Product Management

Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)

What is Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)?
Definition of Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)
Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) is a prioritization model used to sequence epics and features by calculating a composite score based on the relative cost of delay and the duration. It optimizes value delivery by balancing the strategic importance and time criticality of initiatives against the size of the undertaking, within the realistic constraints of the team's capacity and capabilities.

Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) is a prioritization model used in the field of product management and operations. This model is designed to aid in decision-making processes, particularly in the context of Agile development methodologies. WSJF is a calculation that quantifies the relative importance of different jobs, allowing teams to prioritize their work based on the highest value and lowest effort.

WSJF is a crucial component of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), a set of organization and workflow patterns intended to guide enterprises in scaling lean and agile practices. By using WSJF, organizations can make more informed decisions about the sequence of work, ensuring that the most valuable and least time-consuming jobs are completed first. This article will delve into the intricacies of WSJF, its application in product management and operations, and its benefits.

Overview of Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)

The WSJF model is based on the principle of 'Cost of Delay' and 'Job Size'. Cost of Delay is a measure of the impact that delaying a job would have on its overall value. It considers factors like user-business value, time criticality, and risk reduction-opportunity enablement value. Job Size, on the other hand, refers to the effort required to complete a job, which can be estimated in terms of time, resources, or complexity.

WSJF is calculated by dividing the Cost of Delay by the Job Size. The result is a numerical value that represents the priority of a job. The higher the WSJF score, the higher the priority. This approach ensures that jobs that deliver high value and require less effort are prioritized over jobs that deliver less value or require more effort.

Components of WSJF

The WSJF calculation involves several components, each of which contributes to the final priority score. The first component is the User-Business Value, which represents the perceived value of the job to the end user or the business. This value is typically determined through discussions with stakeholders and users, and can be subjective.

The second component is Time Criticality, which measures the importance of timely completion of the job. Jobs that are time-sensitive or have deadlines associated with them have high Time Criticality. The third component is Risk Reduction-Opportunity Enablement (RR|OE) Value, which quantifies the extent to which the job reduces risk or enables new opportunities. The Job Size, as mentioned earlier, represents the effort required to complete the job.

Calculating WSJF

The calculation of WSJF is a straightforward process once the values for the components have been determined. The Cost of Delay (CoD) is calculated by adding the User-Business Value, Time Criticality, and RR|OE Value. This sum is then divided by the Job Size to obtain the WSJF score.

It's important to note that all the components of the WSJF calculation are typically estimated values. They are subjective and can vary based on the perspectives of different stakeholders. Therefore, it's crucial to involve all relevant parties in the estimation process to ensure a balanced and accurate WSJF score.

Application of WSJF in Product Management & Operations

WSJF is a powerful tool in the realm of product management and operations, particularly in Agile environments. It helps product managers and teams prioritize their backlog, ensuring that they are working on the most valuable jobs first. This can lead to improved efficiency, better use of resources, and increased value delivery.

WSJF can also be used in operational decision-making. For instance, when there are multiple operational tasks to be performed, WSJF can help determine the sequence in which they should be tackled. This can help reduce operational bottlenecks and improve overall operational efficiency.

Using WSJF in Backlog Prioritization

In Agile product development, the product backlog is a list of all the jobs or tasks that need to be done. Prioritizing this backlog can be a challenging task, given the dynamic nature of product development and the often competing interests of different stakeholders. WSJF provides a systematic and objective way to prioritize the backlog.

By calculating the WSJF score for each job in the backlog, product managers can rank the jobs based on their relative importance. This ensures that the team is always working on the most valuable jobs, leading to improved value delivery and customer satisfaction.

Using WSJF in Operational Decision-Making

WSJF can also be applied in the context of operational decision-making. In any operation, there are usually multiple tasks that need to be performed, each with its own value and effort requirements. WSJF can help determine the sequence in which these tasks should be performed to maximize value and minimize effort.

For instance, in a manufacturing operation, WSJF can be used to prioritize production runs based on their value to the business and the effort required to complete them. This can help reduce production bottlenecks, improve resource utilization, and increase operational efficiency.

Benefits of Using WSJF

WSJF offers several benefits in the context of product management and operations. First and foremost, it provides a systematic and objective way to prioritize work. This can lead to improved decision-making, better use of resources, and increased value delivery.

WSJF also promotes transparency and collaboration. By involving all relevant stakeholders in the WSJF calculation process, it ensures that everyone's perspectives are considered. This can lead to better alignment and understanding among team members and stakeholders.

Improved Decision-Making

WSJF provides a clear and objective basis for decision-making. By quantifying the value and effort of each job, it allows teams to make informed decisions about what to work on next. This can lead to more efficient use of resources and improved value delivery.

Furthermore, WSJF can help teams avoid the common pitfall of focusing on low-value, easy jobs. By prioritizing jobs based on their WSJF score, teams are encouraged to tackle high-value, high-effort jobs first, leading to greater overall value delivery.

Promotion of Transparency and Collaboration

WSJF promotes transparency and collaboration by involving all relevant stakeholders in the prioritization process. This ensures that everyone's perspectives are considered and that the resulting priorities reflect the collective wisdom of the team.

By making the prioritization process transparent, WSJF also helps build trust among team members and stakeholders. Everyone can see how priorities are determined and can contribute to the process, leading to greater buy-in and commitment to the prioritized jobs.

Conclusion

Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) is a powerful prioritization model that can significantly enhance decision-making in product management and operations. By quantifying the value and effort of each job, it allows teams to prioritize their work based on the highest value and lowest effort. This can lead to improved efficiency, better use of resources, and increased value delivery.

WSJF promotes transparency and collaboration, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are involved in the prioritization process. This can lead to better alignment and understanding among team members and stakeholders, and ultimately, to more successful product development and operational outcomes.