“Real World” Strategies for Prioritizing Requirements #SVPCAMP

“Real World” Strategies for Prioritizing Requirements and Product Backlogs

Greg Cohen
280 Group LLC

Techniques for assessing value
Mitigating Risk
Mitigating Costs
Impact of time on priority

“Prioritize Requirements by Business Value”
Makes sense and we want things to create value
But doing it is harder than identifying the issues

Business Value
Improve the product or service for the customer (in alignment with business strategy)
Increase/protect revenue
Decrease/prevent cost
Maintain compliance

Must also balance risk/cost
Increase value over time

Challenges with prioritizing
Determine business value
Value is often realized by a collection of features (one bit is harder to show value)
Value determination usually requires judgement
Much of the wisdom is locked in individual’s heads (biases but isn’t articulated)

Techniques to Assess Value
1. ROI – to your business and your customer 
Q: Sometimes the measure is hard to measure, then what?
A: You may need to use another tool.
2. Customer Research
In depth interviews, focus groups, observation, innovation games, usability studies, support cases, usage and click stream data, surveys
3. Market Opportunity Scores
What is important? (what are users trying to accomplish
How satisfied are they? (is it enjoyable)
4. Kano Model
How does a solution not meet/meet a need?
How well does a solution leave the user dissatisfied/satisfied? 
Creates curves to show opportunities – Must haves, Performance, Delighters, 
Time pushes scores down
Q: How do you pick what goes into the releases?
A: Plot the features out on the model to understand what goes where. 

Q: What do you do if your business is so far behind the others?
A: There is a fast follow model. You need to find a way to be a differentiator.

Q: How would you influence customer must-have to transition to a delighter?
A: Difficult to do, perhaps through marketing. But the model isn’t designed to do that.

5. Buying Features
Buy a feature – Create list of features, play with 4-7 customers at a time, Price some features so customers have to pool money
Q: Do you look at individual users?
A: This is group methodology. 
Spend $100 of R&D – Create list of features, ask customer to allocate R&D budget to list of features

6. Subjective Value Determination
Set a vision for the product and place each requirement in the context of the vision
– Get stakeholder participation to unlock collective knowledge
– Prioritization Matrix is good for weighting priorities across existing and new customers

Mitigating Risk
Types – Technical, market, regulatory, delay
Weigh – What can be tolerated on a project, organization, etc.
Practice risk-first development – give priority to requirements that have risk

Let the team work with technical pay-off
– early learning and maximize understanding

Evolution of features
Identify phase of lifecycle for feature area
– Validate the learning
– Minimal marketable feature – what is the minimun required to work
Apply Kano model
– must have features to work
– Performance (enjoyment)
– Delighters (wow customers)

Moving risk to the front

High risk, new regulation, maintenance upgrades, microprocessor 
Risk, Return Cost View
Low Risk <–> High Risk
Low Return <–> High Return (vertical axis)

Prioritization is complicated
Balance return, cost and risk
Mitigate project risk

Q: How do you sell priorities to stakeholders?
A: Hopefully rational explanation will work. Can be hard.

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