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Saturday, August 4, 2012

What factors are needed to prioritize themes?

Need of users is considered before planning for a project. To achieve the best combination of product features, schedule, and cost requires deliberate consideration of the cost and value of the user stories and themes.
We need to prioritize and this responsibility is shared among the whole team. Individual user stories or features are aggregated into themes. Stories and themes are then prioritized relative to one another for the purpose of creating a release plan.

There are four primary factors to be considered when prioritizing:
1. The financial value of having the features.
2. The cost of developing new features.
3. The amount and significance of learning and new knowledge created by developing the features.
4. The amount of risk removed by developing features.

1. Determine the Value of Theme
- Estimate the financial impact over a period of time.
- It can be difficult to estimate the financial return on theme.
- It usually involves estimating number of new sales, average value of sales and so on.

2. Determine the Cost of Developing new Features
- Estimating cost of a feature is a huge determinant in overall priority of a feature.
- The best way to reduce the cost of change is to implement a  feature as late as possible.
- The best time to add feature is when there is no more time to change.
- Themes seem worthwhile when viewed in terms of time they will take.
- It is important to keep in mind that time costs money.
- The best way to do this while prioritizing is to do a rough conversion of story points or ideal days into money.

3. Learning New Knowledge
The knowledge that a team develops can be classified in two areas:
Product Knowledge
- It is the knowledge about what will be developed.
- It includes knowledge about features that are included and the features that are not included.
- Better knowledge of product will help the team to make better decisions.

Project Knowledge
- It is the knowledge about how product will be created.
- It includes knowledge about technologies, skills of developers, functioning of team together etc.
- The other side of acquiring knowledge is reducing uncertainty.

4. Risk
- A risk is anything that has not happened yet but might happen. It would threaten or limit the success of the project.
- Types of risks involved in a project are : schedule risk, cost risk and functionality risk.
- Struggle exists between high risk and high-value features of a project.
- Each approach has its drawbacks and the only solution is to give neither risk nor value total supremacy when prioritizing.

All these factors are combined by thinking first of the value and cost of the theme. Doing so will sort the themes into an initial order. Themes can then be moved forward or back in this order based on the other factors.

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