Prioritizing Features in Your Product Releases
By Brian Lawley, CEO & Founder, 280 Group
When working as a Product Manager with an engineering team one of the biggest challenges you face is prioritizing what features are critical to include in your next product release. One of the most popular techniques for prioritizing features in an MRD (Market Requirements Document) or functional specification is to use the HML (High, Medium, Low) method.
Here are what the HML criteria represent:
High = Must have
This is a critical feature that the market demands, and you would not ship the product without it. Reasons to rank a feature high might include revenue implications (will lose a big customer deal if it isn’t in), competitive requirement to match or beat other products, strategic importance or even as a REF (Required Executive Feature) – when the CEO/VP insists that a feature be included.
Medium = Nice to have
This is an important feature that will help the product to succeed and be accepted by customers. Though you would ship the product without it, the product offering will not be as compelling if it is not included.
Low = Can wait if necessary
This is a feature that could be dropped off the list without affecting the product’s success. If it is extremely easy to develop and test it should be included in the product release. Otherwise it can be deferred if necessary.
To apply this technique assign an H, M or L to each of the features in your MRD. If you rank a feature as an H or M include one or two sentences explaining why it is important. Then have your team read through it (or present it to them in person to talk through all of the required features) before they sign off on the MRD so that you are all on the same page about what is critical for a successful release.
By the way, an excellent way to provide some context for which features are important is to use the concept of Themes for your releases. Combining HML and Themes can produce excellent results, and an MRD that is much more effective and credible for your team to work with.
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About the Author:
Brian Lawley is the CEO & Founder of the 280 Group (www.280group.com), which provides Product Management and Product Marketing Assessments, Consulting, Training, Certifications, Contractors, Templates and Books. He is also the author of five best-selling books: Expert Product Management, Optimal Product Process, The Phenomenal Product Manager, 42 Rules of Product Management and 42 Rules of Product Marketing.