For product managers, the prioritization process is make or break, especially since it determines which of the ideas in your product backlog get the green light. Not only that, but narrowing down the list of customer feedback and feature requests is a full-time job in and of itself. But as intimidating as it can be at first, taking stock of all the ideas vying for the top spot in your prioritization list doesn’t have to be guesswork.
Enter custom weighted scoring, aka every product manager’s unsung hero. Yes, product managers juggle hundreds of different projects they could be working on at any given time—not to mention the pressure to deliver new updates and releases for anxious users is never-ending. That’s why implementing a repeatable, systematic prioritization method makes so much sense.
For one, it takes the guesswork out of prioritization by constantly surfacing what ideas your team should be focusing on next. Think about it—when you score your ideas and features against a standardized set of factors, your team is that much more likely to be aligned on which ones require your immediate attention, effort and resources.
The best product prioritization frameworks even out the playing field by using custom weighted scores, which are linked directly to your most important customer feedback. No more second guessing, no more unnecessary meetings asking everyone to vote on what they think should be worked on next. By relying on custom scores, you can feel confident that your team is heading down the right product path.
What’s in a score?
First things first, let’s get our terms straight: What is a custom weighted score and why do so many PMs look to it as their guiding light when it comes to product prioritization?
Good questions! Weighted scoring is a prioritization methodology that helps product teams decide how to prioritize ideas and feature backlogs. From there, those ideas are scored using a set of criteria—what we at Roadmunk call factors and factor values—on a cost vs. benefits basis.
By setting custom weights for your factors, you have total control over the importance each one holds—and ultimately how every factor impacts the final custom score. For instance, splitting the weight between two factors at 50% each would give them equal importance, while splitting the weight between three factors at 50%, 25% and 25% would make the first factor the most substantial in the final calculation.
When your scores are finally in place, you can then rank your ideas from highest to lowest. That way, you can systematically generate an actionable goal or objective business value for each idea on your product scoreboard, ultimately determining the course of your product strategy from ideation to execution.
But it’s not just product managers who are champions of custom weighted scoring. Stakeholders also benefit from this feature, since they can catch an at-a-glance view of what ideas are most valuable to the business based on the final calculations and relative importance of each criteria.
Your ideas, your scores
Now that you have a basic understanding of what custom weighted scores are and why they’re the lifeblood of the product prioritization process, let’s see how you can quickly set them up and start working with them in Roadmunk.
Creating custom weighted scores in Roadmunk starts with creating a custom view based on your preferred prioritization model. Once your view is set up, you can toggle on or off any built-in factors (like R.I.C.E. and Value vs. Effort) by clicking into the “Edit Factors” panel, as well as create custom factors and set custom weights for each. Want to combine the power of custom weighted factors with built-in factors so they work in tandem? Never fear, because it’s easy to put the two together in Roadmunk.
When setting custom weights for positive factors, keep in mind that they must total 100%. If you want to include a negative factor, select “Divide score by a negative factor” when setting your custom weight, then choose the negative factor from the dropdown. Just keep in mind that at this time, you can only work with one negative factor at a time when setting up your formula.
Because we know there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to factors, you also have the option to create your own that matches your team’s specific needs. These custom factors can be one of four types: a five-point rating, a numeric value, a checkbox, or a percentage score. You can also choose whether each factor will positively or negatively affect your score. As you might expect, positive factors add to the prioritization score, while negative factors detract from the score.
Let’s take custom scoring for a spin using one of the most popular frameworks as an example: Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF). What makes WSFJ so useful? It helps you prioritize the most important ideas that also take the shortest amount of time to implement. At the most fundamental level, calculating WSJF consists of taking the Cost of Delay divided by the idea’s Duration or Size. From there, ideas with the highest scores will rise to the top, clueing you into what you should be paying the most attention to.
But WSJF isn't the only custom framework you can create within Roadmunk. Weighted scores also work well if your team wants to assign different priorities to factors based on how they impact different areas. For instance, I could create a Weighted R.I.C.E. prioritization view with a series of factors based on geographical regions and their impact—including U.S. reach, EU reach, APAC reach, and so on.
Of course, these are just two prioritization framework of a multitude that you can use with custom weighted scores, whether your go-to method is Cost vs. Benefit, Opportunity Scoring or your own unique method that you’ve created based on your team’s goals. Ultimately, the ball is in your court to decide which framework (or frameworks) make sense to match up against your product backlog. As long as you get set up correctly with the proper weights and factors, you can sit back and let Roadmunk do the bulk of the grunt work for you.
Whenever you tweak your custom factors, the corresponding scores will automatically change, so you can always be sure that little-to-no math skills are needed on your par—there’s a reason you’re a product manager and not a math teacher, right?
You have the scores. Now what?
After you’ve set your custom weights and watched your scores change accordingly, it’s time to prioritize your ideas. Within Roadmunk, you can order your ideas either by priority or by sorted list. Sorting by priority puts the power in your hands to drag and drop your ideas into whatever order you want.
However, if you prefer a view that's less subjective and only takes each individual score into account, you can switch the view to be a sorted list and order by the factor that’s most important to you. This is especially helpful if you're looking for ideas that meet certain criteria but may not have the highest prioritization. For example, sometimes product managers might be on the lookout for ideas that are lower effort in order to focus on quick wins.
Lastly, if you want to connect your product ideas to your roadmaps, you can promote your most high-impact ideas to a roadmap, seamlessly connecting your product backlog with your fleshed out product strategy.
Ready to go out and conquer every aspect of custom scoring like the product pro you are? Keep your product learning going by diving into a few of our other favorite prioritization resources:
- The Ultimate Guide to Product Prioritization: In this eBook, find out how to use both qualitative and quantitative prioritization frameworks to understand which user problems are worth solving.
- How to Prioritize Features Using Weighted and Unweighted Scorecards: We’ve talked a lot about what makes the weighted scoring method so valuable, but what are the differences and benefits of an unweighted prioritization methodology?
- 9 Product Prioritization Frameworks for Product Managers: From R.I.C.E to Value vs. Effort to the Kano Model, all of your favorite prioritization frameworks are here for exploring under one roof.