We should be spending only 20% of efforts on 60% of features which typically add 20% value. An additional 30% of efforts can be allocated to 25% of the features, which deliver 30% of value. The remaining 50% of the efforts can be dedicated to 15% of the features which deliver 50% of the value. These values are an approximation and can vary based on the product context.
How can we do this?
We must reduce the effort we spend on building the core features through reuse and automation so that we can spend more time in building the new marquee features. We may even acquire the base product and build additional features on that, if such a product is available in the market which can be white labelled. The new marquee features would probably need more R&D and spikes in the sprints which are a must to ensure quality product. The level of expertise and skills required for these three groups of features would also vary and we can deploy the resources accordingly, with better efficiency and utilization.
Can we prioritize the high value features first in the sprint?
It depends. If these features can run independently, without the core features, we can consider releasing them as a separate app. If they can run only on the core features, then they must follow core features in the priority list. In this scenario spending less time and money on the core makes sense.
What are the possible conflicts here?
The first and foremost conflict is the value assigned to 60% of the core features. While the team will have to build and deliver this, the business does not attribute a lot of value. This can make the team feel undervalued. The solution for this is coaching the team in the concept of business value and make them realize that they should stop looking at value from their perspective, in terms of effort spent.
The second major conflict that can happen is when the customer starts pushing the team to deliver the marquee features quickly, as only 15% of them are remaining. Here there is a possibility of customer trying to calculate the feature wise effort spent or trying to convert story points into efforts; and expect a similar effort to be sufficient for the marquee features as well. This can put the team under tremendous delivery pressure, effecting the morale and quality of the deliverables. In this scenario, the customer must be taken into confidence in the beginning of the project and the development strategy should be agreed upon. The need to spend 50% of the effort on marquee features must be understood and agreed by all parties.
The third possible conflict can happen when the core features are completed, and the marquee features can be prioritized and taken up for development. There could be a tendency to relegate the good to have features for later builds and expedite the marquee features. As we have already discussed, we can’t sacrifice the good to have features as the customers are already expecting them to be there. Hence, the only way to manage this conflict is to reduce the time and effort from a conventional approach and complete them fast, to ensure that we have enough time for the marquee features.
In summary, figuring these things out up front can bring a lot of clarity to the Scrum teams as well as the customers. The product would be delivered more efficiently and can also have lower time to market.