Friday, May 17, 2013

Question: How to order Stories in the PB

Question from a former Class Attendee:

Another question, this time about ranking user stories.

In the recent Scrum Master course, you indicated we should rank stories in the PB (Product Backlog) by Business Value and then do them from the top down. In the Product Owner course back in 2011, you had us calculate R = BVP / SP to arrive at the cost / benefit value and then rank by R. This would have the effect of doing longer items ahead of shorter items that have somewhat less business value.
What do you recommend now? What are your current thoughts?


I explain this at a decent length in my small book on Agile Release Planning.

I am still a fan of the R factor.  AKA cost benefit analysis.

And a fan of making stories small.  To me, all epics eventually must be broken down so that we can get 8 items (stories) in a sprint.  So, if we have a velocity of 20 for a 2 week sprint, then items average about 2.5 story points in the sprint.

So, as stories rise to the top and get broken down, we have to re-point (both BVP and SP). And thus the R and the ordering will change.

Not quite sure what your concern is, but I think that resolves it.

The order can never be 'purely' business value.  We have other things to consider (which we might also call business value, but to me it gets too complex to put it that way....).  Things like Risks, Dependencies, Learning, MMFS (minimum marketable feature set), and Other factors.

So, I like to use R factor. Rank by that. And then have the Team discuss changes to that ordering.
Remember that to me the most important thing is that the Team together see the same elephant.

In the long term (or short term??) the PO wants to maximize the business value delivered out of the Team.  I think.  As a contrasting example, the PO is not optimizing the 'efficiency' of the Team (that each hour is used 'productivity').


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