How to Prioritize Your Product Backlog Items
What is product backlog prioritization?
Prioritization is to decide the order of completion of backlog items. Prioritization and sequencing (forced prioritization) supports in defining the flow of development. Effective prioritization uses highest business values of backlog items. Prioritization also maximizes return on investment by delivering high business features. Four factors which mostly affect prioritization are business value, dependency, complexity and size, risk.
MoSCoW Model (Must, Should, Could, Won’t)
# 1: Prepare your story cards
I assume that you have your stories written in a granular way. If not try to negotiate with your Product Owner or business team to write your user stories aligned with INVEST model. All stories should have enough clarity supported by acceptance criteria. Sometimes you may get challenge in getting stories in right Story format. Now write down all user stories in physical cards with story points and acceptance criteria written over it (if space on cards permits). Spread those stories over a wall or a table.
# 2: Group related stories
The next step is to making a group of all related stories which need to be delivered as a package to maximize business value. This activity usually done by product-owner and scrum team. Sometimes stories from different EPIC’s/Features relates closely with other. Development team and product owner debate on sequencing those groups by considering the equal nature of works and level of complexity.
# 3: Define dependencies for each group
Now, scrum team finds execution level dependencies between groups as well within groups by considering various components. Here team prepare a sequence list of user story groups as well sequence stories within a group. Most dependent entities are kept next to each other during this sequencing. Both development team and product owner also debate on maximizing business values by delivering top priority features during early phases of execution.
#4: Label each story with MoSCoW
Must feature: It adds highest business value and highest ROI
Should feature: It adds lower business value and high ROI
Could feature: It adds lower business value and lower ROI
Won’t feature: It adds NO business value and ROI
# 5: Regroup stories using MoSCoW & dependencies
During this phase, all stories are re-prioritized again based on dependencies and Must labels. If a story is not related to any of other stories in that group, then the story is pulled out and assigned a new group. MoSCoW model helps prioritizing stories at finer level.
# 6: Prepare priority list of groups on business value
During this, development team and product owner prepare a sequence of groups based on high business value and low dependencies with other groups.
# 7: Prepare sequence of stories within a group
During this step product owner gathers inputs from development team on complexity, size and dependencies and prepare a final sequence list of user stories.
# 8: Provide ranks to each stories in a group.
Ranking helps in assigning a unique number for each stories. Tools helps in automatically assigning a rank to every story.
# 9: Prepare a final order list of stories
Maximum ROI, Minimum dependency
Technique 2 – Relative Story Weight
This is a technique used by a product owner to rank product backlog items. This technique use “Relative Value” and ” Relative Cost” to calculate priority of a story. As illustrated in the graph, relative priorities are calculated by greatest value it return on investment.