The Simple Equation for Validating and Prioritizing Projects

When prioritizing projects to kickoff, whether it’s for a new product or feature, the formula you don’t want to use to determine whether it’s worthwhile is “if this, then that.”

For example, it’s tempting to think, “if we build a feature, we’ll make customers happy.” Unfortunately, this rarely works out in your favor.

The formula you want to use is “because this, then that.”

What you want is, “because so many people like this feature, we should double down!”

When you start trimming away the fat and focus on what you’re great at and what people truly want from you, then you’ll succeed.

Why people buy things

People use products and services to complete a job or task. They are in one state and would like to move to another state.

For example, I like to write most of my emails first thing in the morning. However, that does not mean I want them to be sent right away. So I hired Boomerang for Gmail to send my emails for me.

My before state was:

  1. Write emails first thing in the morning
  2. Save emails in drafts folder
  3. Set a notification to send email
  4. Receive notification and send email

My after state was:

  1. Write emails first thing in the morning
  2. Schedule emails

The reason I’m spelling this out is to give you an idea of the level of aggravation I was going through. Anyone who came along and said they could remove those steps for me would win my business.

You want to use this knowledge for project prioritization.

The variables

1. Understand the level of aggravation

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how aggravating is having to set reminders or remember to send emails at specific times?”

You want to know how painful something is. For me, it was a 10! That’s what you’re looking for.

When the score is low, or, in other words, the pain level is low, you want to move along to something else.

Luke warn may make people happy, but it does not have the same impact. You want to push the margins when coming up with solutions.

Let’s call this score LEVEL_OF_AGGRAVATION.

2. Discover the current solutions available

If the pain level is high enough and if there are no available solutions, then you’re gold.

If there are a handful of solutions available but they’re terrible, you’re gold.

If the current solutions are more or less what you would make and they do a good job at solving people’s problems, then you you’ll need to rethink whether it’s worth the effort.

What you want to do is grade the solutions. Since this is based on intuition it’s sometimes a good idea to run it past customers or the typical user of your service.

Pick 1-3 solutions and ask yourself or customers:

On a scale from 1 to 10, how well does solution x meet your needs?

Let’s call this score SATISFACTION_LEVEL.

Now let’s do something with these numbers.

Here’s the formula


A perfect score

10 – 1 = 9

An okay score

7 – 2 = 5

A terrible score

3 – 9 = -6

That’s it! You now have a number you can use to help with project prioritization.

Photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash

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