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When SAFe was first introduced to help large organizations implement Agile and enable them to adapt to the changes faster it naturally came with its own prioritization method.
Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) prioritization model helps calculate and understand what is the level of the financial impact of not finishing the task, or implementing the solution sooner than later - it's called Cost of Delay.
This technique is built to speed up the delivery of value, especially in large projects where the big queues of issues can build up and waiting times are getting longer and longer.
To calculate the Cost of Delay and WSJF score we need to first assign four metrics to our priorities - Business value, Time criticality, Risk reduction, and Estimated size.
Ask the question "How does this impact our business" and try to look at it from different angles. If you have your Goals or OKRs set you can see how much this task helps you to get closer to completing these.
To assess Time criticality ask "Is there a fixed deadline? Can we lose customers if it isn't completed in a certain time?" Tasks with more tight and closer deadlines have Higher Time criticality than ones with more loose ones.
This metric is a great addition to the first one - Business value. Here we're asking "Is there any negative impact if we delay?"
The last question we ask is "How difficult is this to deliver" You can try to estimate how long it would take to deliver this task if one person would work on this in months. But you can also use T-shirt sizing to make it a bit easier.
The WSJF score
When we have all metrics assigned we can then calculate the cost of delay and the priority score.
The cost of delay is a sum of business value, time criticality, and risk reduction. The cost of delay helps quantify the impact of time on outcomes we’re hoping to achieve.
To calculate the Weighted shortest job priority score divide Cost of delay with the Estimated size and you have it. The higher the priority score more important the task is.
Foxly is a backlog prioritization app for Jira Cloud created by us at Jexo💚. It’s a handy app that helps you keep your priorities and prioritization process in Jira where the work happens.
The WSJF method is predefined in the app with the following metrics - Business value, Time criticality, Risk reduction, and Estimated size. There is also an option to tweak the prioritization template to your needs, edit metrics, add additional ones or change the scoring formula.
When it comes to prioritizing backlog you can use the Priority table in Foxly where you can fill each of the metrics for issues in your backlog. The WSJF priority score is then automatically calculated for each issue.
Once you fill all metrics we can have a look at the final Priority Score and order our list by the priority score from highest to lowest and see the items that are most important on the top.
You can also visualize the Estimated size and Business value metrics on the Priority matrix to easily identify Quick wins - The most valuable tasks that are achievable with the lowest effort.
Foxly also stores your WSJF score in the custom field called Priority score so you can use this field to show the score on your backlog and kanban cards. Have a look at the video to see how 👇
If you’re looking for a backlog prioritization tool that integrates with Jira where you can use this template you can try our app Foxly. It’s really fun and easy to use and helps keep everyone in your team and stakeholders up to date with the latest priorities.
If you feel that the WSJF prioritization technique might not be the right one for you and your team, have a look at other prioritization methods like RICE, ICE, Value vs. Effort, or Quick wins method.
👉 If you would like to give Foxly a try you can find it on the Atlassian Marketplace.
There is a 30-days free trial and as a bonus, the app is free for up to 10 users 👏