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Prioritization and Cost of Delay Calculation

Prioritization and Cost of Delay Calculation Power Session


Learn how to prioritize the start order of work to optimize delivered value and minimize the cost of delay. The simple templates and spreadsheets discussed in this session give organizations a fast way to understand and communicate priority without heavy mathematics or financial modeling. Join to hear how to support and coach teams on how to spot prioritization issues, and solve them. By the end of this session, you will be able to facilitate prioritization processes, how to calculate the cost of delay, and explain it to others. 


  1. Economic prioritization principles - Why? When? How?
  2. Ten prioritization techniques - easy to impossible
  3. Three-Zone Triaging - rapid portfolio value sorting using the Prioritization Canvas
  4. Cost of Delay - How to compute using the Cost of Delay spreadsheet
  5. Dependencies - their impact on prioritization
  6. Q & A

Learning objectives

  • What is economic prioritization
  • The continuum of current Agile prioritization techniques their benefits and faults
  • How to apply the "Three-Zone" Triaging technique 
  • How to compute the cost of delay qualitatively and quantitatively
  • How dependencies impact prioritization

About the "Three Zone" Triaging Technique

This technique and template tool rapidly help organizations prioritize and capture the policies that underly why one thing is more important than another to deliver. Its goal is to reduce the analysis time and eliminate the need to perform an economic cost of delay calculations for all but a few items.

The basic concept is people first group work into three zones: 

  • "Gold" - things universally agreed as must be done soon; 
  • "Blue" - things that seem hard to order and opinion varies; 
  • "Green" - things previously deferred and likely will be again!


After grouping, items in the "Blue" zone are looked at again with a focus on ensuring that there isn't something significant missed (should be in gold). A small number of these might need value modeling to determine the impact of not doing them sooner.


As the team makes decisions, the reasoning behind those decisions is captured as a policy to make future decisions easier.

About the Cost of Delay Spreadsheet

This spreadsheet helps prioritize the cost of delay of items using one of three levels of complexity (qualitative, quantitative, and off the charts complex).

A crucial part of this cost of delay analysis is the inclusion of dependencies. Dependencies between items often cause degradation of the ordering of work by eliminating many start order options - it's vital to understand this limitation to use the cost of delay properly.


You can download it here for free:




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