WSJF in Agile is a technique that helps prioritize work. The method considers the value and duration of the project to assign scores or rankings to each task. The ones that receive the highest scores are those that would be completed first. The strategy aims to prioritize projects with a higher value but a shorter delivery time over those that deliver less value and take longer. 

What is Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)?

WSJF stands for Weighted Shortest Job First. Scaled Agile Framework, or SAFe, uses this tool to assist teams in prioritizing projects. WSJF in Agile uses two main variables: weightage or value of the job given the entire project and its length. 

WSJF assigns a value to every job and divides that by the job's length to get a rank for each. The highest-ranking work is then prioritized.

How is WSJF Used?

Any team can use WSJF to add a sequence to their list of tasks, making it easier for them to complete more important ones. For example, product teams can use WSJF to sort out product backlogs, and marketing teams can prioritize campaigns with the highest ROI.

What is a "Shortest Job"?

WSJF in Agile works on the principle that the task of the highest value and the shortest duration should be completed first. For example, it is better to do 12 one-month-long projects than a 12-month project since the former will add more value. 

What is SAFe?

Agile focuses on continuous product development, workforce, customer preferences, and adaptability. But what is SAFe? Scaled Agile Framework, or SAFe, is a popular agile methodology that takes these principles a step further and additionally focuses on monitoring, speed, and product quality guarantee.

How is WSJF Calculated?

WSJF in Agile is the result obtained upon dividing the cost of delay by job duration or size. The job with the highest value will either carry the highest cost of delay or have the shortest duration.

WSJF Formula

WSJF value = Cost of Delay / Job Size 

Step 1: Calculate the Cost of the Delay

There are three elements in the cost of delay:

  1. Value to the business and/or user: It should be measured with a relative score from 1 to 10.
  2. Time criticality: It indicates the importance of completing the project now. 
  3. Opportunity enablement and risk reduction: Does each job increase business opportunities or reduce future risk?

Teams need to create a scale for each element that should be consistent, for example, 1 to 10, and add these values. The cost of delay will be the result obtained. 

Step 2: Calculate Job Duration (or Size)

It might be tricky to calculate the job duration since it depends on current resource levels, skillsets, dependencies, etc. All these can increase the duration value to a number that might be impossible to calculate using the WSJF in Agile formula. To make it easier, teams can assign a number based on relative estimated workers per month. Job size can be used if the job duration needs to be more specific or clear. 

It is crucial to ensure the score scale for both the cost of delay and job duration should be the same. The size or duration of the lower number will receive a higher priority. 

WSJF Examples

Here is a WSJF example.

Project 1: Cost of delay = $10,000 per month; Duration = 3 months. 

Thus, WSJF = 10,000 / 3 = 3,333

Project 2: Cost of delay = $100,000 per month; Duration = 1 year.

Thus, WSJF = 100,000/12 = 8,333

Project 3: Cost of delay = $300,000 per month; Duration = 2 years

Thus, WSJF = 300,000/24 = 12,500

Hence, project 3 should be prioritized since it has the highest WSJF score.

Benefits of Using WSJF

Using WSJF has several benefits. Here are the main three:

  • Objectivity

WSJF in Agile provides a technique that satisfies the needs of all stakeholders. The technique can reduce conflicts arising from a struggle for resources between teams and increase coordination by logically giving a reason why a specific task has been prioritized.

  • Action

When a substantial amount of time and money has been spent on a task, teams may need to reassess whether it is useful to keep working on it. WSJF in Agile helps determine whether that task is worth the additional expense or whether the resources should be reassigned elsewhere toward a more urgent milestone.

  • Optimization

Managers can organize tasks based on importance and cost, the two factors that matter most. It will lead to the optimization of work and coordination between teams and stakeholders.

WSJF Scoring Work in Practice

To assign a score to each component while calculating the cost of delay and the size or duration of the job, the organization can use exact numbers by using built-in methodologies in project management software to calculate time criticality, value, risk reduction, and so on. 

The other method is developing scores or values by individual teams, practicing it several times with other teams or departments, and establishing a standard score. It could be a scale of 1 to 10 or the Fibonacci sequence. It ensures that all departments and teams are on the same page.

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Key Takeaways

WSJF in Agile is a method that helps teams prioritize tasks by dividing the cost of delay by job size. It helps promote objectivity, action, and resource optimization in the company. Teams can use a pre-established scale or the Fibonacci sequence to determine the approximate values. If you want to learn in-depth about the WSJF technique, opt for Simplilearn’s Certified ScrumMaster Training Course that will explain all Agile and Scrum methodologies in detail to become a certified Scrum Master.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the WSJF job size?

WSJF in Agile needs job duration to prioritize tasks. Certain tasks have concrete timelines which are easy to evaluate, while others have abstract timings. In such cases, job size can be used, such as volume of collateral or volume of code. 

2. What is the weighted shortest job used for?

When a team has a list of initiatives and wants to determine which tasks must be completed first, they use WSJF to prioritize work and maximize economic benefit. 

3. Why should you consider WSJF?

WSJF in Agile could save an organization significant time and money, which would have been lost had they used the 'first come, first serve' method to determine which tasks needed to be completed. Assigning value to each task systematically helps with organization and objectivity.

4. What is the WSJF technique in Scrum?

WSJF technique in Scrum is a method that prioritizes work based on the speed and value of each task. It helps with organization, speed, output quality and coordination among stakeholders.

5. What is the calculation of WSJF?

WSJF is calculated by dividing the cost of delay by job duration or size. The WSJF formula is:

WSJF = Cost of Delay / Job Size or Duration

6. What is the score scale for WSJF?

Organizations can use the built-in score scales used by project management software or create their own scales using the Fibonacci sequence, where 1 is the lowest value. 

7. What is the duration of WSJF?

Duration in WSJF estimates how long a task is expected to be completed. It could be in days, weeks, months or years.

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