4 Product Backlog Prioritization Techniques That Work – Perforce


When it comes to managing your product backlog, prioritization is key. But with so many items to address, how do you determine which ones to tackle first? In this article, we’ll explore four effective techniques for product backlog prioritization that will help you make informed decisions.

Technique 1: Stack Ranking

Stack ranking is a straightforward method that involves evaluating each backlog item and placing them in order of priority. You start with the most important item and continue down the list until you’ve ranked them all. One of the advantages of stack ranking is that it eliminates the confusion of having multiple high-priority items. By comparing each item relative to the others, you can establish a clear and accurate hierarchy.

Technique 2: Kano Model

The Kano model, developed by Professor Noriaki Kano, categorizes features based on customer needs and expectations. It classifies items into five thresholds: Must-be, Attractive, One-Dimensional, Indifferent, and Reverse. Must-be features are essential and expected by customers, while Attractive features bring happiness when present but don’t disappoint when absent. One-Dimensional features create satisfaction when included, and Indifferent features have no impact on satisfaction. Reverse features, on the other hand, actually make customers unhappy when present. Using the Kano model helps ensure that your product includes a balanced mix of customer-focused features.

Technique 3: MoSCoW Method

The MoSCoW method, devised by data scientist Dai Clegg, is widely used in Agile software development. This method categorizes backlog items into four groups: Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won’t Have. Must Have features are crucial for the success and viability of your product, while Should Have items are important but not essential. Could Have features are desirable but less critical than Should Have items. Won’t Have items are agreed upon not to be delivered at the moment but may be considered in the future if necessary. The MoSCoW method allows you to prioritize items based on their importance and impact on your product.

Technique 4: Cost of Delay

The cost of delay is a concept emphasized by lean thought leader Donald Reinertsen. It quantifies the cost incurred for each feature by delaying its delivery. By comparing the cost of delay with other factors such as implementation effort, you can determine the priority of each item. The cost of delay can be measured in various ways, including monetary value, reputation, or story points. Considering factors such as linear cost of delay, fixed date, intangible consequences, and expedite needs, you can make informed decisions about which features to prioritize.


Prioritizing your product backlog is essential for effective product management. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, these four techniques – stack ranking, Kano model, MoSCoW method, and cost of delay – provide valuable frameworks for making informed decisions. Experiment with these techniques, learn from your experience, and refine your prioritization process over time. By doing so, you’ll be able to deliver a successful product that meets customer needs and expectations.

Learn about prioritizing a product backlog and more in Hansoft

Learn about prioritizing a product backlog and more in

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