Prioritisation by Value and WSJF

Basic

difficulty

Stage 2

Agile IQ® Level

Prioritisation

Practices

SAFe®

Framework

Introduction

Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) is a prioritization model used to sequence jobs (eg., Features, Capabilities, and Epics) to produce maximum economic benefit. In SAFe, WSJF is estimated as the Cost of Delay (CoD) divided by job size.

In his book, Principles of Product Development Flow, Reinertsen describes a comprehensive model, called WSJF, for prioritising work based on the economics of Lean product development flow. WSJF is calculated by dividing the Cost of Delay (CoD) by the duration. The cost of delay is assessed by its impact, and can include:

  • The opportunity cost of having something now versus getting it later.
  • The impact of waiting.
  • Reputational damage due to missed deadlines.
  • The magnitude of value not delivered to customers because a critical opportunity has been missed.
  • Decrease in customer trust.

Cost of Delay is calculated by assessing the impact of not having something when you, your customers or stakeholders, need it. As a typical example, this might be the cost incurred while waiting to deliver a solution that improves efficiency. It is the opportunity cost between having the same thing now or getting it later.

Josh Arnold

Prioritisation

Epics and Features are assessed against each Weighted Shorted Job First (WSJF) and are typically scored relative to each other on a T-Shirt Size or Fibonacci scale. Relative sizing means Features are compared to other Features, not sized on a linear scale of 1-10.

For example, if Feature A scores a “business value” of size “L”, and another Feature B will deliver an order of magnitude greater value than A, then Feature B is sized as an “XL”.

WSJF helps avoid

HIPPO

Decisions made solely because a person is the manager/ highest paid person in the room

Squeaky wheel

Making decisions because someone has complained or their voice is ‘loudest’

ROI only

Decisions made solely due to financial considerations, e.g. it’s cheaper

Download

Download this PDF poster by SAFe SPCs Matthew Hodgson and Mia Horrigan that outlines WSJF and breaks down the three key areas of “business Value”, “Time Criticality” and “Opportunity Enablement”.

References

Reinertsen, Donald (2009). The Principles of Product Development Flow. ISBN 1-935401-00-9.

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