The concept of WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) serves as an indicator within the SAFe framework to aid teams in prioritizing the product backlog. Let’s explore whether this concept can enhance your backlog prioritization.
This concept offers an alternative to ROI (Return On Investment), which we elaborated on in a previous article: Prioritize with Business Value?
WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) – Definition
WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) results from a comprehensive calculation and serves as an indicator for prioritizing your product backlog. The SAFe team employs it to maximize economic benefits from Features, Capabilities, and Epics. SAFe emphasizes the importance of yielding optimal economic outcomes.
Here’s the calculation to determine WSJF for each Feature, Capability, or Epic (not user stories):
The Cost of Delay
The Cost of Delay (CoD) holds significant importance within this concept. If the cost of delay outweighs other requests with similar development times, it warrants higher prioritization.
Calculating the cost of delay involves considering three aspects:
- User-business value: What relative value will this element offer users? How will it impact revenue, and what are the penalties for delays?
- Time criticality: Are there specific deadlines to adhere to? When must this element be delivered to avoid customer issues? When do other teams require this element to proceed with their work?
- Risk reduction: What risk reduction accompanies swift delivery of this element? Will this feature enable new business opportunities?
With these three defined notions, you can calculate the cost of delay.
When utilizing the WSJF concept to prioritize, the team will arrange elements with higher numbers at the top of the product backlog. Remember, WSJF is intended for prioritizing features, capabilities, and epics, not individual user stories.