Dec 28

Value matrix to prioritize the backlog

Maximize return on investmentPriotizing the backlog is an important and difficult task which should be done by the product owner. In some cases, it is really hard to be objective in the priority of the user story. This is were the value matrix can help you. The value matrix is an easy table with a few items which influence the priority with a score per item. By adding up the values, you will get a total which can be used to sort the backlog.

An example of a value matrix can be:

Value Example Points
Financial By building this user  story you will actually earn money 13
Time Save time in the   current work process 8
Strategic Gives you an   advantage on your competitors 5
Usability A better usability for  the users of the software 3
Technical This will improve   the quality of the software 2
Teaser A nice enhancement  on your software which will encourage the users to adapt the software better 1

Off course you can alter this table by  your own needs and perspective, but therefore it’s just an example. So when you build a user story which gives financial, usability and teaser value; the business value would be 13 + 3 + 1 = 17 points.

If you have an effort for the user story aswell, you can calculate the ROI (return on investment) by dividing the business value and effort. The business value is 17 in this example and if the effort is 5 points, the ROI is 3,4 (17/5) and this can also help to prioritize the backlog.

I hope this will help you prioritize your backlog easier.

Comments and feedback are welcome!

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  • Great way to rate a user story. You can also give every category a point. Like innovation, remove tech debt etc. The more points you can add the higher the value. Same thing different numbers. The difference is that you don’t rate financial value above any other. Sometime the financial isn’t as important as for example the usability or even teaser.

    Using this rating or the one in the example above is very powerful. Often product owners look at the value of the complexity to estimate the speed and progress of a project. But what would happen if you start measuring the value delivered (ROI) the more value a team can deliver is much more in interesting than the velocity of a team. A team can go slow but deliver a high business value. It would take the heat of and gives a team more purpose.