Which prioritization method is right for me?

There are a number of approaches that you can use to estimate and prioritize work, and you can find loads of articles on the internet explaining what each is and how to use them. From WSJF to RICE, t-shirt sizing or using Planning Poker with a Fibonacci sequence, you don’t lack for options.

But how do you determine which is right for you? There are two simple steps.

The first is to try one and see if you’re successful. In this case, “success” is defined as, you’re able to come up with estimates, prioritize based on those, and then validate the accuracy of estimates and the validity of your prioritization. You need to give this some time (if you’re doing 2-week sprints, for instance, I suggest sticking with a method for around 5 sprints), but if you are finding that your relative sizing is holding true (that is, when you think something is bigger or more complex, it does indeed take more time than a smaller-point story), and if you and your stakeholders perceive that you’re shipping the right value in the right sequence, then you’re good.

The second is to stick with it, because internal consistency is key. If you find something that generally works, then don’t switch things up too quickly or without good reason. When you’re first getting started, you might have to switch methods a few times–no worries there. But if you’ve been using WSJF for 3 months, don’t switch to RICE because you just heard about it and it sounds snazzy. Don’t let people push on you to simplify things and go to a single story point estimate provided by one person on the team. Simplicity is great, but it’s not the goal here: the goal is valid estimates that help us ship the right thing next.

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