Prioritization Notes

The best ideas on how to make a decision on what to do next


Never forget to nurture your backlog. Task storage doesn’t interfere—false. It drags the team’s efficiency down. Regular collaborative refinements and re-evaluation is the key to success.

Backlog Grooming
Backlog Grooming

Items review on the backlog to ensure it contains only appropriate ones.

Timing options:
  1. End sprint.
  2. Mid sprint.
  3. On an ad-hoc basis.
  1. Refresh what your roadmap and goals state for the product.
  2. Get relevant input from stakeholders.
  3. Prioritize the backlog and decide which stories must be discussed.
  4. Limit the meeting up to 45min with about 15min per story.
  5. Explain each story's relevance providing data.
  6. Decide if to work on or delete the stories.
  7. Send follow up notes to clear up any ambiguity on the decisions.
  8. Inform stakeholders of potential blockers and impact on timelines.
  9. Set-up break-out meetings to discuss big ticket items if needed.
Backlog Items Estimation
Backlog Items Estimation
  • Estimate complexity instead of time/effort.
  • Compare; don’t estimate absolute values.
  • Use sequences for estimation.
  • Block the influences to avoid biased estimates.
  • Estimate by the whole team.
Do not estimate:
  • The entire backlog—only the things on top of it.
  • Sub-tasks—doesn’t add relevant understanding of items.
  • Repetitive items with a higher estimate.
  • Unfinished items from last sprint—re-evaluate in case of big context changes.
Backlog Prioritization
Backlog Prioritization

Organization of the backlog items to set their development sequence.

Collaborative workshop principles:
  1. Start prioritization with Users/Business insights to refine the OKRs.
  2. Introduce and evaluate each criterion separately to avoid abstract discussions.
  3. Agree on follow-up activities to keep prioritization an ongoing iterative process.
Task Re-evaluation
Task Re-evaluation

Scores discard and reiterated assessment over time.

  1. Set the score expiration period—depends on sprints and user context update.
  2. Set the re-evaluation deadline—must be ready before sprint planning.
  3. Set the team reminders—must be done regularly by the whole team.
  1. Shared understanding.
  2. Priorities actualization.
  3. Meeting time reduction.

Weighted Shortest Job First used to sequence jobs (eg., Features, Capabilities, and Epics) to produce maximum economic benefit.

WSJF = Cost of Delay / Job Size

Cost of Delay = User-business value + Time criticality + Risk reduction-opportunity enablement value

Scale each parameter with Fibonacci row (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21).

How to choose a prioritization framework?

Not sure what to choose? Download our prioritization frameworks guide with questions, examples and useful links. Explore it in hi-res PNG, PDF or interactive Miro Board.