerical scoring for prioritizing initiatives by multiple data layers.

  1. List the initiatives under consideration.
  2. Devise a set of cost-vs-benefit criteria to score each initiative.
  3. Determine the weights of each criterion by their importance.
  4. Assign individual scores for each initiative by each criterion.
  5. Multiply each score by the criterion weight.
  6. Add up the results for each initiative.
  7. Rank initiatives by their total score.
ZEBRA Effect

Zero Evidence But Really Arrogant—a person considering them-self an expert really knowing the customer but doesn’t have any facts to back them up.

  • Ignored data and customer opinions.
  • Pseudo expert decisions about customer needs.
How to handle:
  1. Support each decision with real data.
  2. Involve everybody in the discussions and collect opinions.
  3. Focus on customer opinions and core values.

How to choose a prioritization framework?

Not sure what to choose? Download our prioritization frameworks guide with questions, examples and useful links. Explore it in hi-res PNG, PDF or interactive Miro Board.