A simple, effective technique I learned from hydrological engineers on a software project in Africa can dramatically ease your work of prioritizing stories and make it easier to get funding for your projects. This technique, called Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA), is being used today to help over 30 stakeholders in the 9 riparian countries of the Nile region make cooperative decisions about the use of the water of the Nile. It is equally effective in our corporate environments.

In this session, I talk about different criteria we should consider when prioritizing user stories, including corporate goals, the vision for the direction of the product, and the needs of the customer. These criteria are often in competition; Multi-Criteria Analysis is a technique for resolving conflicts of interest in such a way that all stakeholders know that their voice is heard and their needs understood. MCA replaces a gut-level feeling for what the priorities should be with a scientific process for making decisions. It also ensures the needs of all the stakeholders are heard. Finally, I will discuss how to use MCA to: choose one solution from a list of possible solutions, prioritize a product backlog, and make a strong project proposal. The presentation material is woven throughout a facilitated workshop where we learn MCA by doing it.

In the facilitated workshop we will all be stakeholders reaching agreement on the priorities for a set of user stories. The user stories will be provided; our task will be to use MCA to reach agreement on the priorities of the stories. This hands-on experience allows us to implement the knowledge gained from the presentation. You will leave the session with an effective tool for making cooperative decisions in your company.

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