How to prioritize work to deliver maximum business value

“Prioritization of work” is an important Agile concept. It helps ensure teams complete work that is most important to the business first. However, many people still conflate the prioritization of important work with work that delivers business value.

Business value is the combination of all economic, human and intangible forms of importance to the business. In an agile or scrum methodology, all these dimensions contribute value to each feature.

Prioritization is the process of putting the card with the highest business value ahead of the next most important card. In this way, the backlog reflects story cards in the order of importance (highest to lowest) as defined by business value.

You can best estimate business value at the feature or epic level. By applying business value to the features, product and business owners can ensure value assessment across the entire work item. As teams are assigned work with the most value, they can break it down into smaller stories which they re-prioritize. This delivers value sprint-by-sprint until the feature is complete.

Together, prioritization and business value help ensure the right work is done at the right time for the benefit of the company. Prioritization of stories gives the team direction on which pieces of a feature to address first. Assigning business value to features ensures the team will work on the feature that delivers the biggest value to the company.

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