The SAFe® Solution for Prioritization – WSJF Meets Jira

The SAFe® Solution for Prioritization - WSJF Meets Jira - banner

When working with SAFe®, it is important to always keep track of your prioritization. Imagine a backlog full of great ideas for new features that would help your customers a lot, but you don’t know where to start. There is a risk that no feature or maybe a feature with lower priority will be developed and more important features stay in the backlog untouched - while customers wait for the one feature they desperately need.

Luckily, SAFe® provides a neat solution for this - the Weighted Shortest Job First method (WSJF). Using WSJF provides a prioritization model based on the Cost of Delay and the individual job size, which can be very helpful when optimizing flow.
In SAFe®, WSJF finds use when prioritizing Features, Capabilities, and Epics from the backlog on different levels. Of course, for prioritization there are no definite numbers to compare, so WSJF makes use of the simplified Fibonacci numbers as commonly used in Agile estimations. When estimating the value of any individual feature, the values are compared against each other - so the numbers used are estimates, but provide a good base for a comparison between issues.

It might seem strange to use estimated numbers for prioritization, but with Fibonacci-Numbers it’s a lot easier to compare issues and their priorities with each other. To understand why, we first need to understand how WSJF is calculated.
When estimating the User-Business Value, Time Criticality and Risk Reduction and/or Opportunity Enablement, the principle of relativity finds use - no definite values.

SAFe WSJF calculation

User-Business Value:
How much do customers or our business profit from the feature?

Time Criticality:
Is the task due on a specific date (e.g. event)?

Risk Reduction and/or Opportunity Enablement:
Are there any risks that will be reduced when the task is completed? Will it lead to new competencies that may be useful for other tasks?

WSJF in Jira in no time with Agile Hive

In many companies, Jira provides the platform for task management in agile environments. Unfortunately, Jira does not provide a way to make use of the opportunities WSJF offers out of the box. While it is possible with the help of workarounds, they are tedious and time-consuming, so many companies working with SAFe try to use WSJF in Jira and end up not using it at all.

With the Jira app Agile Hive you can use WSJF with all its functionalities and use its results to keep your backlog in an order that supports the delivery of the right value at the right time. As a Jira app, it is easy to implement without affecting existing tickets and offers you all important SAFe functionalities to support your working routine.
Using WSJF in your daily business doesn’t require any additional steps. Assignees of issues can simply use WSJF as a reference for prioritization.
With Agile Hive you can also include additional fields in your board that help you gather all needed information for WSJF in a single place.

Once Agile Hive is installed, the WSJF can be automatically calculated based on the values set when the Ticket is created - directly in your Jira instance. Of course, Agile is all about responding to change - consider the WSJF values an ongoing representation of the changing parameters defining your work items.

SAFe WSJF in Jira

The calculated WSJF value is visualized in the Backlog of ART items in the Breakout Board to help with the planning:

SAFe calculated WSJF value in backlog of ART items in breakout board

SAFe WSJF in Unplanned ART Isues

The tasks are now automatically prioritized based on the WSJF value, which can help to create a common understanding in your team.

After all, WSJF is a very helpful solution for backlog organization. As Jira doesn’t provide a simple way to implement it, Apps such as Agile Hive are an easy way to keep your backlog organized.

If you want to learn more about Agile Hive, feel free to contact us for a free demo!

SAFe® in Jira: Get to know Agile Hive now!

Would you like to know more about Agile Hive and the software-supported implementation of SAFe®? We would be happy to discuss your requirements for enterprise-wide agile product development and product management with you. Take a look at our Implementation Project documentation to see an overview of what an implementation would entail.
Get in touch with us today and let us demonstrate how it works in a personal session.

Further Reading

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