Product Roadmap Prioritization: Weighted Scoring or the Kano Model? [+Webinar]

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Product Prioritization

Product Prioritization in Product Management is the process of determining the importance of various features and steps along the process of product creation. Having a standard framework for prioritizing your product roadmap can be invaluable to help you make smart decisions that ultimately lead to product and company successes.

For a more in-depth look on product roadmap prioritization, watch our on-demand webinar, 5 Secrets to Prioritizing Your Product Roadmap (The Right Way!) with Tom Evans and Jim Semick.

Deciding which features end up on your roadmap (and which features don’t) is one of the most important decisions product managers face. There are several ways to go about it. In this article, I’d like to talk about two methods: weighted scoring and the Kano model.

Prioritizing Your Product Roadmap: Two Methods

The weighted scoring model is popular among product management professionals and there is a growing awareness of the Kano model.

The weighted scoring model, while built on a combination of data points and educated guesses, is an attempt to bring objectivity to your product roadmap prioritization. Kano product management tries to focus more on the intangible benefits that specific features or initiatives will bring to customers.

Either model can work well in the right circumstances. And in some cases it might be worth trying both frameworks to help you prioritize your product roadmap.

The Weighted Scoring Model

Weighted Scoring Model

The weighted scoring model is a framework that helps you prioritize a list of items using criteria of varying importance. It is popular among product management professionals for deciding which features end up on the product roadmap and which don’t. The weighted scoring model, while built on a combination of data points and educated guesses, is an attempt to bring objectivity to your product roadmap prioritization.

With a weighted scoring approach, you take your proposed features or initiatives, rank each of them using a benefit-versus-cost framework on a number of criteria, and then step back and use the scores you’ve come up with to decide which initiatives make the cut.

As you can see in the screenshot below, a sample weighted scoring page from our product roadmap software, you can use whatever criteria makes sense for your product and company objectives when evaluating contending initiatives against each other for prioritization on your roadmap.

In terms of potential benefits, for example, you can use real-world data — or, if you don’t have that at hand, educated guesses — to score an initiative on its ability to increase revenue, or to add customer value or value to the company itself. In terms of costs, you can evaluate an initiative on its complexity or level of difficulty to implement, or its hard-dollar operational costs, or even the risk it will fall flat with customers.

The point with the weighted scoring model is to quantify, to the best of your ability, each competing initiative on your list to help you prioritize the product roadmap.

Note: Whatever format or roadmap prioritization tool you use to build a weighted scoring model, I recommend you make the final output as visual as possible.

This will make it easier for you and your team to clearly see the entire landscape of possible items for the roadmap. It will also make it easier for you, when presenting your roadmap to executives and other stakeholders, to visually explain why you made the prioritization decisions you made.

Sample feature prioritization matrix in Product Plan’s weighted scoring Product Roadmap Software
Sample feature prioritization matrix in ProductPlan’s Product Roadmap Software


The Kano Model

Kano Prioritization Technique

In the Kano Prioritization Technique you evaluate features for their impact on the customer’s emotions in an attempt to find features that will delight your customers. This is in contrast to the Weighted Scoring Model which attempts to prioritize objectively across a wide variety of prioritization criteria.

Unlike the weighted scoring approach, where you assign quantitative values to each initiative to help make prioritization decisions more clinical and objective, the Kano model lets you view competing initiatives with a much more subjective eye.

Indeed, the Kano model is often explained as measuring product function against customer delight.

When prioritizing your product roadmap using the Kano model, you break out potential features into a series of categories, described below, and then weigh each in terms of its necessity versus its ability to delight. You’ll see a visual representation of the Kano approach in the graph below.

kano model graph with customer delight and product function

First, there are the threshold (basic) features. These are the features that have to be in your product. Your customers will expect them. Your competitors have them. They’re necessary.

