Prioritization methods for Product Management — Part 2

Written by: Mario Grunitz

By Sergey Prihodko, CTO at clevergig.


In part 2 of our Prioritization methods for Product Management series, I’m going to take a look at two more interesting models that look at the question of prioritization methodically. In today’s article I’ll be looking at the MoSCoW method and Kano model. Each has a distinct roadmap for successful prioritization. It’s important to remember that this is a tricky landscape and making unvalidated decisions can cost you a great deal in getting your product to market. So without further ado let’s dive in.

Prioritization by the MoSCoW method

This one is an oldie but a goodie, developed by Dai Clegg of Oracle UK in 1994 and made popular over the years by exponents of the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM). Don’t worry I’ll cover that one soon too.

So I’m sure you guessed that MoSCoW doesn’t refer to the capital of Russia and I just have an odd way of typing it up 😉 MoSCoW is an abbreviation, where each consonant letter defines priority.

M — Must is a critical functional, without which the product would simply not work. These items are the ones to do first and of course if you have a couple M’s you’ll need to prioritize among those too.

S — Should is an important but not critical functional. You don’t necessarily need to do these to ensure the success of the product but You still need to do them because these are often the things that make you stand out from the rest. They’ll have a different time priority but should still stay high up on the list.

C — Could — These are the elements on your wish list. They’re desired, but not required for functionality. These elements are most easily identified when you can say that they are ‘usually inexpensive in terms of resources but will still improve the product’.

W — Would — The least critical requirements that do not always correspond to the product strategy. Ignore, delete or leave for discussion.

This is a simple method for quickly determining priorities. However, sometimes classification by category alone is simply not enough, so often MoSCoW is more suitable for internal projects, and not for mass products. An important thing to keep in mind when you’re thinking of your own product development pipeline.

The Kano model

A popular method of prioritization used in project management, business analysis and product development. It was developed in 1984 by the Japanese researcher Noriaki Kano. It is based on the prediction of customer satisfaction, specifically looking at user opinion on functionality. This model determines what leaves the user indifferent, unsatisfied or happy.

The Kano model is based on the following assumptions: satisfaction, reaction, feelings. Kano identifies five types of emotional reaction of consumers — 3 basic and 2 minor.

  1. Threshold attributes (Must-be qualities)
  2. Performance attributes (One-dimensional qualities)
  3. Excitement attributes (Attractive qualities)
  4. Reverse qualities
  5. Indifferent qualities

Threshold attributes (Must-be qualities) are mandatory characteristics of the product. They would cause dissatisfaction with users if they they’re absent, but interestingly they do not increase satisfaction when they are ‘added’. Users consider them mandatory because there are other products on the market that include this specific element. Be sure to analyze the competitors and add all the basic properties to the product.

Performance attributes (One-dimensional qualities) — correspond to the “quantitative” characteristics of the product. Associated with the obvious needs and desires of users. With qualitative implementation, satisfaction is increased.

Excitement attributes (Attractive qualities) — something new, which is admired by users. They are often a surprise to the user and greatly improve the response to the product, the opinion of it and the value. The absence of these factors don’t lead to discontent among consumers because they are neither expected or imagined (in your truly innovative products). This is the surprise and delight space.

Reverse qualities — anything you anticipate will cause discontent. Exclude these properties from the product. STAT

Indifferent qualities — as the name implies, user simply just don’t care so why bother spending the time.

The Kano model is applicable when you want to increase the value of a product in the eyes of consumers. But do not forget that the expectations of users are constantly growing, and the property they admire most can quickly move into the category of threshold properties so stay prepared and always be forward-thinking.

That’s all for now!

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Last modified: May 29, 2020
Author info
Mario Grunitz
Mario is a WeAreBrain Co-founder. With more than 15 years of experience in the tech space, he has worked all over Europe and held countless leadership positions in corporate, startup and agency spheres.
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