Agile Prioritization Techniques

By Hemanta Sundaray on 2022-08-25

To prioritize user stories in the product backlog, the product owner must take into account the following considerations:

  • Cost
  • Time
  • Technical Complexity
  • Customer satisfaction

Some of the techniques that product owners use for prioritization are:

Basic Prioritization

User stories are organized and prioritized based on their value to the customers. User stories are assigned priority levels and grouped according to the priority level.

Priority 1 is the highest priority and those stories are implemented first. Priority 2 user stories are implemented next and priority 3 stories are the last.


MoSCoW is an acronym.

  • M: Must have features

Features that are absolutely necessary.

  • S: Should have features

Important features that are needed.

  • C: Could have features

Features that are nice to have because they would add value.

  • W: Won’t have features.

Features that are not a priority and won’t be implemented.

One way to implement the MosCow method is in a four-section grid by working with customers and stakeholders to figure out what user stories should go in each quadrant. Another way is to lay out the stories in swim lanes.

Dot Voting

User stories are made visible to everyone. Each person is given an equal amount of dots or votes. The number of dots given should be less than the number of stories being voted on. Good guidance is 20%-30% of the total number of stories to force priority.

Each person places their dots or votes on the features or user stories that they see as the most valuable. This can be done anonymously or publicly. User stories are then prioritized according to the highest number of votes received.

Play Money

Each person involved receives money that equals the total amount of budget for the product. User stories are laid out on the table and each person distributes the money that is most valuable to them. Features are then prioritized according to the amount of money received.

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