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Prioritisation using Cost of Delay

Often we encounter companies that have far more demand than their software teams can service. Once we’ve made this visible, the next step is figuring out how to prioritise so that they can spend their development capacity in the best possible way. I recently discovered a great technique for this. But first some background on how I came across this.

This year, Sam and I pledged to a year of no international travel, after far too much travel last year. However we still wanted to be involved with the annual Agile conference in the US. We signed up to be stage reviewers to help select talks. I signed up to be a stage reviewer for the experience report stage. I had submitted to this stage in the past and had a great experience, so I wanted to help someone else have the same experience. Submissions to this stage are required to submit a paper along side the submission, and need to be based on a case study.

When reviewing the submissions, one in particular caught my eye. It covered a case study at Maersk Line. Many years ago I was a Program Manager at Safmarine responsible for delivering software systems to Maersk Line. We used the V Model and a very heavy project management approach with PRINCE2. I was excited to heard about an agile case study at Maersk. Also the topic was intriguing “Black Swan Farming – Prioritisation using Cost of Delay”. I’d been introduced to Cost of delay curves but hadn’t actually come across anyone using them in the real world yet. I opted to be the shepherd who assisted with this paper.

After reading the result I wanted to share it. It’s a great story of using some simple techniques to radically improve both cycle time and ROI. If you are going to Agile 2013, do yourself a favour and go to this talk. If you can’t make the conference, look out for the paper that will be on the agile alliance website. It could change the way you decide what to work on.

Well done to Joshua Arnold and Özlem Yüce for a great paper. You can find out more about their work here