Incorporating Learning and Expected Cost of Change in Prioritizing Features on Agile Projects

  • R. Scott Harris
  • Mike Cohn
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4044)


Very little has been written to date on how to prioritize and sequence the development of new features and capabilities on an agile software development project. Agile product managers have been advised to prioritize based on “business value.” While this seems an appropriate goal, it is vague and provides little specific guidance. Our approach to optimizing “business value” uses tactics to minimize costs and maximize benefits through strategic learning. In order to provide specific and actionable advice to agile product managers, we present two guidelines. These guidelines are meant to provide a set of considerations and a process by which an agile product manager can achieve the goal of optimizing “business value” while recognizing that different product managers will vary in their notions of what “business value” is.


Analytic Hierarchy Process Product Manager User Story Agile Software Development Strategic Learning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Schwaber, K., Beedle, M.: Agile Software Development with Scrum. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River (2001)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Beck, K.: Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace change. Addison-Wesley, Upper Saddle River (1999)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Palmer, S.R., Felsing, J.M.: A Practical Guide to Feature-Driven Development. Addison-Wesley, Upper Saddle River (2002)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Stapleton, J.: DSDM: Business-Focused Development, 2nd edn. Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River (2003)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cohn, M.: User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development. Addison-Wesley, Upper Saddle River (2004) Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Poppendieck, T.: The Agile Customer’s Toolkit at,
  7. 7.
    Andrea, J.: An Agile Request For Proposal (RFP) Process. In: Proceedings of the Agile Development Conference, Salt Lake City, UT, pp. 152–161 (2003)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Augustine, S.: Great COTS! Implementing Packaged Software With Agility. In: Presentation at Agile Development Conference, Sydney, Australia (2004)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Harris, R.S., Cohn, M.: The Role of Learning and Expected Cost of Change in Prioritizing Features on Agile Projects, Ms (2006), Available at:
  10. 10.
    Hayak, F.A.: The Use of Knowledge in Society. American Economic Review XXXV(4), 519–530 (1945)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Jensen, M.C., Meckling, W.H., Baker, G.P., Wruck, K.H.: Coordination, Control, and the Management of Organizations: Course Notes, pp. 98–098. Harvard Business School Working Paper (1999)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Jensen, M.C., Meckling, W.H.: Specific and General Knowledge, and Organizational Structure. In Werin, L., Wijkander, H. (eds.) Contract Economics. Blackwell, Oxford (1992); Also published in Journal of Applied Corporate Finance (Fall 1995); Jensen, M.C.: Foundations of Organizational Strategy. Harvard University Press, Boston (1998)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Schuler, D., Namioka, A. (eds.): Participatory Design: Principles and practice. Erlbaum, Hillsdale (1993)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Constantine, L.L., Lockwood, L.A.D.: Software for Use. Addison-Wesley, Reading (1999)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Karlsson, J., Ryan, K.: A Cost-Value Approach for Prioritizing Requirements. IEEE Software 14(5), 67–74 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Saaty, T.L.: The Analytic Hierarchy Process. McGraw-Hill, New York (1980)MATHGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Karlsson, J., Wohlin, C., Regnell, B.: An Evaluation of Methods for Prioritizing Software Requirements. Journal of Information and Software Technology 39(14–15), 939–947 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Scott Harris
    • 1
  • Mike Cohn
    • 2
  1. 1.Montana State University–Billings 
  2. 2.Mountain Goat Software, LLC 

Personalised recommendations