Agile, specifically Scrum, draws work from the Backlog. The Product Owner works with stakeholders, customers, and others with interest in the product, learning of new features. The features get a place in the Backlog, but how is the decision made as to what gets the resources? With Agile and Scrum, you need a systemic way to prioritize features in the Backlog. The creation of an Agile prioritization matrix could be the problem solver you keep seeking.
Coming Up With a Weighting System
To be systemic in the way you prioritize the Backlog and choose which items to work, you need a weighting system. The establishment of a weighting system will help you place values, with a basis on criteria you put in place.
Let us go through a scenario where a Product Owner gets a slew of requests on features. All of the features, in his or her opinion, are important. So which is the one you work first? Which feature is going to get all of the resources? A weighting system will assist you in this.
You need first to establish criteria for which you will do weighting with. Criteria may be something along the lines of how technically possible a feature is to create, how appealing it is to an external or internal consumer, and how it aligns with the product’s overall vision. You will want at least two or three different criteria, with weighting that adds up to 100%.
Crafting of the Agile Prioritization Matrix
Now that you have criteria in place, you can begin to figure out where each of the features has a rank in the Agile prioritization matrix. You want to assign point values to each of the criteria for their respective features. Complete the application of point values for the full Backlog with each item receiving a point value, with a range basis the team creates. You could have a range that goes from zero to 4, for example.
Take a pass and assign a score to each of the three criteria for each feature. An example would be a UI enhancement where choosing a state was a free-form text box versus a drop down. Technically, this is an easy enhancement and would get a high score. With a basis on what stakeholders or consumers want, put the score where it makes sense. Now apply the weights and figure out what the real value is of that feature.
You will want to do the value calculation for each of the features in the Backlog. Completion of this practice will assist you so that you can have a matrix that has each feature, with their score against the overall weighting system you create. The result is you can easily compare one score to the next for each feature, and make a decision with that as your foundation.
An Agile prioritization matrix is a tool that can help eliminate the guesswork of a Product Owner and the whole Agile team. When you do not have to rely on just an opinion and have a factual basis to support decisions made in feature building, you can deliver more value incrementally than before. Take time to perfect the practice of creating an Agile prioritization matrix and see the benefits it has on your overall squad.