But that doesn’t mean you need to continually invest a great deal of time, resources and development cycles into them. That’s because over time, you will experience diminishing returns in terms on the all-important “customer delight” from these threshold features.

Next, there are performance features. These are the features, for example, that make existing products faster and run more smoothly. If you put more investment in time and resources into performance features, this effort will in fact result in a linear, or proportionate, increase in customer delight.

But it’s important to understand that, like the threshold features, performance features are also somewhat defensive investments. In other words, you continue to invest in them at least in part because if you don’t your competitors will catch up with you.

Finally, there are the excitement features. These are the viscerally exciting elements of your product, the “wow” features — the things that your users will love and even tell their colleagues and friends about. And ironically, these are features your customers might not ever ask for — or even know they want.

This is where expertise will be so valuable — truly understanding your key personas and the problems they face. If you can include these excitement features — and they hit the mark with customers — your product will enjoy a disproportionate amount of customer delight.

Conclusion: Both the Weighted Scoring and Kano Model Can Work for Your Product Roadmap Prioritization.

A large part of a product manager’s job is making difficult choices about what makes it into the product — and what languishes (possibly forever) on the backlog.

Having a standard framework for prioritizing your product roadmap can be invaluable to help you make smart decisions that ultimately lead to product and company successes. The prioritization method you choose will depend on your product, your organization’s culture, and your product management style. Both the weighted scoring and Kano model work well in the right circumstances — as do the other approaches we explain in our product roadmap book.

Watch the Webinar On-Demand

Product Roadmap prioritization – the effort can make even the best Product Manager groan. While it is critical to your success, and so exciting to build a plan for the future, it’s a daunting task. It can be complicated and frustrating because there is no single right answer, and everyone, internal and external stakeholders alike, has an opinion or thinks they know the right answer. No matter what you propose, it will be heavily debated and perhaps even changed by senior executives. So, how can you ease the pain of prioritization and stick to your guns (despite executive “meddling”) to produce a product roadmap that you can be proud of? Join our webinar to learn how.

This article originally published in May 2016, updated in September 2020.

Meet the Author


Jim Semick is co-founder of ProductPlan, a leading provider of product roadmap software. For over 15 years he has helped launch new products now generating hundreds of millions in revenue. He was part of the founding team at AppFolio, a vertical SaaS company. Prior to AppFolio, Jim validated and helped launch GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting (acquired by Citrix). Jim is a frequent speaker on product management and the process of discovering successful business models. He contributes at Follow Jim at @JimSemick.

16 Replies to “Product Roadmap Prioritization: Weighted Scoring or the Kano Model? [+Webinar]”

  • Hey,

    Thank you for sharing this awesome article. Product prioritization also known as Benefit vs. Cost, this framework prioritizes features or initiatives based on shared cost-benefit criteria. One of the best resources I’ve ever come across.

  • Hi, Nice artcile.

    However, i do have a clarification,
    How did u arrive at the final score in weighted score approach eg: 72,84, 96 etc). I would love to know the maths behind arriving at a final. Simple benefit minus cost will not give the mentioned scores.

    • Hi Prateek,
      Here’s an example of how the scoring works…

      In the Benefit section, if every column’s weighting is 20, and the item’s score is 1, that gets 20% of the 20 possible points (4 points). The second column score is 4, so that gets 80% of the 20 possible points (16 points). The third column score is 2, so that gets 40% of the 20 possible points (8 points).

      In the Cost section, a low number affects the score positively (reverse of the Benefit calculation). In the first Cost column the score is 2, so that gets 80% of the 20 possible points (16). The second column score is 4, so that gets 40% of the 20 possible points (8 points). The third column score is 1, so that gets the maximum of the 20 possible points (20 points).

      Adding up the points (4,16,8,16,8,20) you get a score of 72.

      Hope that helps!

