Prioritization and estimation methods overview



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Jira Align supports both prioritization and estimation methods. Prioritization is used prior to estimation, to identify what epics, capabilities, and features should be worked on first, prior to estimation. Prioritization is available using the Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) method. 

Estimation is the process of predicting the most realistic amount of effort required to develop or maintain software based on incomplete and uncertain input. Jira Align supports three different methods for estimating epics, capabilities, and features. These estimation methods are: T-shirt size, points, and team weeks/member weeks.

WSJF prioritization

Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) is calculated as the cost of delay (CoD) divided by job duration. Jobs that can deliver the most value and are of the shortest duration are selected first for implementation. To calculate WSJF, you need to set values for each of the following attributes:

  • Business value: Relative value in the eyes of the customer/business, including such considerations as what users prefer, revenue impact on the business, and any penalty (cost or market share) for slow or late delivery.
  • Time value: This parameter reflects how the user value may decline (or CoD will increase) over time. Considerations include deadlines, customers' willingness to wait, and the effect on customer satisfaction while the feature is not available.
  • Risk reduction/opportunity enablement value: This element is a combination of three items: the need to eliminate risks early, the credit given to the value of the information received, and the potential for new business opportunities that might be unlocked.
  • Job size: If the availability of resources means that a larger job may be delivered more quickly than some other job, then the job size estimate must be converted to job length to have a more accurate result.

The highest calculated WSJF score is the item you should plan into an upcoming program increment first. You can calculate WSJF for epics, capabilities, and features

Estimation methods

T-Shirt size estimation is a process by which your features, capabilities, and epics are categorized in rough sizes, such as extra-small, small, medium, large, and extra-large.

Point estimation uses a number of points to represent needed effort. This method is the standard for stories, but can also be used for features, capabilities, and epics.

Planning poker is a method of point estimation for stories, which ensures that the entire team is involved in creating an estimate. There are two types of points that can be used in planning poker: Fibonacci sequence (a sequence of numbers in which the next number is derived by adding together the previous two) and Power of 2 (a number of the form 2n, meaning 2 multiplied by itself n times).

Planning poker rules:

  • Every team member has the same number of cards.
  • Assumptions and details are available for each team member. Everyone can bring up assumptions and details separately and edit the assumptions.
  • There is a list of stories to be estimated. The team discusses a story and votes.
  • If the team does not agree, there is a second round of discussion and voting.
  • If, after the second voting the team agrees, save it and move to the next story.

Team/member weeks estimation uses the concept of a week to represent needed effort. A member week is the amount of work one person on a team can deliver in a typical week. This can be expressed in story points, which is the basis used to convert one estimation type to another. A team week is the amount of work one team — typically 6 members — can deliver in a typical week. 1 team week in Jira Align is equal to 6 member weeks. Team/member weeks are often used to roughly gauge capacity needs during forecasting, which is a pre-estimation activity.

Estimation conversions

All estimation methods for features, capabilities, and epics are converted between each type in our database and may be viewed and compared on grid pages. This is useful when considering changing your practices to use another estimation method, and to compare point estimates made on a set of child stories against t-shirt sizes/weeks estimated on higher-level work items. Set up your conversions between estimation types using the Estimation Conversions menu.

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