Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Stop using Priority 1!

I will come as no surprise to hear that  I read a lot of blogs about agile and agile methodologies and  when it comes to ordering/prioritising the backlog you will usually have people talking about priorty 1 this, priority 1 that and with the stories being numbered in sequence e.g. 1,2,3,4, etc

To be honest I'm surprised that after all the years agile has been around that this is still what people are suggesting you do since its actually a complete pain to work with.

What am I talking about? Well if you have a backlog of say 30 items (I'm assuming they are in some sort of electronic system) and they are all number sequentially then if the business suddenly discovers something that must be "Priority 1" you have to alter every other story in the backlog to adjust their priorities and the work required to do this is really pure waste.

A better way of handling the priority is to invert the numbers, make the highest number the highest priority, this way if you want an new highest priority item you simply find the current top priority and add to its number, no need to reorganize the backlog, no change to what you have no waste, plus people often like the idea of giving a big number of a top priority so you are likely to get little resistance there.

An added bonus is with more numbers to "play with" you are less likely to get product owners/stakeholders trying to make everything "Priority 1" and more likely to engage in ordering the stories appropriately for the team to work on.

Also to make your life even easier don't number your stories using sequential numbers leave space between the numbers so that you can slot new stories in between existing ones if you need to.

So instead of 1,2,3,4 try using 4000, 3000, 2000, 1000 it will relive you of a little pain in your backlog management.

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