Prioritising the Product Backlog using Kano Analysis

In an Agile project the Product Owner’s most critical job is to prioritise the backlog considering there is high risk associated with building the wrong product. Regardless of how good and fast your technical team is, or DevOps, CICD is in place and testing is immaculate, you still need to ensure that you are building the right product.

The product backlog prioritisation is dependent upon several factors and taking into account the cost of building the feature (and also cost of not building the feature called as CD3). I shall be writing about these financial factors in some other blog. Here I wanted to share the innovative and logical way to analyse the features, the Kano Analysis.

Professor Noriaki Kano from Japan created the Kano Model in 1984 while studying the contributing factors to customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. The professor classified 5 unique categories of customer requirements which can be used to analyse the features and get the priority.

The features can be classified according to their quality:

  1. Attractive quality
  2. One-Dimensional quality
  3. Indifferent quality
  4. Must-be quality
  5. Reverse quality


  • Attractive quality – Surprise and delighters

– Valuable to users but maybe not to purchasers if they are different

– Today’s Attractor is tomorrow’s Must-be

  • One-dimensional quality – more is better

– Needs to be quantified – ‘minimum’ and ‘maximum’ are too vague

– What about diminishing returns?

  • Indifferent quality – customer doesn’t care

– So why bother?

  • Must-be quality – expected by the customer

– Minimum usable subset, minimum marketable feature set

  • Reverse quality – Some customers prefer the reverse

– Not all users are the same e.g. too many features confuse some people


In order to explain above I can use an analogy to mobile phones.

Mobile phone features

Attractive quality – Curved screens, fancy apps etc

One-Dimensional quality – more internet bandwidth

Indifferent quality – what processsor chip is used

Must-be quality – must be able to make call

Reverse quality – some customers want a simple phone which just does calls


The Kano Model suggests the customer satisfaction for the given quality attributes as below:

The important points that the PO needs to keep in mind are 1) what delighted customers in the past is now expected and 2) what is expected today will not meet minimum customer expectations in the future.

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