Product features: How to define and prioritize effectively

Atlassian By Atlassian
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Understanding and prioritizing product features– the distinct characteristics of a product that provide value to customers and stakeholders– is essential for creating product roadmaps. They help shape the product's core and its appeal. Well-defined features affect how the product appears in the market and ensure customer satisfaction.

Product features refer to what the product can do. Benefits refer to how these features improve the user experience by resolving pain points or making things easier.

This guide explains the differences between features and benefits and shares effective ways to decide what to work on first. This information aids in improving the product development process by making products that satisfy customers and meet the company's goals.

What is a product feature?

Product features are the unique functionalities or attributes of a product that provide value and utility to users. When presenting product roadmaps, these features become the foundational elements that shape a product’s value propositions. They are essential to enhancing the product's value and broadening market appeal.

Defining and prioritizing product features is essential, especially when considering their impact on user needs and the fulfillment of business goals. By evaluating these aspects meticulously, businesses ensure product features align with their strategic objectives and user feedback. This enriches the overall product experience.

How to define product features

A product manager leads the collaborative process of defining product features. Proper product management includes asking key questions involving multiple stakeholders, so features align with market demands and company objectives.

When defining product features, consider the following questions:

  1. Who is the target market?

    This question assesses demographics, how users behave, and the problems they face. This helps ensure you build a product that matches their specific needs and likes.
  2. What is the main goal of the product?

    This is what guides a product's development. Focus points define which features are essential to fulfilling a product's promise. It lets the product team focus on the core functionalities that directly address user needs, enhance user satisfaction, and align with the product's market positioning. It's about identifying the 'must-haves' that will deliver the most value, not the 'nice-to-haves' that may dilute the product's purpose.
  3. Have stakeholders provided feedback?

    Collecting input from customers, internal teams, and partners gives valuable insights, helping prioritize and improve features.
  4. Are there insights from competitors?

    Looking at similar products helps identify market gaps and features that connect with users, making the product stand out.

Answering these questions lets project managers identify important features that meet user needs, fit the product's main goal, and give it a competitive edge. This approach results in a well-thought-out product development strategy, enhancing its value for the target audience.

Differences between product features vs. benefits

It’s crucial for marketing teams to differentiate between product features and benefits.

Features act as the technical cornerstones of a product, encompassing its functionalities, components, and technical specifications. Benefits, in contrast, translate these features into real-world advantages. They explain how the product resolves specific user problems or enhances the customer experience.

By connecting features with their corresponding benefits, businesses can craft targeted marketing messages that inform and resonate with potential customers.

In doing so, they communicate a holistic product value proposition that appeals to consumers' rational and emotional decision-making processes.

Product features vs. epic vs. user story

In the product development process, product features are either epics or user stories, which help organize and execute projects more effectively.

Epics: The broad view

An epic serves as a high-level roadmap that guides the development team toward broader business objectives. It’s a large body of work made up of several smaller tasks or product features. Epics encapsulate how multiple features collaborate to deliver substantial value.

User stories: The fine details

User stories are far more granular. They dissect features into specific tasks and describe how users interact with the product. User stories outline individual requirements and functionalities that guide the developers' work. They act as the building blocks that form the broader visions set out in epics.

Why teams prioritize product features

Employing a hierarchical structure of features, epics, and user stories grants product development teams better control over project scope, priorities, and execution. 

This tiered approach facilitates a methodical implementation of key features that align closely with the product vision and user needs. But why is feature prioritization so crucial? 

Some core reasons include:

  • Focus on user needs: Prioritizing features allows the team to zero in on what users actually want. This increases user satisfaction and adoption rates.
  • Resource allocation: With a well-defined feature hierarchy, it becomes easier to allocate the right resources to the most impactful parts of the project. This optimizes the return on investment.
  • Agile adaptation: A prioritized feature list offers flexibility. Should market conditions or user feedback necessitate a pivot, teams can readily adapt without derailing the entire project.
  • Deadline management: Prioritizing important tasks helps set realistic timelines. This improves the likelihood of delivering the project on schedule.
  • Quality assurance: Concentrating on priority features actively directs testing efforts, resulting in a more resilient final product.

