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Prioritising Agile Requirements: Timeboxing

Following on from our last blog post: 9 Tips for Prioritising Agile Requirements, we can now look at how prioritisation plays an integral part in the AgileBA® Timeboxing process.


Agile BA Benefits

Here are 3 benefits prioritisation brings to Timeboxing:

 1. It helps plan Timeboxes.

Bring structure to Timeboxes by breaking down the prioritised requirements into measurable percentages.  DSDM® recommends that the ‘Must have’ requirements should represent no more than 60% of the total effort within a Timebox.  ‘Should haves’ and ‘Could haves’ add up to 40% of the total effort.


2. It provides contingency

Separating requirements into percentages ensures the ‘Must Haves’ and ‘Should Haves’ represent no more than 80% effort for each Timebox. The remaining 20% can either be used for lower priority requirements or as contingency for any issues encountered in the more important requirements.


The DSDM® approach to project management sets Time, Cost and Quality as fixed elements and this ensures the project will always deliver a viable solution, on time and within budget.  Contingency is created and managed by setting the Features (Requirements) element as a variable.  When contingency is required, business roles identify and drop the least valuable of the remaining requirements which allows the project to remain on track.


3. Brings confidence that the important functionality will be delivered.

As an Agile BA, you would work with the rest of the team to collect data at the end of time box to show the percentages of Should Haves and Could Haves delivered.  This is extremely useful in either reinforcing your confidence that things are going well, or flag up a warning that important requirements may not be delivered in future increments.


The diagram below illustrates the DSDM® approach to managing a project against the more traditional methods.


DSDM Timeboxing

Project Variables Graphic from the APMG® AgileBA® Handbook



The aim of this article is to emphasise the importance of prioritisation and highlight some examples of where it brings benefit.  You can find a more detailed view of prioritisation for DSDSM® Agile projects in the APMG® AgileBA® Handbook.


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