Monday, July 9, 2012


We've all had them, clients who have a mile long feature list and want everything now! While the enthusiasm and excitement may be encouraging, it's time to get real.  Realistically, every feature is not going to get developed now, it's just not possible.  Prioritization needs to happen to determine what the team should work on first.  How do you prioritize?  How do you go from a mile long list of features to a much leaner, prioritized backlog that a team can burn through?  One way is by having the urgent vs. important discussion.

The Urgent vs. Important Chart


This graph can help visualize and put in perspective what is urgent vs. what is important and take us one step closer to a groomed, prioritize backlog.

Here are a couple examples:
-Broken arm
-Need eventual surgery

How would you rate these, urgent or important?

A broken arm is clearly both high on the urgent and important scale.  This requires immediate attention whereas having the need for eventual surgery is very important, however, it's not as urgent as a broken arm.

Let's equate this to the software world:
-Fatal bug that needs fixed
-Adding Authentication

Where would you rate these on an urgent vs. importance chart?  Clients getting a big visible bug is clearly both urgent and important while a feature to include authentication is very important but not nearly as urgent. 

This visual aid helps put in perspective that everything is not as urgent and important as one may originally think.Take a step back and take a hard look at what is urgent vs. what is important to help prioritize the backlog to ensure the team is working on the most important and the most urgent task at any given time.  A well groomed, prioritized backlog is vital to adding value and getting feedback as quickly as possible.