Incorporating these factors ultimately steers the team toward a more efficient and customer-centered development process.

How to effectively prioritize product features on a roadmap

There are several ways to successfully prioritize features on product roadmaps. This can range from strategies and templates to the essential role of Jira Product Discovery as a powerhouse tool for product teams. Some top choices include:

  • Resource utilization: Understand the time, budget, and personnel available. Distribute these resources wisely to achieve maximum return on investment for each feature.
  • Customer-centric approach: Use metrics and qualitative data to discern what customers really want. Align features with customer demands.
  • Competitive benchmarking: Analyze the competition and market trends to identify features that will give your product a competitive advantage.
  • User experience: Prioritize features that meet functional requirements and deliver a superb user experience.
  • Data-driven decisions: Ensure that reliable data, both internal and market-driven, supports the project’s initiatives.

The importance of adaptability

In a landscape that changes swiftly, adaptability is a necessity. Make sure the roadmap can pivot as market conditions and user preferences change. A product roadmap template keeps everyone from stakeholders to developers on the same path.

The Power of Jira Product Discovery in roadmapping

Jira Product Discovery brings structure, strategy, and robust functionality to product planning. Metrics, like business value and cost of delay, provide concrete data that informs prioritization and decision-making, revealing the impact of product features on overall strategy and financial results.

Jira Product Discovery enables a project manager to aggregate and categorize feature ideas based on their impact and alignment with project goals. Using a scoring system, Jira Product Discovery helps identify the initiatives that will have the highest impact. After prioritizing, product teams can create custom, up-to-date roadmaps to share ideas.

Seamless integration with Jira

Jira Product Discovery interfaces seamlessly with Jira. This ensures alignment between strategy and execution by providing full context and visibility throughout the product development cycle. This connection is critical for meeting stakeholder expectations and market demands so teams have full context from inception through implementation.

Before launching any features, align stakeholders with a product requirements template to establish clarity.

Questions project managers should keep in mind

When prioritizing product features, consider these questions:

  • What are the relative priorities of each initiative?
  • What's the potential impact on the product and the company?
  • How resource-intensive is each initiative?
  • Is there enough compelling data to go ahead?
  • What is the target timeline?
  • Are there any dependencies to consider?
  • Which teams will spearhead each initiative, and do they have the bandwidth?

Adaptive roadmapping for long-term success

Jira Product Discovery offers dynamic roadmapping functionalities, allowing for real-time adjustments in line with shifting priorities and conditions. This ensures the product remains competitive and meets customer needs effectively.

Prioritize product features better with Jira Product Discovery

Understanding and effectively prioritizing product features is essential for successful product development. Jira Product Discovery serves as a vital resource for this task. It fully integrates with the Atlassian platform, facilitating a seamless flow of information between product managers, developers, marketers, and other key stakeholders. This approach actively prioritizes product features to align with the company's broader goals.

In a market demanding both agility and focus, Jira Product Discovery provides product teams with the tools for data-driven prioritization and dynamic roadmapping. Discover how Jira Product Discovery can be your catalyst for success.

Product Features: Frequently asked questions

Why is a product feature roadmap important for product development?

A product feature roadmap provides the development team with direction, connects stakeholders, and ensures the end product is cohesive and valuable to users.

What are some challenges in managing a product feature roadmap?

Challenges include:

  • Scope creep: It's easy for product features to balloon beyond the original vision. Staying true to your core objectives helps keep the project on track.
  • Changing priorities: As markets fluctuate and feedback rolls in, priorities may shift. Remaining adaptable yet focused on strategic goals is crucial.
  • Balance of needs: It's a tightrope walk between current demands and future aspirations. This balance requires skillful management to ensure long-term success.

What is the relationship between a product roadmap and a project timeline?

A product roadmap sets the strategic direction, while a project timeline details the scheduled execution plan within that roadmap.