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Classic WSJF Prioritization

Prioritize items according to the cost of delaying their development to embrace a financial-driven methodology within your product management framework.


Maximize economic benefit

Decentralize decision-making

Financial-driven prioritization

Ignore sunk costs

Quantify the Cost of Delay

The Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) framework lets you quantify the financial costs of developing or not developing specific items when making your prioritization decisions. Sequence your development process to continuously provide the best return on your development time. Quantify the cost of delaying an item and then estimate the time it will take to develop it. Then, to calculate your WSJF score for each item, divide the cost of delay by the job duration. You can customize the weights for either metric to reflect the needs of your organization.

Why should I use Classic WSJF prioritization?

Use Classic WSJF when you want to prioritize items according to their financial impact on the organization.

How should I use Classic WSJF prioritization?

First add the cost of not developing an item to the appropriate column, for each item. Next step is to estimate how long it will take your team to develop the item. The Classic WSJF score is calculated by dividing the cost of delay by the development time. You can add weights to either cost of delay or development time to reflect your organization’s priorities — cost or resources.

Who are the relevant stakeholders for this view?

Product leaders developing their plans are highly relevant stakeholders for this view. In addition, executives interested in seeing why one item was prioritized over another can see the objective justification in this view.

What outcomes should I expect from using this view?

You should expect to receive an objective score that reflects the cost of delaying the development of an item, for each item.

What’s the origin of this view?

WSJF prioritization was first presented by Donald Reinertsen in his book, “Principles of Product Management Flow”. Its focus is on reducing the opportunity cost of delays.

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