# Decision making between alternatives: methods and tools?

My company is in this situation:

• low budget
• few time
• a lot of idea for new feature

So, we need to prioritize feature implementation, only some will be implemented now, some other will be next year, and some other maybe never.

Actually I am thinking to make a list of feature, do SWOT analysis for each point, and, with it, try to prioritize all.

Is there a better method to make decisions in these situations where you have 10 options, but only time and budget to realize only a pair of them?

• Low budget, little time, and lots of features is basically any company out there :D May 30 '20 at 10:44
• Agile is the way to go. Prioritize them based on what you think is most valuable right now (low hanging fruit probably first), and start from the top. Priority can change over time, but always make sure your delivery team is working on the things that are on top right now. Release iteratively, so you reap benefits from the first couple of features as soon as possible. May 30 '20 at 14:34

Another prioritization schema you can use is to score each feature using over value--benefit and penalty--and cost and risk. The picture below is a sample of what this would look like:

Each criterion is scored 1 through 9, 1 being low and 9 being high. Benefit criterion is obvious; this is how the feature would add overall value to the system, organization, stakeholder group, revenue and profit, etc. Penalty is the "price" the organization would pay if the feature was deferred. Benefit and penalty together provides an overall value score.

Cost criterion is the cost to the organization of implementing the feature or requirement. And risk is the overall risk to the system in implementing a feature.

You can alter the weights of each criterion so long as they equal 100% for both benefits and costs and risks. In the picture, they are all weighted equally.

The math behind the tool is the criterion score x the weight and then adding the products together for both the value side and the cost and risk side. Then the sum is simply divided by the total sum of all the scores to arrive at the relative total.

Example math for item 1 is ((9*50%)+(9*50%)/110.5) = 8.14%. Cost side is ((3*50%)+(7*50%)/90.5) = 5.52% Then, the relative benefit is divided by the relative cost: 8.14%/5.52% = 1.47.

Simply sort from high to low and you have your priority.

This graph shows how the tool works. You can see that the high priority item scored higher in value and lower in cost and risk and then vice versa for the low priority items.

• from the screenshot seems you already have a spreadsheet template to do it, could you share it? May 30 '20 at 19:25
• I have no problems sharing it. But I am not sure how to do it on this platform. Any suggestions? May 30 '20 at 19:27
• it depends on the format, is it a google drive sheet or an excel? I can asto give you email and then delete comment May 30 '20 at 19:29
• It's ms excel. Yes, provide email and I'll quickly copy and then you can delete. May 30 '20 at 19:30
• Got it. Stand by for it. May 30 '20 at 19:32

[...] you have 10 options, but only time and budget to realize only a pair of them

You hit the nail on the head with this: "time and budget". You need some technique that accounts for these two factors. The SWOT analysis doesn't really account for either. You may do your analysis but then how do you chose? Do you go for the highest opportunities? The lowest risk (i.e. threats)? You start with your strengths first? Once you have your four dimensions for each feature, how exactly are you going to prioritize one against each other?

When your time and budget is limited, you need to prioritize for value. And you want the most value out of the shortest time possible. One useful technique that acounts for value and urgency is Donald Reinertsen's WSJF method, calculating cost of delay over task duration, which in lay terms means "what is most painful to endure if we don't have it now".

Of course, you need to sit down with your business people and think well about business value, but you already needed to do that with SWOT anyways, so that's not really any different. The output however is better because you are thinking about economic outcomes (with SWOT you might be tempted to work on low risk items first, when maybe it would make more sense to tackle something riskier that would provide greater business value).

Here is another option -- break down items to small deliverables and start from shortest ones -- more items (experiments, features) you deliver more chances you get it right and faster route to actual feedback that helps with prioritizing.

Lean startup + Agile delivery