Once upon a morning meeting, while we wasted minutes fleeting,
Over many an issue of status one through four,
While I listened, eyes glazed over, suddenly there came a question,
As if a project sponsor asked which feature we need more.
”Tis prioritization,’ I muttered, ‘asking ’bout the issue’s score –
Only this, and nothing more.
Ah, quite clearly I recall, it was in the VP’s meeting hall,
Where business and developers cajoled and implored.
I looked at our rework allowance – vainly had I sought to balance
New functionality and fixing bugs – bugs that just might stop the show –
For the worst bugs might just crash the server don’t you know –
More importance drives the score.
Each single issue raised the specter of abandoned users
Losing capabilities – precious for their goals and more;
And as my whiteboard marker fluttered on the board
I created buckets of priority on the board –
Each separate bucket of priority on the board; –
We sorted issues by their score.
Post-its placed in each big column; organizing our big war room,
‘Search is broken from command line’ one of the coders roared;
Bucket one or maybe two he claimed, priority it must be highest,
Without it I can’t test my code. Never use it, user muttered,
I only search by person’s address, and search works fine for postal codes,
Better move to bucket four.
Spelling errors, cryptic messages, the wrong colors on the screen,
Urgent, critical, must-have-features, struggle to avoid the sink-hole for
Never will the dev team finish all that we will relegate
To the least important bucket, the one we know as bucket four.
The oft forgotten, if there’s still time, budget busting bucket four.
Keep mine out of bucket four.
Can’t remember if they told me, how important that one can be,
If the moon is one-fourth waning, and it happens on a Monday morn.
‘Impact,’ I said, ‘can be quite large – if that happens as you said;
but divide by fifty to adjust for circumstances you deposed –
it almost never happens in the circumstances you deposed; –
Allocate to bucket four.
Sponsor’s teeth are grinding loudly, neck veins bulging to explode,
‘My favorite feature you’re forgetting!’ I must admit it was ignored.
Politics and process battle, to the victor goes the spoils;
But features sort by prioritization, we all agreed to rank by score –
Leveraging his lofty title, the sponsor forced a change in score –
Removing it from bucket four.
The list grew smaller, one by one, of issues still to be decided,
As we slogged through more discussions of the buckets one through four,
‘We’re not yet balanced,’ I implored, ‘our numbers aren’t realistic.’
With six of ten in bucket one, and one of ten in bucket four –
‘They can not all be most important’ some of them are less not more –
Shift some more to bucket four.
Balancing the less important wasn’t easy first time through,
But we all struggled, sorted, balanced – slowly filling bucket four;
Pointing out the most important still would be the first we tackle
Until we’ve used up time remaining – unless we choose to ask for more –
We fill each timebox in each cycle – unless we choose to ask for more,
Our only hope for bucket four.
Cutting quality is not an option for delivery of our software,
Time and people, money and scope, but we can not risk the product’s core.
Something falling, from the whiteboard, falling slowly toward the floor –
His favorite feature, flashy graphics, written on a post-it note,
Bucket three was somewhat crowded, on the whiteboard by the door,
Hoping to avoid the stigma, tender lifelines for the features,
All avoiding bucket four.
No one noticed as I bent down, picking up the post it note,
Breathlessly I looked around, the project sponsor had grown bored,
Conversing softly about wineries, our politician had not noticed
His post-it was not where it started, on the whiteboard by the door –
Adrenaline was taking over, I was shaking as I crossed the floor
Returning it to bucket four.
The meeting ended moments later, and the minutes were sent out that day,
No one noticed my correction, removing it from near the door;
The feature was where it belonged, politics be damned I chuckled
Priority would win this battle, with flashy graphics in bucket four –
Opinions lose to facts in battle. Lowest value? Bucket four.
Issues we now sort by score.