Buy a feature: as a team, prioritize the features you want to develop


Buy a Feature

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The “Buy a feature” template is part of the Innovation Games® collection, which aims to help companies prioritize the development of new features for their products, websites or apps. This fun workshop is based on a negotiation involving key stakeholders with differing interests. It stimulates discussion and debate among the participants. As a team, explain what drives your choices, so that everyone understands the decision-making processes and can find common ground. At the end of the workshop, you will be able to prioritize your feature purchases. 

What is Buy a feature? 

It’s an agile management method based on pretending to “purchase” features, with a view to deciding, as a team, which should be developed first. This fun negotiation workshop allows the team to decide which particular features should be developed rather than others, by involving all the team members in the decision-making process. The same workshop can be used to develop a concept, a product or service.

Derived from Luke Hohmann’s Innovation Games® collection, “Buy a feature” aims to boost teamwork, decision-making and action, and is therefore suited to many different contexts and uses. 

The Buy a feature rules 

The workshop is broken down into several stages:

  • Listing the features and their prices: the facilitator draws up a comprehensive list of features requiring team input, and their “price”. The sum of the features’ prices equals the total cost, which is posted on the Board. 

  • Inviting the team members: before launching the workshop, you need to convene all the project stakeholders. The group should include various types of expertise, with differing interests. The Board can be shared in just one click. Then show the team your list of features.

  • Budget allocation: all members are allocated an equal share of dummy money.  

  • Negotiation: this phase is the central part of the workshop. Each team member is invited to spend their “money” and buy the available features, while keeping within their budget. 

The point is that with the amount allocated to them, team members cannot buy all the features. They need to manage their purchases. This means that they have to prioritize their choices. 

Some team members can decide to buy a feature jointly by pooling their money. This means that one of the items must cost more than any one person can afford, so that team members have to work together to make the purchase.

  • Prioritizing features being developed: once the team members have completed their purchases, they discuss their choices and assess the relevance of the various concepts and characteristics in terms of perceived benefits. The most popular features are then included in the list of future features to develop. 

Why use the Buy a feature workshop, and what are the benefits? 

By providing members with limited resources, represented by the virtual currency, they are forced into a process of negotiation and compromise. As a result, decisions are based on what the team members really need, since they can pick features and leave others to one side. They gradually come round to choosing those they believe will provide the most added value for the company.  

Ask questions, to understand what has prompted team members to make their final choice. By making concessions, members have probably discarded features that are not necessarily key in the design phase.  

With the “Buy a feature” template, project players who are not usually in the same team, come together around the Board and have to stand up for their often conflicting interest in purchasing certain features. The final decision is made following interaction and debate. It is enlightened and objective as it serves a common goal rather than an individual one. By using this method, you can record direct comments, monitor the decision-making process and get players to talk to each other. 

Note: since the Buy a feature game is used to pick and prioritize the features that are of most value to customers, you can also involve them directly! Bringing customers into the equation, along with the other stakeholders involved, gives an insight into what they like most and helps you become more efficient.  

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