Backlog Prioritization

You cannot eat a whole pie. You can only do one slice at a time.

An American friend of mine told me this when we talked about prioritization. Think about it.
If we try to eat it all at once, it will be almost impossible and you won’t enjoy it.
If we try to eat a bit of each slice instead of a slice at a time, you will spend a lot of time changing from slice to slice.
The easiest and most optimal way is to eat one slice at a time.
But which slice should you choose first?

This is where prioritization comes into play.

There are a huge number of prioritization techniques, each one has positives and less positive points. Some make sense to use at a higher level, others at a lower level, for example when prioritizing Goals vs prioritizing items.

We spend hours talking about each one of them. Kano. MoSCoW. Stack Ranking. Story Mapping… But there is a simple one that I love that, at least in my view, trumps all of those techniques.

The Eisenhower matrix.

Why does it trump all of the other techniques? Because of simplicity. There are only 2 dimensions to be considered. As simple as a Yes or No question.

Is it urgent?

Does this require immediate action or attention?

Is it important?

Is it a must do, or a nice to have?

Armed with these 2 simple questions you can look back at your backlog and prioritize it in a very simple way.

You can even make it a game and invite your dev team to participate. They can vote between 1 and 4 (or any number you want) for every item there in these 2 dimensions. Then you can take that and map it in your Eisenhower matrix.

It is an amazing exercise to see if the dev team knows your business goals and what are our top priorities to move the business forward.



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