Prioritization Notes

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

Practice

It's not always necessary to reinvent the wheel to solve a problem. Use the experience of other companies to build your prioritization system. Increase the team's efficiency by using and customizing the best practices.

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.
Fast Task Prioritization

Accelerate prioritization with a well-established process.

Principles:
  1. Proper task description—state problem/result/comments.
  2. Clear criteria—customize framework criteria to be unequivocal to the team.
  3. Automation—use spreadsheets/tools to reduce manual work.
  4. Collaboration—involve the whole team in the evaluation to collect diverse opinions.
  5. Regularity—evaluate weekly, re-evaluate monthly.
Prioritizing Bug Fixes
Evaluate bugs by factors:
  • Likelihood—How many transactions (sessions) does the problem occur?
    Options: <1%  · 1% · <10%  · >10%
  • Severity—How bad is it if the problem does occur?
    Options: Obvious workaround available (OWA) · Non-obvious workaround available (N-OWA) · Important functionality unavailable (IFU).
3x4 Matrix Likelihood vs. Severity:
  • OWA + <1% → Very Low
  • OWA + 1% → Low
  • OWA + <10% → High
  • OWA + >10% → High
  • N-OWA + <1% → Low
  • N-OWA + 1% → Medium
  • N-OWA + <10%. → High
  • N-OWA + >10% → Very High
  • IFU + <1% → Medium
  • IFU + 1% → High
  • IFU + <10% → Very High
  • IFU + >10% → Very High
Task Re-evaluation

Scores discard and reiterated assessment over time.

Steps:
  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.
Benefits:
  1. Shared understanding.
  2. Priorities actualization.
  3. Meeting time reduction.
User Story Mapping

Visual exercise for prioritizing requirements in terms of customer value.

User story format: As a [type of user], I want to [action] so that [benefit].

Steps:
  1. Frame the problem—Define the customer problem.
  2. Define the user—Define your target audience.
  3. Map user activities—Outline the activities every user does.
  4. Map user stories—Break down each activity into user stories.
  5. Prioritize—Rank stories by importance top to bottom.
  6. Flow—Map the users flow through the product.
  7. Identify risks—Envision the potential user issues.
  8. Plan sprints/releases—Group stories by priority within each activity.
  9. Schedule the prioritized user stories into sprints/releases.
Value vs. Risk Matrix

2x2 matrix for prioritizing initiatives.

Risk options:
  • Schedule risk—Can’t be realized in time.
  • Cost risk—May cost more than allowed.
  • Functionality risk—Not able to implement.
Make two separate assessments of each initiative:
  • How much value will the initiative deliver?
    Scored: High Value / Low Value
  • How risky is the implementation?
    Scored: High Risk / Low Risk
Results:
  • High Value + Low Risk → Do First.
  • High Value + High Risk → Do Second.
  • Low Value + Low Risk → Do Last.
  • Low Value + High Risk → Avoid.
Weighted Scoring Model

Numerical scoring for prioritizing initiatives by multiple data layers.

Steps:
  1. List the initiatives under consideration.
  2. Devise a set of cost-vs-benefit criteria to score each initiative.
  3. Determine the weights of each criterion by their importance.
  4. Assign individual scores for each initiative by each criterion.
  5. Multiply each score by the criterion weight.
  6. Add up the results for each initiative.
  7. Rank initiatives by their total score.