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47056RE: [scrumdevelopment] Prioritization of Stories in Business Productivity Automation

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  • Tara Santmire
    Jun 1, 2010

      Well our first process is pretty complex.  There are a number of different decision points.  Some of those decision points kick off nice sequential processes.  Some of them kickoff parallel processes  that never come back.  Some of them kickoff parallel processes that have to rejoin  and then kick off more stuff.  Sometimes there are circular review/revise until approval things.   In addition we expect to have somewhere on the order of 150 items moving through the process at any one time and there are specific actors at certain points and for many other things there are a group of actors and we have to know which actor from the group picked up the current step in the process.  So different people will be doing different things to the same item and/or different items at the same time. 


      The business value of the tool is to add transparency to the current process so that people can see anyone item moving through the process and know where it is and how long it is been there.  Also, knowledge/nags etc. when things are overdue.  Currently this is tracked in a spreadsheet and there are data problems and access problems etc.  The PO believes that the tool can’t deliver on this business value until it covers the whole process – replacing the spreadsheet.


      Tara E. Santmire, CSM, PMP


      From: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Roy Morien
      Sent: Tuesday, June 01, 2010 12:05 AM
      To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [scrumdevelopment] Prioritization of Stories in Business Productivity Automation



      Prioritising the Product Backlog to reflect the sequence of activities in the business process seems logical, on the face of it ... but ...
      Are business processes always 'sequential', such that one sub-process is always used before another specific one, and after another specific one? I would suggest not. Are they 'sequential' in that many users can be using each or any 'sub-process' dependant on what any other user is doing at that time? Again, I would suggest not. There is always some degree of randomness about who is doing what while someone else is doing th same, or something else. There is no 'sequence' obvious in this.
      The purpose of prioritising the Product Backlog is to ensure that high-value processes are delivered first, so that all that remains to be done at ay one time is of lower, or low value.
      Having said that, if tracing a path through the usual way of doing things provides a good framework for deciding on business value, then why not do it that way. But always keeping in mind that just because someone wants a report after they have done something else does not raise that report to a high level of priority, necessarilly.
      Roy Morien

      To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
      From: peterstev@...
      Date: Tue, 1 Jun 2010 05:48:39 +0200
      Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Prioritization of Stories in Business Productivity Automation


      Hi Tara,

      You have identified one way to think about the business process: Considering it as a sequence of steps to be executed one after the other. Is that the only way to think about it? Is it the best way?

      I once worked for a company which had a several processes to automate. The first such project I worked on, the program was conceived to implement its process step by step. This seemed logical at the time, but it made the software extremely difficult to test or change, and equally inflexible for the user.

      Later, I worked with two domain experts on the visioning of a similar project. We found that if we took an objected-oriented approach, the process became much simpler: The user would create a dossier, the former steps in the process became operations on the dossier, and a new 'make it so' operation (order) would complete the process. Once a dossier was created, it could be completed. The steps in the middle became optional (even though they remained important enough that most users in most cases would apply them). This made it possible for the P-O to prioritize the value of the operations, but also to add or remove alternatives in repesonse to changing priorities, time pressures, user/customer demands etc.

      For example: Most airline ticketing processes are sequential: 1) enter travel dates, number of passengers and departure and destination point 2) find flights 3) select flights 4) decide to order, 6) identify passengers 7) pay. What happens if your mother in law decides to join you on the trip? You have to start over. Why not just add her to the dossier? Why do you have to reenter the passenger data every time you want to consider a new alternative?

      If you were going to apply the dossier approach to airline ticketing, how would you do it? Which functions would you implement first? Maybe create dossier, pay for flight. Once these are implemented, you can potentially generate revenue. Next might be select alternative flights by price or by schedule, add spouse and kids. Now the customers can easily book the flight they want and bring the whole family. Probably adding your mother-in-law after the rest of the family has already booked a ticket won't be top on your priority list, but you may decide it's important later (especially if she offers to babysit ;-) ). Of course, this function will be competing with 'book rental car' and hotel booking functions which might have more value...

      If you were going to apply this approach to your application, how would you do it? What advantages and disadvantages would you have? Why are the advantages more important (or why aren't they)?



      On 01.06.10 02:07, Tara Santmire wrote:



      Ron – Thanks for taking the time to reply.


      On business value – I think that the PO is taking the point of view that she does not want to deploy until the entire process is deployable and so there is no business value in partial process so just do it in order.  Do you have any suggestions about how I might disabuse her of that notion?  Or might she be correct?  Even if she is wrong, if she is so engrained in thinking this through in terms of the process, might there be value in proceeding in this order?


      On risk – the team has reviewed the process and the associated user stories and their estimation of technical risk is that they are all in the same bin.  The team feels that they have done something fairly similar, for the various pieces of the process.  I can try and go back and elicit more granularity. 


      On amount to learn – you may be right.  I don’t have good ideas about how to elicit more information about prioritization in terms of “amount we need to learn”.  Do you have suggestions?  Even if you are correct, if the PO and users are so engrained in thinking this through in terms of the process, might there be value in proceeding in this order as this is the only way they can think through all the ramifications of decisions?



      Tara E. Santmire, CSM, PMP


      From: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com [mailto:scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ron Jeffries
      Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 7:07 PM
      To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [scrumdevelopment] Prioritization of Stories in Business Productivity Automation



      Hello, Tara. On Monday, May 31, 2010, at 8:23:52 AM, you wrote:

      > The product owner wants to prioritize these stories in the same
      > order that they occur in the business process. I don't see any problems
      > with this, but I have a nagging feeling that I am missing something. Does
      > this seem like a reasonable way of prioritizing the stories? Does it have
      > any potential drawbacks?

      It seems unlikely to me that the business value of the stories is
      decreasing with ordinal position in the business process. It seems
      unlikely to me that the risk of the stories decreases with ordinal
      position in the business process. It seems unlikely to me that the
      amount we need to learn decreases with ordinal position in the
      business process.

      Therefore it seems unlikely to me that priority is in same order as
      the position of the item in the business process.

      Ron Jeffries
      You can observe a lot by watching. --Yogi Berra


      Peter Stevens, CSM, CSPO, CSP
      tel: +41 44 586 6450 



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