Tips for Prioritization
But how to prioritize business and project requirements? This is a tricky problem, as all of your stakeholders will have different sets of priorities. In general, there are three key stakeholder groups. First is the business sponsor or business owner; they are the ones paying the bill for the project, so they rightly get a say in the priorities. The second group is the end user. Sometimes, you can have a representative from the user community available; other times you’ll need to identify someone to act as a proxy. The third group is the internal team. This could be the IT staff, the development team, etc. Each of these three classes of folks has varying degrees of input into the prioritization of requirements. There is a fourth group of folks like legal, contracts, partners, and other third-parties, but I’m going to leave them out of this discussion.
The good news is that having three different stakeholder groups is not all that unwieldy. They key is to getting each group represented by one person each. If you can manage that, prioritization works just like any other prioritization exercise. First, you can get a quick sensing by asking for “As, Bs, and Cs" from each person. Things that are all As are in, things that are all Cs are out. Easy enough. But that’s not all you need to do. Merely identifying all the “As" won’t get us what we need. We need to know which of the requirements is first, which is second, etc.
But now that we’ve gotten all the low priority items off the board, we are left with a pure stack-ranking exercise. That is, each requirement needs to be compared against all the others and ranked in order. This can be done using voting, using affinity diagrams, or perhaps by trying to put a dollar value on each requirement, and sorting by absolute value. It actually doesn’t matter which metric you wind up using; what is important is that you use one that you all agree upon.
What does matter is that you leave the room with a pure, ranked list of prioritized user stories. With that in hand, deciding what to do first is the easiest part of the job.
by Mai Le