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The Best Prioritization Tools & Methods for Product Managers

November 22, 2019

Looking for more efficient ways to manage projects or teams in agency life? We’ve talked to our team of experienced product managers to learn more about the best tools and methodologies to lead cross-functional teams and keep everyone on pace with your product’s strategy. This article will discuss some of those top resources with pointers on how to most effectively use them.


#1 Jira (Tool)

Taken directly from the Jira website.

If you’re the product manager of an agile team, you can’t miss this tool. Jira is one of the best project management tools out there to help teams plan, track, and release software. Regardless of the agile planning methodology you follow (Scrum, Kanban, etc.), the features in Jira are flexible, making it a great piece of software for most all product teams to use.


For our team at Crema, Jira is ultimately where work happens and where the prioritization needs to be reflected. Having the ability to keep a backlog in the proper, prioritized order makes planning a breeze! With everything up-to-date and prioritized chronologically, our team members can quickly pick up a task from the top of the backlog or the upcoming sprint if they run out of work early.


Jira is also a great tool to prioritize the work you’re doing on more of an ongoing basis, as Jira gives you the ability to quickly move issues around as needed and create upcoming sprints to show where the work will actually fall based on velocity. If you’re not familiar with Jira, we encourage you to check out their site to learn more.


#2 Miro (Tool)

Taken directly from the Miro website.


Looking for better ways to facilitate and capture your team’s collaborative efforts? Try Miro! This virtual white board allows you to create, collaborate, and centralize communication across your company. In the tool, you can very quickly move note cards around into whatever prioritization framework you’re using based on the client/stakeholder need.


Prioritizing in Miro is great for larger strategy & alignment sessions, where you’re likely looking at the work from a macro level. It’s also helpful for asynchronous teams to quickly and effectively collaborate and rank priorities. If you’d like for the ranking to take place anonymously, there’s the option to do so.


In our opinion, Miro helps visualize the work that needs to be done in a more dimensional way than Jira. It also has a robust Jira integration, so you can pull in all issues that need to be prioritized, and even update them along the way.


#3 MoSCoW (Methodology)

Originally posted on railsware.com

One of the best ways to prioritize tasks with stakeholders is using what’s called the MoSCoW method. The acronym “MoSCoW” stands for Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won’t Have. When your team is facing limited resources with a large number of tasks to tackle, the MoSCoW method can help the stakeholder prioritize those tasks in order of importance.


Here’s how it works. Once you’ve pulled in the stories from Jira, or maybe just completed a story mapping exercise, you’ll draw four horizontal lines and begin categorizing each story into one of the four MoSCoW categories described below:


  • Must Haves include anything that’s absolutely critical.
  • Should Haves include anything that’s important, but could be held back to a later release.
  • Could Haves are another way to think of “nice-to-haves” that could be added to a later release. (These are typically things that would improve the experience for the end user but aren’t critical to success.)
  • Won’t Haves aren’t things that won’t ever happen, rather, they’re just not worth exploring any time soon. (These are the things you wouldn’t work into a sprint, even if time allowed.)


Oftentimes, stakeholders think they need everything to release. However, that’s not actually the case when you begin asking them what’s really important. This exercise also removes the high/medium/low priority language and forces them to think about what’s critical.

#4 Confluence (Tool)

Taken directly from the Confluence website.

This Atlasssian content collaboration tool is an amazing addition to Jira. It answers the call and the need that all product teams have: where are we going to keep our documentation?  Within Confluence, content is created and organized using spaces, pages, and blogs. The kinds of documentation you can systematize within the tool has a wide range - from meeting notes to planning out features, ideas, etc.


Confluence also has incredible integration capabilities, which is fantastic for product managers, as it makes it infinitely easier to spin up a status dashboard to keep the team or clients up to date on all things product related. You can fully customize and incorporate different features to fulfill a wide variety of needs.

Conclusion

Finding the right software or online resources to fit the exact needs of your team can be difficult, but we’re confident that the tools we’ve compiled here are a great place to start for any and all digital product managers out there. It’s certainly not an exhaustive list, but everything included in this article has a unique function that is almost guaranteed to ease one of your processes as a PM.


We hope you’ve found something useful to take away to your home team! For more content on product management and our take on some other commonly used tools for PMs, check out our product management YouTube channel.