Tip #3: Prioritization of Requirements
We must all accept that, if the delivery date for our Agile project is fixed, then the scope may have to slip. In turn, this means that the prioritization of the customer requirements becomes absolutely vital, so that what gets squeezed into the first delivery actually brings benefits, and is what the product owner wants first.
The product owner owns the prioritization, and there are several responsibilities here. The product owner must be practical and reasonable in setting the priorities. We cannot have all the requirements as top priority!
There are several ways of identifying priorities. One of the most interesting ones is to have a range of priorities of 1-999, with no two requirements capable of having the same priority. This forces the product owner to REALLY rank the requirements, rather than have a priority system of 1-3, with two-thirds of the requirements as level 1!
The second responsibility, also for the product owner, comes when things start to slip. The customer must be ready to review and adjust the priority rankings, discarding or deferring some requirements.
This is another reason why the Agile project will benefit from a short education session up-front.
Mike Watson (PMP) is a partner in a project management consultancy business, mostly devoted to running practical training in PMI-based approaches across the world. The practical theme is carried through into the 2 books Mike has in print at the moment, the latest one describing a methodology for running smaller projects using just one sheet of paper (Projects Kept Simple, published by MB2000). Mike is also very keen to remind project managers that methodologies and software do not complete project tasks, but the individual human beings that make up the project team do the work.