When SAFe, short for Scaled Agile Framework, 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 too.
Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) prioritization model helps calculate and understand what is the level of the financial impact of not finishing the task of 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.
"If you prematurely invest all your time and money on the wrong idea, you have nothing left to try new ideas." - Alberto Savoia
How to use WSJF method
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.
When assessing Business value 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.
- 1 for Lowest value
- 5 for Low value
- 8 for Medium value
- 13 for High value
- 20 for Highest value
Now it's time to asses "Is there a fixed deadline? Can we loose customers if it isn't completed in certain time?" Tasks with more tight and sooner deadlines have Higher Time criticality than ones with more loosen ones.
- 1 for Lowest
- 5 for Low
- 8 for Medium
- 13 for High
- 20 for Highest
Risk reduction metric is great addition to the first one - Business value. Here we're asking "Is there any negative impact if we delay?"
- 1 for No risk
- 5 for Low risk
- 8 for Medium risk
- 13 for High risk
- 20 for Highest risk
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.
- 1 for XS
- 5 for S
- 8 for M
- 13 for L
- 20 for XL
The WSJF score
When we have all metrics assigned we can then calculate the cost of delay and the priority score.
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 WSJF priority score more important the task is.
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.
Are you looking for a backlog prioritization tool that integrates with Jira where you can use WSJF template? 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.
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Happy prioritizing ✌️
What is WSJF?
WSJF is acronym for Weighted shortest job first.
WSJF is a prioritization method that helps calculate and understand what is the level of financial impact of not finishing the task or implementing the solution sooner than later.
How is WSJF score calculated?
To calculate WSJF score we need to first assign four metrics to our priorities - Business value, Time criticality, Risk reduction and Estimated size. The WSJF scores calculated with the following formula: WSJF score = (Business value + Time criticality + Risk reduction) / Estimated size.
What is the weighted shortest job used for?
Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) prioritization method helps calculate and understand what is the level of financial impact of not finishing the task or implementing the solution sooner than later. WSJF method is usually used in organizations that are using SAFe.