Hey Rick, do you still have an example of that prioritization matrix?
Dan Pitrowiski

I don’t — it had a bunch of proprietary data in it, but I can speak about it more generally…

The company had a number of business initiatives we wanted to focus on for the year, so each of those were arrayed along one axis — things like “Customer Experience”, “Strategic Opportunity”, “Reduce Overhead”, and the like. Each of those initiatives then had a number of different “values” associated with each, like “Ease of Use”, “Reduce Customer Service Contacts”, “Security”, “Reliability”, “Technical Debt” (everyone’s favorite), “Revenue Potential”, “Competitive Parity”, “Globalization”, and so on.

Along the other axis, we had a long list of proposed projects in our pipeline. Every project had to have a primary stakeholder (usually a Product Manager, sometimes an exec), and each project had to have a short summary of why the stakeholder thought it was valuable, with as much real data or projected data to back them as possible.

For each project, every person invited to take part in the prioritization process had to provide a ranking from 1–5. For each heading/section of values, that might mean a slightly different thing (for things measuring cost/revenue, 1 might mean $0, and 5 might mean “Over $1 million”, where values related to features, 1 might be “No customer is asking for this yet”, and 5 might be “We receive over customer 50 requests for this each month”).

Much like your document, each project would get a ranking — by including the heading areas, we could provide both a ranking against each business initiative, as well as overall against all sub-values of all initiatives, and that output was the first draft of our prioritized backlog. We’d then look closely at that list, talk about any rankings that surprised us, and make sure that everyone was working from the same assumptions/understandings around each project, before setting our backlog for the upcoming months.

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