How to Prioritize Software Feature Development?

Basic insights into importance of product prioritization in agile software development and best practices

Many companies fail to achieve the desired levels of success due to the lack of ideas that would work. What is the possible reason? It’s not like the company does not have personnel capable of framing new ideas. However, the mistake generally occurs when the focus of a company shifts from the important things to less significant products or services.

Therefore, a business should be proactive in choosing the particular features or products that it wants to build. The concerns of prioritizing features in a software product are primarily associated with selecting suitable ideas from a long list according to importance, urgency, and relevancy in the present scenarios. In the following discussion, we shall find credible insights related to the prioritization of features in software product development.

The discussion would also highlight the best practices needed to ensure appropriate prioritization. Before moving ahead in the discussion about product prioritization, it is essential to observe the significance of prioritization. One of the most important things to note about prioritization is the difficulty observed from risky trade-offs and complicacy of decisions.

Most important of all, small businesses could face the pressure of limitations on time as well as resources. Even if prioritization can be a stressful decision, it helps in gaining faster returns with a company’s IT investment. The choice of best methods and practices to deal with prioritization can be helpful for a business to improve their decision making as well as obtaining favorable business outcomes.

Challenges with feature prioritization

However, many product managers and leaders have indicated that decisions for prioritization of software features in agile development projects are difficult. What could be the possible drawback?

Need to involve many people

The first thing that can come into the picture when determining the challenges for prioritization is the personal nature of prioritization. The ideas or features are taken into account for prioritization are the personal assets of people, and therefore, they should be emphasized as symbols of the hard work of people.

Therefore, many stakeholders have to be involved in the process of prioritizing software features. This factor can be easily accounted for as a supporting factor in making decisions about the prioritization of products. However, the challenge is higher as different people have to be brought on board for reaching a final decision regarding product prioritization.

Excessive involvement and heckling of executives

The next important concern that is identified as a challenge for feature prioritization in Agile Software development is executive hijacking. This is observed commonly with some executives interfering in the already laid-out plans of the software development team. What happens actually? Executives tend to impose high-level ideas that should be included mandatorily in the software development roadmap.

Never fall for these in software feature prioritization

Now that we have identified the challenges that can arise when we Prioritize Software Feature development, it is essential to keep some of the red flags in mind to stay safe.

Don’t trust the gut, at least here!

It is recommended never to trust gut instinct for prioritization of features in a new software development project. For example, your CEO may be fixated on a new feature due to negative feedback from investors. However, it is reasonable to trust data and research about users to find out suitable priorities easily.

Look at the bigger picture

The next important concern that you should keep in mind for prioritizing features in a new software product refers to the ROI for an isolated feature. Even if a particular product idea would vouch for better money-making opportunities in the short-term, the long term implications should not be neglected in any circumstance. This recommendation could also be extended towards customers as they can be happy only with better user experience and subsequently improve the success and growth of a business.

Make efforts to find validity

Even if the sales and support team of a particular business is highly associated with the customers, their advice regarding product prioritization cannot always be true. Therefore, a business should make the necessary effort to find out whether the suggested feature is ideal for the customer segment taken into account by the business.

Best practices for product feature prioritization

An understanding of the challenges and negative tasks associated with feature prioritization in the agile development of software projects should be followed by identification of the best practices for prioritization of features.

Aligning the project with the vision of the business

The first concern that should be taken into account for prioritization of features in software products is the vision of the business. An organization should be capable of adhering to its core values in the selection of features that would signify the brand. Hence, it is recommended for a development team to dive deeper into the feature requests and focus on the long-term objectives rather than being drawn down by short-term feature requests.

Focusing appropriately on customer needs

The next recommendation for best practice in the case of feature prioritization for agile software development projects is to take consumer needs into account.  It is not advisable to stuff new software with features which don’t even matter to the customer. By including additional features in software products, the features would only hamper the user interface and increase maintenance costs. Hence, tampering with customer experience is the outcome, and you could end up losing customers because of some marginal utility features which could have been avoided easily.

Taking note of costs and risks

The emphasis on limits can also be a reliable intervention to help prioritize software feature development. The limits on resources could be identified clearly in terms of costs and risks. The costs for a development project would involve coding costs and testing, documentation, UI costs as well as costs for reusability of existing codes or designs.

The risks that are associated with a project for software development include technical complexities and the needs for new technologies or tools. Having a clear impression of the costs and risks associated with the software development project can help in finding a reliable impression of the features that would work the best with concerned software in the existing scenario.

Communication to the rescue

The conflicts between the executives and developers could also be formidable setbacks in prioritization of features in software development projects. Therefore, transparent communication is the recommended solutions that can help a business gain the most interesting outcomes from their software development projects. The importance of communication also extends further towards the efficiency of a business in achieving perfection with the overall project.

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