Requirements Prioritization Technique: Timeboxing/Budgeting

According to the BABOK® Guide, there are five business analysis techniques you should consider when prioritizing your requirements during requirements analysis. I think that these techniques are an excellent addition to the skill set of any effective business analyst.  We have already looked at one of these techniques in a previous post, MoSCoW Analysis. The remaining four techniques to consider are Timeboxing/Budgeting, Voting, Decision Analysis and Risk Analysis. Why don’t we take a closer look at another requirements prioritization technique right now,  like Timeboxing/Budgeting? We can have a look at the remaining three prioritization techniques in subsequent blogs.

This technique is used specifically for prioritizing requirements and is defined as part of this specific task and knowledge area in the BABOK® Guide.  Timeboxing and budgeting prioritizes requirements for implementation based upon the allocation of a fixed resource, usually either time (timeboxing) or money (budgeting). This technique is most effective when it is framed by the defined solution scope for the project.

The BABOK® Guide contains three approaches that you can use to decide which requirements should be included in a timeboxed or budgeted iteration or implementation. I think of these as the optimistic, pessimistic and middle-of-the road ways to decide which requirements are most important. Let’s step through them quickly right now.

All In: This approach asks you or your group to assign a duration (in time) or cost to implement each requirement that is being prioritized. You start with all eligible requirements in the box and then remove them one-by-one, based upon how you plan to meet the schedule dates or budget limit. I think of this as the optimists approach to timeboxong or budgeting, since everything is in the hat at the beginning and we toss out requirements that are not needed or that do not fit our prioritization criteria.

All Out:  You r your group assigns a duration (in time) or a cost to implement each requirement that is being prioritized. Start with all eligible requirements out of the box and then add them to the box one-by-one until you meet the schedule dates or budget limit. This is the pessimist’s “glass half full” approach since everything is out until the group decides which requirements are prioritized and in the hat.

Selective: For a more balanced or middle-of-the-road approach to prioritizing requirements, you can identify high priority requirements that have been added to the calendar or budget.  The group may then add or remove requirements one-by-one in order to meet the schedule dates or the budget limit.

Well, that is our closer look at one of the recommended techniques for prioritizing requirements, Timeboxing/Budgeting.  I have found this technique to be of great help on many projects, particularly for getting stakeholders engaged and realistic about prioritizing the requirements for a project relative to the project scope, schedule or budget. Please give a shout if you have another BABOK® Guide technique you would like to explore in more detail!

Susan Weese

Business analysts are increasingly becoming the critical liaisons between business and solution development (oftentimes IT), so they must communicate and relate with equal effectiveness throughout all levels of an organization. Download this free White Paper to see which five common obstacles business analysts face and how to address them to ensure success.

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