Context

Let’s imagine very beginning of large project or its another phase. There is a couple of long months of software development in front of you. Client is going to visit you at your office. You look together at a terribly long list of User Stories and then the client states that … everything is important! You know perfectly well that “everything” equals a few years of working on the product … It’s time for MVP – it may come with the help. “Yes, I have heard about it, but in this case everything is MVP” – the client responds.

How to get out of this horrible, but how common situation? Fortunately, there are a lot of tools that can save you. Some of them, however, require long-term preparation, which is why I would like to present one of the simplest.

What do we need?

  1. Printed list of features – yes, functional features, such that give a real value to the project. No, database optimization is not such a feature. When we have at least roughly defined User Stories, it should be easy to extract them.
  2. Printed “toy” bills of various denominations: preferably a dozen or so $ 1, $ 2, $ 5, $ 10 and a few $ 20, $ 50 and one $ 100. In the further part of the article, I will tell you why. Protip: we can also use banknotes from games like Monopoly.
  3. Customer (or customers) ready to make the final decision ;-).

Game rules

The rules are extremely simple. The customer has 100 $ at his disposal and has to “spend” (dispose of) the most important features. The variety of banknotes is extremely important. There are some clever players who can spend $ 1 per 100 features ;-). To prevent this, we limit the number of banknotes of the same denominations so as to enforce prioritization.

You will be surprised how the aspect of money works for customers. After a few minutes, it turns out that there are more and less important things

The exercise can be carried out with one person representing the client as well as with several – in the second case, the whole session may last longer due to stormy discussions. The effect at the end, however, is the same.

When it turns out that we get 30 features at the end and it is too much, we can try for the second round and choose only from thirty.

Summary

On the Internet you can find a lot of online tools to do this exercise without printing anything, but the physical use of banknotes in my opinion, introduces this additional factor that increases the effectiveness of the whole game.

Please share in the comments your experiences and thoughts on the subject.