Weighted Scoring

Weighted Scoring is a prioritization technique that utilizes numerical scoring to help Product Managers know how to best prioritize features according to a set of standard criteria. Using this scoring technique, PMs can measure initiatives based on a cost-versus-benefits criteria and then rank them based on their final scores. One of the most challenging tasks for PMs is to determine which features should become part of a product and in which order should they be implemented. While some features may be given high priority, others may be pushed further behind on the backlog. 

Weighted Scoring relies on multiple layers of data to help teams make informed decisions based on the set objective and the corresponding quantitative business value for every item on the list. Weighted scoring means a development team uses scores to determine which criteria is more important than others and award priority features a higher portion of the entire score. 

How Can Product Managers Apply Weighted Scoring?

Weighted Scoring prioritization is accomplished in four major steps described below. 

Listing of Options

Here, a list of potential features and any other initiatives being considered should be clearly highlighted and documented. Consider all options to be included in the project without worrying about priority or challenges associated with implementation. In this step, the most common things to be identified include product features, project steps, software options as well as potential candidates to be hired for the project. Viability is the most important element at this stage as a Product Manager wants to consider all items they think will add value to a product as weighing is done later. 

Define your Criteria

Identify your criteria which should include both costs and benefits to serve as a basis on which each initiative shall be scored. After identifying a list of items that are scheduled to be included in a product, it’s time to find out the criteria that shall have a direct impact on the weight of each option. Criteria in this case includes cost, risk, time, quality, effort as well as return on investment. The criteria a Product Manager decides to apply in a Weighted Scoring Model are specific to the strategy of the business and the product. However, consistent factors that apply across all products include the return on investment as well as associated costs.  

Identify Weight Values to your Criteria

At this stage, it’s time to determine the respective weight of each criterion that shall be used to measure competing initiatives. No two criteria share the same level of importance which brings into perspective the importance of a Weighted Scoring system. For this reason, it is vital to use percentages to assign specific weight values to every criterion. 

Assign Individual Scores for Features

After each criteria has been associated with a weighted value, it’s time to assign individual scores for every planned feature or initiative based on all the cost-and-benefit metrics. Overall scores are then calculated in order to ascertain how items on the list shall be ranked. Based on this, a chart can be created to highlight which features shall be prioritized with each option measured on a scale of 1 to 5 or any range which is convenient. 

The weighted scoring system allows managers to make informed decisions on which initiatives will make it to the list of roadmap. As high scorers are given priority, those with the lowest scores are moved to the backlog. Product Managers have multiple tools, like a product management software and prioritization models which they can choose from. The best prioritization model depends on numerous factors such as the nature of a product, an organization’s culture as well as a product management style. 

The advantage of the Weighted Scoring Model is that it allows PMs to decide the criteria they shall use to generate their scores making it ideal technique when the goal is to prioritize against objectives and goals. On the flipside, the Weighted Scoring Model is so flexible that it lacks a defined standard for measuring either previous or future scores. Since the criteria changes frequently, the scores also fluctuate as well which makes the Weighted Scoring Model rank among the least precise compared to other prioritization models. 

For many Product Managers, making a decision on which features to focus on first or which initiatives deserve the largest share of development resources is often a challenging and subjective process. The Weighted Scoring Model allows managers to increase objectivity while making roadmap decisions. 

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