Let's be honest here, most people have tendencies to prioritize bugs from the latest customers complains or the newest shiniest ideas that just popped in their heads. Using one of the prioritization methods brings in a bit more structure and gives more confidence over your process.

The Value vs. Effort method is one of the quickest way how to prioritize your backlog for everyone who doesn't want to focus just on their gut feeling.

How to use Value vs. Effort Method

Using this framework you need to first identify what is the Value and Effort for each of your priorities.

Value

Ask "How does this contribute to our goal". Goal here can be anything that you are focusing in your project. Few examples are increasing customer satisfaction, getting more closed deals, increasing code quality etc.

Quantifying this can be hard, to make it easier use the following scale:

  • 1 for  Minimal
  • 5 for Low
  • 8 for Medium
  • 13 for High
  • 20 for Super high

Effort

With this metric we clarify "How difficult it is to deliver the task". Don't forget to asses effort of your whole team, the Effort should be based on estimation of all parties involved.

To keep prioritization faster let's not ask for detailed estimation. T-shirt sizing estimation should meet our needs just now:

  • 1 for XS,
  • 5 for S,
  • 8 for M,
  • 13 for L,
  • 20 for XL.

Priority Matrix

This method mainly focuses on vizualising your tasks on the priority matrix that creates four quadrants:

1. Time sinks - These tasks take too long to complete and value isn't that big. Leave them as last or skip them all together.
2. Big projects - These will bring huge value but they usually require more time and resources. Plan for them properly.
3. Quick wins - Do these first to bring value and see results in no time! Big value for lowest effort.
4. Fill-ins - Do these in spare time. They won't require too much time so you can do them while you're waiting in between tasks.

Effort vs Value Priority matrix
Effort vs Value Priority matrix

But you can also calculate the priority score if you want to look on your tasks from a bit different dimension.

How to Calculate Priority Score based on Business Value and Effort.

"A good plan, violently executed now, is better than perfect plan next week." - General George Patton

The Value vs. Effort prioritization technique is popular for it's simplicity. It's fast to implement and structuring your tasks into the Priority Matrix is great vizual way how to identify quick wins in your backlog.