  • Thank you for the clear explanation in your article. I’d like to agree that both scoring systems may definitely work for roadmap prioritization. As for my needs and goals, the Weighted Scoring for prioritization looks better. I use the Weighted Scoring framework in – the product and project management tool with built-in prioritization frameworks for Agile teams ( ). The platform allows evaluating features by own criteria. You may also find ICE and RICE scoring systems there.
    I appreciate that using this prioritization approach, I can take all product features and initiatives, rank them on a number of criteria, and then use the scores to decide which initiatives make the cut. Looks perfect!

  • Hi Jim, thanks for this article. To me, Kano model is more useful in a new product launch when market is crowded & very hard to have a differentiated product for winning market share. Scorecard makes more sense to established brands with significant market share but are facing new competition. Prioritising value propositions & messaging them to loyal customers can be the strategy arrived at by using scorecard method.
    Many thanks!

    • Thanks for your thoughts! Interesting to think of Kano for new product launches – that makes sense to me as a way of working through ways to differentiate a product competitively.

      • Most of the methodologies I have read assume you are sat there with all the changes and new ideas in front of you and want to rank them against certain criteria. In reality, in large organisations, new ideas and change requests come along all through the year from many different directions and you have to decide where they sit in the list of priorities as they come in. So, scoring one small change and deciding if to park it, or add it to a future release, is more difficult in isolation.

        • My approach has always been that when new requests come in I capture them and then every few weeks evaluate them using the prioritization criteria against the previous requests. If you are doing Agile then you can do this when you do the next backlog prioritization, and with waterfall or stage/gate when you are updating the roadmap or planning the next larger release.

  • Both scorecard and Kano approaches to prioritizing have a severe shortcoming: they distract from the unique value proposition, the core of the product strategy that should drive all product decisions.

    When you choose a unique value proposition and associated product strategy, you’re already making decisions about what will maximize revenue, what will surprise and delight, which segments you’re targeting, and what is valuable to them.

    Rating individual feature ideas on these criteria – whether using a scorecard or using the Kano model – ignores and distracts from the product strategy decisions you’ve already made. I delved into this topic in detail on my blog entry on why spreadsheets suck for prioritizing:

    In the blog entry, I also explained why the temptation to use scoring methods for prioritizing individual items often indicates organizational dysfunction or a product strategy void.

  • After pricing, prioritization is probably the most difficult task facing the product manager, because different stakeholders have different priorities. In addition, the available market research is usually insufficient. So an effective and accepted prioritization comes down to incorporating everyone’s subjective views in a process that is transparent and everyone can participate in.

    The Kano model is an excellent way to understand if a planned product has MVP and some differentiators.

    • Thanks for your comment Phil. I agree that the Kano model is a great way to incorporate subjective views and help stakeholders wrap their heads around the prioritization process. The conversation product managers have with executives and stakeholders is often more productive if you can give them a framework for discussion (whether that’s an objective scoring model, the Kano model, or another framework).

  • Very interesting article Jim. Are you able to shed some more light on how the Kano model is used to determine a priority order as is the case with the weighted priority model? Would initiatives be scored against each of the three categories (basic, performance, excitement) with a corresponding multiplier (logarithmic, linear and exponential) and therefore enable a more rational prioritisation approach accounting for the diminishing or explosive value of each category?

    • Thanks Steve! I think of the Kano model as more of a framework for positioning potential features, rather than an objective scoring model. It’s a great way to position features during a discussion with stakeholders – helping them understand why you might want to continuously improve performance for example, or helping justify a needle-moving feature that customers may not even know they want. Trying to assign a multiplier or score is difficult in these contexts. I’d be interested in hearing if others have used the Kano model in an objective scoring model.

    • The Kano model is a different axis than priority but informs it. My experience has been that a release that is just basic/performance, keeping up with competitors, will fall flat in the market. You need a balanced portfolio that has some delighters/ excitement for a product release to be attractive and viable.

      Often, just the fact that you are looking for delighters causes the product team to think a bit harder to be innovative.

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