27–29 September 2017, Churchill College, Cambridge

Using cost of delay to improve prioritisation

A 90 minute Workshop by:

Steve Hickman

Tesco Plc

About this Workshop

Agile methods focus on maximising value delivered to customers, which in turn places a high premium on being able to prioritise our work to ensure we are always developing the most valuable thing. This prioritisation can be greatly improved if we can quantify the benefits expected from each item being considered for development.

However, quantifying value can feel hard. This workshop walks you through a qualitative prioritisation technique - cost of delay (COD) and cost of delay divided by duration (CD3) - and shows that it's really not that difficult after all.

In this workshop we will use COD and CD3 to prioritise a short list of business problems and new features. The workshop will be split into 3 parts. In groups of 3 or 4, participants will:

  • use intuition to prioritise the features
  • pick a feature and calculate its COD
  • use CD3 to prioritise the features

Part 1: prioritise by intuition

Each group will be given the list of business problems and new features along with a short description of the benefits expected to be realised for each of these. They will then prioritise this list by using their intuitive feeling for the value of each benefit. These prioritised lists will be compared to the list prioritised by COD and CD3 at the end of the workshop.

Part 2: calculate cost of delay

After a brief introduction to COD and a framework for thinking about value, participants will be walked through a COD calculation. Each group will chose a feature for which to calculate the COD. They will:

  • decide where the expected benefits fit on the value framework
  • identify data that will allow them to quantify these benefits
  • use this data to calculate the cost of delay

At each stage, further details will be given to the participants to help with the calculation and to ensure they remain on track. For example, at the end of the first step, each group will be given pre-prepared data to use for the final cost of delay calculation. After the final step, a completed list of COD values for all the features will be given to the groups.

Part 3: prioritise by CD3

After a brief introduction to CD3, participants will be given estimates for time to deliver each feature. Using these estimates and each feature’s cost of delay, they will prioritise the features by their CD3.

About the Speaker

Much of Steve’s career has been spent using agile methods to develop and produce video games, such as the 2m+ selling, critically acclaimed FlatOut franchise; the cult hit Mashed; the International Cricket Captain series and Bad Boys 2. A few years ago, to the ongoing disappointment of his children, Steve left the games industry to use his agile experience for fresh challenges. He is currently an agile coach at Tesco, where he is helping to drive one of the biggest agile transformations undertaken to date.

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