Prioritize with Business Value?

business value
business value

What’s Business Value?

As the name suggests, Business Value is the business value of a request. The business owner can give business value to each user-story to help the Product Owner to prioritize his Backlog.

This practice is adapted to organizations where the Product Owner is in the Scrum team and not the business side.

As a reminder

It’s very important in Agile method to prioritize by value. We want to deliver more value at the beginning of the project to obtain the more important feedbacks soon as possible. Why?

If you know the iron agile triangle (see below), in agile method we have two fixed axis : ressource and time. But we work all time with a variable scope.

iron agile triangle
iron agile triangle

So, we don’t really know what we’ll deliver at the end of the project. But we want to deliver the best product for the clients. For that, we’ll try to deliver a maximum of value soon as possible to ensure to have the best product at the end.

Here is a curve that represent the ideal situation during the project :

delivery of business value
delivery of business value

We have a first step of run-in (the time is variable according to the teams) but after it, we’ll try to deliver the maximum of business value.

How to rate user-stories in a simple way?

During a workshop or prioritization meeting, the Product Owner (PO) will ask at the business owner (or stakeholders) to put a Business Value on each user-story.

It will propose a scale from 0 to 1000 to them. When the business owner agree on the user-story, we will indicate the final business value on the post’it like that in red (for example):


post'it business value
post’it business value

It’s possible to report this business value on your project management tool.

This Business Value will allow the Product Owner to define a Return of Investing (ROI) on each of the user-stories calculated.

ROI = Business Value / Story Point.

Then the Product Owner could write it on the post’it so that this ROI is visible to everyone:

Post'it ROI
Post’it ROI

The ROI can really be interesting because it allows to make a choice in the priorities. It may be interesting to pass tickets with a strong ROI because they are usually quick to develop and their business value is strong enough.

By treating it quickly, the Product Owner will probably gain esteem in the trade that made this request. The more the Product Owner is estimated, the more likely he is to be supported by trades during difficult times.
Not to mention, the Product Owner must also have a seductive strategy if he wants to continually improve his workspace (it’s a specific case).

First problem encountered

If you don’t have this problem in the Business Value definition, you will not need to go further into the workshop. In general, problems arise when we have several clients for our Scrum team and the team manages several projects (even micro requests such as small evolutions or bugs).

The first problem that the Product Owner often encounters is that all business owner put a strong Business Value on their tickets to pass before the others.

It’s not uncommon to see big company that the stakeholders to compete against the Product Owner because all of their demands are ten times greater than the Scrum team’s capacity to do. They think they don’t have the choice that to find ways to see their demands come true.


Use a Board for Business Value

The implementation of this Business Value Board (BV) should be done in a meeting called the Priority Meeting. We gather the stakeholders every week for a short session of prioritization; the Product Owner will use this board as support.

The Product Owner will be able to force all stakeholders to put the right BV by imposing the placement of the post’it on a specialized board for this purpose:


board business value
board business value

Stakeholders will have to put their requests (post’it) in the columns like this to determinate automatically the BVs of each user-story. They will only be able to use a second line if the first line is complete.

The goal of this board is to force the stakeholders to prioritize their demands together or even discuss in case of disagreement. The goal is not to treat the entire backlog but to manage the demands that are important for the stakeholders.


Conclusion business value

I Had already experimented this method and I can guarantee you that it really helps to prioritize properly your Sprint backlog. As I recall at the beginning of the article, this only applies in certain contexts.

There are many techniques to improve the priorities, including Business Value. Do not hesitate to share us your own pratices in comment


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About Judicaël Paquet 368 Articles
Judicaël Paquet (agile coach and senior devops) My Engagements in France and Switzerland: - Crafting Agile Transformation Strategies - Tailored Agile Training Programs - Raising Awareness and Coaching for Managers - Assessing Agile Maturity and Situational Analysis - Agile Coaching for Teams, Organizations, Product Owners, Scrum Masters, and Agile Coaches Areas of Expertise: Scrum, Kanban, Management 3.0, Scalability, Lean Startup, Agile Methodology.

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