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Untitled-3451Ah, Story Points—Ron Jeffries' brainchild from the XP days. They're like the dance moves everyone learned but might be doing slightly wrong. We've seen them everywhere, sometimes misused or wielded like an odd dance prop by bosses.

Think of Story Points as the rhythm in our agile dance—helpful for estimating effort, but it's not the only move on the dance floor. Just like a dance routine needs more than just rhythm, our decision-making in agile work demands more than Story Points. We're talking about a whole mixtape of considerations: business value, dependencies, and the grand strategic impact of tasks.

Using Story Points alone is like listening to just the beat of a song—it's catchy, but you're missing out on the lyrics, the melody, and the guitar solo. Let's ditch the one-track mind and embrace a playlist of criteria for making smart decisions in our agile dance. After all, it's not just about nailing one move; it's about putting on a performance that rocks the entire stage.

Let's explore the intersection of Priority, Value, and Level of Effort, forming a dynamic landscape where strategic decisions come to life. Picture this like a lively Venn diagram dance, where each circle brings its groove to the party. As we unravel this dance, we'll sprinkle in some WSJF and RICE wisdom for that extra pizzazz.

Priority, Value, and Level of Effort: The Three Musketeers of Planning

  • Priority - The Urgency Maestro: Priority is all about urgency—what needs to be done pronto! These are your tasks with looming deadlines, dependencies, and the boss knocking on your virtual door.
  • Value - The Impact Virtuoso: Value is the rockstar of the group, measuring the importance and impact of your tasks. Think of it as the long-haired guitarist playing the chords of strategic success.
  • Level of Effort - The Workload Dynamo: Level of Effort is your drummer, setting the rhythm of resources, time, and complexity. Some tasks are a quick drum roll, while others are a full-blown percussion symphony.

The Jam Session: Where Circles Collide

  • Priority and Value Groove: These tasks scream, "Do me now!" but also hold strategic significance. Quick wins with a long-term impact are like the crowd-pleaser in your concert lineup.

  • Priority and Level of Effort Beat: Urgent tasks that might need extra rehearsal. Picture a drummer doing a solo while juggling flaming drumsticks—urgent and tricky.

  • Value and Level of Effort Harmony: The epic guitar solo that takes time to master. These tasks are strategically crucial but need a bit more TLC regarding resources. It's the sweet spot between the thrill of impact and the reality of effort.

  • Priority, Value, and Level of Effort Jam: This is the grand finale, where everything aligns. High-priority, high-value, and manageable effort—these tasks are like the fireworks at the end of a stellar concert. Pure magic!


Backstage Pass: Connecting with WSJF and RICE

In the grand symphony of project planning, where every note counts, it's crucial to acknowledge the multitude of factors that shape our decisions on what to tackle and when. It's like crafting the perfect mixtape for your agile journey. To bring a touch of objectivity to the decision-making dance, turn to formulas like WSJF and RICE. They're the musical scales that help you harmonize different tasks, ensuring that each note contributes to the overall melody of your prioritization process. So, when you find yourself juggling tasks and weighing them against each other, let WSJF and RICE be your trusty conductors, guiding you toward a crescendo of objective decision-making. 

WSJF Backstage Dive

WSJF loves the urgency and effort combo. It's like the rock concert organizer who knows that a killer performance needs both energy and skill.Cue the drums and hit the stage—it's time to talk about WSJF, the rockstar of prioritization frameworks in the agile world. WSJF, or Weighted Shortest Job First, is like crafting the perfect playlist for your project, considering the unique rhythm and energy of each task. WSJF stands for Weighted Shortest Job First, and it's a prioritization framework commonly used in agile and lean environments. Developed as part of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), WSJF helps teams and organizations make informed decisions about what work to tackle first based on a combination of factors.

The formula for WSJF is:


Let's break down the components:

  1. Business Value (BV): This represents the perceived value of the feature or task to the business. It helps prioritize work that aligns with organizational goals and strategic objectives.

  2. Time Criticality (TC): This factor considers how urgently the work needs to be done. Tasks with higher time criticality scores are prioritized to ensure timely delivery and response to market demands.

  3. Risk Reduction (RR): The level of risk associated with a task or feature is assessed. Tasks that contribute to risk reduction, whether in terms of technical uncertainty or market acceptance, are given higher priority.

  4. Job Size (JS): This refers to the size or effort required to complete the task. Generally, smaller tasks are favored as they can be completed more quickly, allowing for faster feedback and adaptation.

The WSJF formula encourages teams to consider not just the perceived value of a task but also its urgency, risk factors, and the effort involved. By calculating the weighted score for each task, teams can prioritize work in a way that maximizes overall value and minimizes time to market, creating a balanced and strategic approach to decision-making.

RICE Jam Session

Imagine planning your project like choreographing a dance or composing a song. Enter RICE—your groove guide in the world of product management. RICE, like a music score, harmonizes four key elements to create a prioritization melody that resonates with impact and efficiency. RICE is a prioritization framework commonly used in product management and project planning. The acronym stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort, and it helps teams assess and prioritize tasks or features based on a set of criteria. Developed by Intercom, RICE provides a structured approach to decision-making by considering various factors that contribute to the overall value of a task.

Making Agile Planning Your Own Jam Session

As we groove through the agile landscape, let's make this planning dance our own. Embrace the unpredictability, celebrate the urgency, and savor the sweet spot where priority, value, and effort collide. Whether you're following the rhythm of established frameworks or freestyling your own moves, remember: agile planning is not just a process; it's a jam session where every task plays a unique melody in the symphony of success. So, grab your air guitar, hit play on your favorite agile playlist, and let the planning party begin!

If you're struggling to prioritize your tasks and manage your projects effectively, our agile services can help. Our team of experts can guide you through the process and ensure that you're making the most of your resources. Contact us today to learn more and start your agile journey.

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