Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 

Setting Priorities #ACTCRM

by ‎04-08-2013 09:00 AM - edited ‎04-08-2013 09:19 AM (1,519 Views)

When work and life get busy I find that unless I have good focus, my productivity tanks. I'll spin wheels working on six different projects, dive into the biggest task I have, or just whine about how stressed I am. As the product manager I have to set priorities on what features we work on next. In both cases without a clear vision of priorities our efficiency suffers as we focus on tasks that don't deliver the biggest bang.


You'll find many resources telling you to set priorities by identifing urgent and important tasks and working on the urgent/important tasks first. Same industry recommendations for working on product backlogs. I totally agree, but how do you rank importance? I want a single list. Some environments are easy because the valuation is already done for you. Your goal is to make money, look for deals with the highest value and you've found the most important one. Most of the time it's not that simple. I need to balance multiple factors to judge importance.


First task is to break down into our project goals.


I'll start by using the example of my wife, Abby. What is important is to make her happy. You know the saying, "A happy wife means a happy life!". But happiness isn't a single value goal. Many things contribute to it. Abby is a magical creature and as much as I've struggled to understand her, what she wants is fairly simple. She values freedom, love, music, and home improvements. I created a spreadsheet to help me valuate her requests and ideas I have for making her happy.


Task Simplicity Freedom Love Music Home Improvements Value
Hang Guitars on The wall 9 4 2 7 6 5.6
Night Out for Music 8 8 3 8 1 5.6
Fixing the Outlet 8 4 2 3 7 4.8
Water Feature 3 3 7 1 9 4.6
Chocolate Covered Strawberries 8 1 8 1 1 3.8
Fixing the Toilet 6 1 2 1 7 3.4
Replace Carpet 5 3 1 1 7 3.4



I added in the column for simplicity. The idea here is my time is finite and all things equal how quickly I can acheive a change in her happiness should affect how important the task is. I use a 1-10 ranking scale, with each task relative to the set. The value column is just an Average. This is a quick exercise that shouldn't take more the 15 minutes from concept to execution. 


It may not seem romantic to project manage your love by valuating it in a spreadsheet, but if the end results are a happier wife then maybe Excel is a more useful tool than roses. 


What I like about this is the flexible framework gets me an ordered list. If I don't like the results, want to change the weighting of a column, or add a new valued goal, then I have the foundation to do this quickly. 


Now let's take a look at ACT!


I have some goals of aquiring new customers, delighting current customers, catering to larger accounts, and again under the perspective of what can we deliver quickly. 


Feature Simplicity New Customers Existing Customers Larger Accounts Strategic Value
Improved Quoting 6 8 8 8 7.5
Large Install Improvements 8 8 6 8 7.5
Subscription Licenses 7 7 7 8 7.25
Web Sync 7 8 7 7 7.25
Community Requests 7 3 9 8 6.75


This is my first pass through and will be running a variety of different categories through around 200 feature requests. I'm excited to share the results. 


How do you set priorities?