Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Organisations have a vision of what they want to build and ideas for getting there. What they lack is a balance between capability (people, time, or money) and the demand to build everything.
The primary challenge? Deciding what to do next, considering the capability constraints.
Hence, it is critical to have prioritisation techniques and a product roadmap in place to help organisations rank potential development items considering the cost (monetary, opportunity) vs value (productivity, increase market adoption). Each project is different so different techniques can be applied for different types of work. For example at Reason we use different prioritisation techniques for design led projects vs tech led projects to help clients achieve their outcomes.
First we partner to understand:
- What problem are you trying to solve? Why are you building the product?
- What’s most important? Building the right thing, building it right, or building it fast?
- Who are the real stakeholders / customers? Who benefits from this product?
- What can get us learning fastest? Prototype / Wireframes / Customer research?
- How best to create a backlog that gives the most value
Here’s 2 of our favourite techniques for design led projects.
This helps prioritise work by categorising them according to their urgency and importance. Super simple. Super effective.
The second one we like is: ICE Scoring framework
It assigns a numerical value to different potential projects or ideas to prioritise them based on their relative value across three parameters:
- Impact: looks at how much the project will move the needle on the targeted metric.
- Confidence: the certainty that the project will have the predicted impact.
- Ease: looks at the level of effort to complete the project.
Each item evaluated gets a ranking from one to ten for each of the three values. The three elements of the equation are treated equally unlike weighted score techniques. Watch out! A consistent definition of the 1-10 scale for ranking each of the ICE elements is a prerequisite, else there will be inconsistent assessment by team members.
The drawback of this technique is that no 1 person will have enough information to predict all three elements accurately. Impact and Confidence are business considerations, Ease falls into the technical domain.
Here’s an example of what we do for Tech led projects:
- Define and visualise all possible technical tasks. This can cover everything from pre (discovery) to post (testing) development items relating to a brief.
- Estimate the required effort and timings for every task. Thus creating a picture of maximum effort for the team.
- Create multiple versions of recommended phases of delivery (release slicing)
- Present them to the stakeholders and negotiate which version fit best with their needs
- Agree to focus on the first release
The outcome we’re striving for here is a more solid agreement on the approach, capacity, dependencies, timings, and understanding of how we can help to deliver value.
What are your go to prioritisation techniques? Tell us in the comments.
Header image credit: Andy Wicks