Success sliders

One of the first activities we undertake at the beginning of a development project is having our clients take the team through their vision for the project. Sometimes our clients need a little help forming that vision, especially for a green fields project.

Yesterday we ran a couple of activities with a new client to help them define what will make the project a success. The activities we chose were: Success sliders and the Press Release exercise.  In this post we’ll take you through how Success sliders works and how it helps to further define what will constitute project success for our client.

Method

Step 1 – Set up a poster or whiteboard in a grid of 6 rows by 5 columns.

Step 2 – Label the rows with your success factors. In this case we’ve chosen subjects common to software development projects. Number the columns 1-5, 1 being least important and 5 being most important.

Step 3 – Place post it notes in column 3 of each row. Tell your workshop attendees that they are now invited to rank the success factors from most important to least important for each item. The only constraints are that the total value of rankings must equal 18 and they must work together to agree.

 

success sliders

Outcome

Above is an example of how our client ranked these items during the workshop we ran yesterday.

Not only is this a good way of determining which success factors are more important than others it’s also a really good first look at prioritisation. People often struggle with prioritisation and the tendency is to regard every item as the most important. Placing a constraint on the total numerical value forces the team to consider what’s really most important and helps them to understand the nature of trade offs.

 

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4 Comments

  1. derDoubleD
    Jul 24, 2014 @ 03:18:06

    Hey.

    Thanks for sharing this great idea, We have problems with prioritization in our backlog and in the sprint backlogs. so maybe this idea could help us.

    You used this success slider for each item (e.g. Epic or User Story) and generate a better understanding of what is important for each item, right?

    How do you take the next step from this deeper understanding to a prioritized sprint backlog?

    Are the success factors meant as the success-factors for the items itself oder the factors of the item for the whole project? For example: Is building Item A a success-factor for the satisfaction for the stakeholders or is it most importent for item A to satisfy the stakeholder. (hope it’s understandable what I mean).

  2. Dave Furlani
    Jul 24, 2014 @ 20:37:23

    I’ve used a similar approach where a similarly small number of key success factors included staff morale, avoiding negative publicity, and business process impact. These were then weighted and each stakeholder allowed to rate each item. The totals for each person were calculated, combined and averaged to give us an overall priority. This worked well as everyone had an equal say.

    That said, I find that if the estimates are done and the tool supports a cumulative tome total, I can give the client/customer/user representative the constraint of filling the sprint bucket during each sprint planning session.

  3. Kirstin Kirstin
    Jul 24, 2014 @ 21:13:27

    I think that’s good giving everyone an equal say – especially if there are less vocal members of the team. In our case the client was represented by two people so they were able to decide together on weightings.

  4. Kirstin Kirstin
    Jul 24, 2014 @ 21:18:46

    This exercise was based on success factors for the whole project ahead of writing user stories and prioritising the backlog.

    Prioritisation of the backlog is something we constantly work with our clients during each backlog refining session. Take a look at this previous posts for some ideas on exercises to aid prioritisation http://www.boost.co.nz/blog/2011/05/story-mapping-prioritisation/. Hope this helps :)

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