WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) – Definition


The concept of WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) is an indicator to help the team in the SAFe framework to prioritize  the product backlog. Let’s look if this concept can help you to have a better prioritization of your backlog.

This concept is an alternative to the ROI (Return On Investment) that we have explained in an old article: Prioritize with Business Value?

WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) – Definition

Le WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) is a result of a complete calculation ; this result  is an indicator  to prioritize your product backlog. The SAFe team use it to produce maximum economic benefit on Features, Capabilities, and Epics. SAFe consider that it’s really important to provide the best economic outcomes.

Here is the calculation to do to have the WSJF for each Feature, Capability, or Epic (not the user stories):


The cost of Delay

The Cost of Delay (CoD) is really important  in this concept; If the cost of delay is more important than other request with the same time of development, so we have to prioritize it before.

To calculate the cost of delay, we have to consider 3 things:

  • User-business value: Which relative value this element will bring to the users? What is the revenue impact, penalties if you have delay?
  • Time criticality: Do you have a deadline to respect? When this element have to be delivered if you don’t want to have trouble with your customer? When do another teams need this element to can continue their work?
  • Risk reduction: What is the reduction of the risk if you deliver this elements quickly? Will this feature enable new business opportunities?


With this 3 defined notion, you could calculate the cost of delay.

cost of delay
cost of delay

When the team use this concept WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) to prioritize, they will order the element with the highest number on the top of the product backlog. Don’t forget, we use WSJF for the prioritization of features, capabilities, or epics but not for each user stories.

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About Judicaël Paquet 190 Articles
Judicaël Paquet (agile coach and senior devops) My activities in France and Switzerland: - agile transformation architect - customized agile training - sensitization and manager coaching - agile maturity audits and situations - agile coaching (teams, orga, product owner, scrum master, agile coach) Specialties: scrum, kanban, management 3.0, scalability, lean startup, agile method.

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