5 prioritization templates that help you focus on the right stuff

JAN 15 2018 | 7 min read
Prioritization is key to any organization. But yet, the way you do that differs strongly for whatever you and your teams aim to achieve. A product manager of a software startup who tries to come up with a coherent feature roadmap naturally works under different conditions and constraints than a project manager in the construction business who needs to decide between suppliers. So what is the right method for you and the job that you are trying to get done? One answer is looking at what management literature has to offer and adjust these proven prioritization templates * to your own situation.
Find below five hand-picked prioritization templates that help you focus on the right stuff.

#1 — Feature prioritization

Prioritization is a perennial challenge when building a product roadmap. This template will help you build the right features and products. This template is particularly useful for product managers and software entrepreneurs.

Business value (y-factor)

  • Revenue increase: Does this feature increase your revenue
  • Customer value: Does this feature add value to your customers
  • Strategic fit: How aligned is this feature with your company strategy

Effort (x-factor)

  • Development costs: What are the initial costs to develop this feature?
  • Marketing & sales costs: What are the costs to market and promote this feature?
  • Maintenance costs: What are the costs to maintain this feature after its release?

Risk (bubble size

How big are the risks and dependencies for the development of this feature?

#2 — Risk-reward prioritization

Find your oysters, white elephants, pearls or bread and butter projects. This prioritization template will force you to deal with resource issues. Oysters are hard projects with a low success probability, but a high business value if successful. Bread and butter initiatives are projects which have a high chance of succeeding, but a relatively low business value if successful. Pearls are easy projects with large value – they are often oysters that have come close to succeeding and may provide sustainable benefits for your business. Don't follow up with the white elephants as they are projects that are unlikely and not valuable.

This template is commonly used by project managers, product managers, marketing managers and CXOs (chief officers for anything).

Probability of success (y-factor)

Criteria for this y-factor

  • Technical: What is the probability of technical success?
  • Commercial: What is the probability of commercial succes

Value (x-factor)

Criteria for this x-factor

  • NPV (net present value): What is the expected NPV of the project?
  • Benefits after years of launch: How big are the long-term benefits of this project?
  • Market value: Does this project increase your market value?

People or work-month allocated to the project (bubble size)

Definition of the bubble size factor: How many resources do you need to spend on this project?

#3 — Business strategy prioritization

Prioritize your ideas and projects based on their strategic fit, economic impact and feasibility. Project managers, product managers, marketing experts, consultants and entrepreneurs of all kinds get the most value out of this prioritization template.

Strategic fit (y-factor)
  • Alignment with company goals: How aligned is this project to your corporate goals?
  • Market positioning: Does this project position you better in the market?
  • Core capabilities: Does this project improve your core capabilities and competencies

Feasibility (x-factor)
  • Technical risk: How big are the technical challenges of the project?
  • Resources financial: What are the financial resources to execute this project?
  • Resources people: Do you have the skills and bandwidth to execute this project?

Economic impact (bubble size)

What is the economic impact of the project?

#4 — Boston Consulting Group prioritization

Use the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix, if you need to distribute money or resources across your business units or products. Find your poor dogs, question marks, stars and cash cows. This template is one of the most cited management frameworks and delivers best outcomes for high-level, strategic decisions.

Market growth rate (y-factor)

What is the growth rate of your business units or products in their respective markets?

Relative market share (x-factor)

What is the relative share of your business units or products in their respective markets?

Allocated resources (bubble size)

How many resources do you need to allocate to this project?

#5 — McKinsey prioritization

Prioritizing your business portfolio will empower you to develop growth strategies and make keep or killdecisions of your business units. The prioritization templates is often used by entrepreneurs, strategy consultants and top-level managers.

Industry attractiveness (y-factor)

  • Industry growth rate: What is the long-run growth rate of the industry?
  • Industry size: How big is the industry?
  • Industry profitability: How profitable is the industry? Consider using Porter's Five Forces framework at this stage to determine profitability.
  • Industry structure: How is the industry structured? Consider applying a Structure-Conduct-Performance framework to determine this.
  • Trends of prices: Do price trends influence the industry in a positive or negative way?
  • Market segmentation: Does the market segmentation influence the industry in a positive or negative way

Strength of business unit or product (x-factor)

  • Market share: What are the market shares of your business units or products?
  • Relative growth rate: What are the relative growth rates of your business units or products?
  • Company's profitability: How profitable is your business unit or product?
  • Brand value: How big is the value of your brand?
  • VRIO resources or capabilities: Are your resources and / or capabilities valuable, rare, costly to imitate and is your firm organized to capture this value?
  • CPM score: How big is your Competitive Profile Matrix score?

Proportion of the business revenue generated by that business unit (bubble size)
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