Prioritising almost anything – UXcamp London


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Presentation I gave at UXcamp London in August 2009.
A little technique to help prioritise almost anything, alone or with a group.

Download this presentation and the templates here:

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  • Prioritise what?
    Anything really
    Todo lists
    Things you want to see on your trip to Paris
    Business opportunities
    Feature lists
  • Why prioritise?

    Bringing things in order
    deciding what is important, what is less important
    knowing what to do first, where to start
  • And how?
    A simple technique to the rescue:
    As all things have more than one side to them,choose two parameters to rate the items by.

    For example:
    Urgency of item vs. hassle of getting it done (for the todo lists)
    Possible enjoyment vs. how much you can impress your friends with photos
    Business importance vs. Market viability
    Potential revenue vs. Development cost
    Business benefit vs. User needs
  • Possible enjoyment vs. how much you can impress your friends with photos(for your trip to Paris)
  • Business importance vs. Market viability(for business opportunities)
  • Potential revenue vs. Development cost(for for feature lists)
  • Business benefit vs. User needs(for for feature lists)

    I used these two axis for some of my projects and found them to work quite well for getting a first prioritisation of feature lists to define scope.
  • We need a scale to rate the things on.
    Keep it simple: 1 to 5 points.
  • But as we have limited resources (in time, in money, in attention, ...) we somehow need need to limit the amount of points we can give out.

    A simple formula:(Max. points) = (Middle value of your point scale) * (# of items)

    If we have 5 items to rate on a scale from 1 to 5, we have 15 points maximum to dish out.
  • So when we rate, we need to stay within this limit.
  • Use it with a group
    and that’s where it becomes really handy!

    When to use it with a group?
    In a project with several stakeholders
    when defining skope
    when you need to build consensus
  • 1. Identify all stakeholders
    that need to be involved in the prioritisation.
    Get experts from different areas who have insights that will help to priorotise (business/financial, UX, user research, customer support)
  • 2. Gather all items that should be prioritised
    Write a short description for each item
    Fill them in the participant template
  • 3. Preparation session with all stakeholders involved
    Get everybody in one room.
    Explain the technique, how it works and and its benefits
    Go through all items on the list together. Make sure that everybody has the same understanding of what they mean.
    Gather any items that are missing from the list
  • 4. Send out the rating template to all participants
    Give the participants 2-3 days to send back the sheet (don’t leave them too much time, the whole process should be wrapped up within a week)
    Include invite to the evaluation session together with the spreadsheet.
    Schedule the evaluation session shortly after the deadline for sending the ratings in. Give yourself some time to merge the results.
  • 5. Collate the ratings in one spreadsheet
    Tip: when copying and pasting the numbers into the synthesis part of the template, paste them into a non-formated text file first to keep formatting of target cells
    Sort the spreadsheet descending by overall rating to get a ranked list (note that this ranking is not necessarily the order of importance as you might see on the diagram that you’ll create)

    Create a diagram of the first ranking
    export data on “csv export” tab as csv file
    use the ruby script to create svg file from your csv file
    open svg file in illustrator and format to your liking
    you can see the clustered areas which things to focus on, which ones to consider and which ones to neglect
  • Evaluation session
    Present the diagram with the first rough rating
    Go through each item on the spreadsheet from the highest ranked to the lowest. Discuss if the ranking makes sense.
    In the collated view it is easy to spot items that were ranked controversially. Discuss why people ranked it high or low.
    You can correct the ranking by modifying the points in the “corrected values” columns on the right to reflect the group consensus
    Capture comments and reasons for re-ranking in the spreadsheet

    Things to keep in mind
    The outcome of the rating is NOT gospel.
    First and foremost this rating tool is great to get a first stab at prioritisation (so that you don’t start from a blank slate) and to trigger a discussion and facilitate consensus amongst a group of stakeholders

    Wrapping up
    Create a new diagram based on the corrected ranking values and take it from there.
  • Who should you involve?
    the stakeholders on the project
    it’s possible to have different stakeholders rating only one aspect (their area of concern / expertise) though it might also be interesting to force all stakeholders to put themselves in the shoes of the others and rate on the other axis as well (make them think about user needs)

    Why does it work?
    people feel involved
    their opinion is heard
    easy to spot controversial items and start a discussion around these
    Extra Bonus: you impress the business guys with your excel skills and make them marvel at the functional AND beautiful excel file. And they’ll want to use it as well :) (yes, you talk their language and you talk it with style :)

  • mail:
    twitter: @evalottchen
    download this presentation and the templates here:
  • Prioritising almost anything – UXcamp London

    1. How to make the right stuff bubble to the top A little technique to prioritise almost anything. Alone or with groups.
    2. Prioritise what? Todo lists
    3. Prioritise what? Things you want to see on your trip to Paris
    4. Prioritise what? Business opportunities
    5. Prioritise what? Feature lists
    6. Why prioritise? not that important!! kind of important, important really
    7. And how? Urgency for todo lists hassle of getting it done
    8. And how? Possible enjoyment for the Paris trip how much you can impress your friends
    9. And how? Business importance for business opportunities Market viability
    10. And how? Potential revenue for feature lists Development cost
    11. And how? Business benefit for feature lists User needs
    12. And how? Business benefit 5 4 3 2 1 1 2 3 4 5 User needs
    13. And how? 5 Focus Business benefit 4 3 2 Consider 1 Neglect 1 2 3 4 5 User needs
    14. And how? 5 Focus Business benefit 4 3 2 Consider 1 Neglect middle value x # of items = Max. points 3 5needs 15 1 2 3 4 5 User
    15. Rating s es y pr jo En Im Eiffel Tower 1 Palais de Tokyo 4 Louvre 2 Artazart 5 Canal St. Martin 5 3 Total 17
    16. Rating s es y pr jo En Im Eiffel Tower 1 Palais de Tokyo 4 Louvre 2 Artazart 5 Canal St. Martin 5 Total 15 :)
    17. Using it with a group
    18. 1. Identify all stakeholders
    19. 2. Gather the items to be prioritised
    20. 3. Hold a preparation session
    21. 4. Send out the rating templates
    22. Participant rating sheet
    23. 5. Gather the ratings 2 4 4 5 3 2 5 1 1 3 3 2 1 5 5 3 5 3 3 3 2 4 4 3 1 5 2 4 4 5 1 2 3
    24. Generated Scatter Plot
    25. 6. Hold an evaluation session
    26. Collated ratings spreadsheet
    27. ? ? ? Thanks :) ? !
    28. download this presentation and the templates here: prioritising-almost-anything/
    29. me mail twitter @evalottchen url