Last week when giving a Product Owner training class the discussion around how to prioritize got into an interesting direction. I will give you a summary of the discussion and ask for additional thoughts on this matter.
After presenting ideas on how to prioritize, like Theme Screening, Theme Scoring and Relative Weighting, an intelligent class participant brought up the thought that these were all examples of old ways of prioritizing. His opinion was that the successful companies of the last years probably does not use these ways of prioritizing. I think he might be on to something.
I will elaborate on this, and first I will give a short summary of the methods for prioritization I presented at the class.
Theme Screening and Theme Scoring
Based on selection criteria these methods are ways of making pairwise comparisons of themes to include in a release. Examples of selection criteria are: increasing competitiveness towards certain competitor, increasing revenue, increasing product quality, making the product easier to maintain.
In this method you use value and cost to determine prioritization of functionality. The interesting part is what is meant by value and cost respectively. Value is the sum of benefit of implementing a functionality AND the penalty of NOT implementing the functionality. Cost is the sum of estimated cost for implementing the functionality AND the risk included in implementing the functionality. The level of prioritization is calculated by dividing value by cost. The functionality with the highest quote gets the highest prioritization.
New ways of prioritizing
In many situations the methods described above are sufficient. But not always. To me it all depends on the business model. Look at the business model of your company and use the method for prioritization that best supports the business model. In addition to that I strongly suggest that you inspect and adapt your ways of prioritizing on a continuous basis.
Your way of prioritization
How are you prioritizing? Please add to my thoughts by commenting.