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Requirement Prioritisation using DAME

Sometimes little means more. This little-known and free Excel add-in can do exactly what many powerful propriatary software packages. DAME stands for Decision Analysis Module for Excel.

If you haven't worked with DAME before, here is a short instruction manual.
Why don't you make your life easier. Using this little-known free Excel add-in you can save thousands. DAME stands for Decision Analysis Module for Excel.

Let's say you lead a development team and you prioritize the development features. Based on the Pareto principle you know that 80% of of effort will be spent on only 20% of features. In other words you need to spend the bulk of your money on one fifth of the most important features. You narrow the feature list down to only say 10 most important ones - those that are an absolute Must Have for the customer.  However you need a better picture when it comes to prioritizing those 10 key requirements.  Evaluations is being carried out by 5 experts including a customer representative. Their estimates must be synthetized into a final outcome to have a better idea how the budget should be shaped for the next 'iteration', sprint, run, or whatever agile terminology is used at your organisation.

One way of doing this could be by using DAME.
Let's say, with a certain amount of simplification, that you already have a complete and up-to-date requirements breakdown list with say 12 categories of user requirements. The requirements are coded by: a number -  representing the category and a letter - standing for the actual requirement.  E.g. 1a, 4c, etc.

You know that the 10 most important requirements for the moment are:
1=> 1a - users able to record, view, edit info of all clients who have ever entered service
2=> 1b - records will be modeled on a used government reporting tool
3=> 3a - users can record clinic activity (prerequisite in applying for gov grants)
4=> 3b - clinic info will be categorized
5=> 5a - information is confidential (storing on secure server, only for the righ eyes)
6=> 6a - communications book ready with no editing allowed (24/7 shifts need to pass critical information)
7=> 8a - client exclusion list - a list of clients currently banned from service available from anywhere to everybody
8=> 10b - assigned staff will be able to edit and delete client information
9=> 11d - Client will have a special ID that matches the currently used government reporting tool
10=> 11f - One database will be shared by two physical facilities (on different physical addresses). Each organisation will only see data related to it.

Now let's assume you think that those requirements should be seen as follows (1 = most important; 10 = least important):
Order; Requirement Code; Rank

1. 11d
2. 5a
3. 8a
4. 3a
5. 6a
6. 11f
7. 10b
8. 1a
9. 3b
10. 1b

That's your evaluation. However there are 4 more stakeholders involved and they might see the whole thing differently.

This problem (when being resolved in DAME) calls for the following input:
10 variants (10 requirements being evaluated)
5 scenarios (5 decision-makers or evaluators)
1 criterion (highest likelyhood that the customer will be happy if a particular requirment is met by the end of the next development cycle; it is a kind of an expert judgement) The important thing here is that is is a minimizing criterion because (you rank the requirements by your judgement from 1 to 10 where 1 is most important and 10 is least important - that means - the less the better)

You decide that the weights (decision-making power) of the stakeholders (based on their position) is as follows:

Customer Rep = 50%
Project Mngr = 20%
Developer = 20%
Tester = 5%
Coordinator 5%

The results from the 5 decision-making parties are then synthesized into one final outcome for each requirement. This way you receive the final ranks for your ten most important requirements:

1. 11f = 0.206557377
2. 11d = 0.133911394
3. 10b = 0.133518493
4. 3b = 0.105744479
5. 5a = 0.093889717
6. 1a = 0.059748002
7. 8a = 0.056868988
8. 1b = 0.05641512
9. 6a = 0.053082238
10. 3a = 0.050264192

If your budget is $100,000 you split it against the weights to see how much money should go towards meeting each requirment:

1. 11f = 0.206557377 -> $20,656
2. 11d = 0.133911394 -> $13,391
3. 10b = 0.133518493 -> $13,352
4. 3b = 0.105744479 -> $10,574
5. 5a = 0.093889717 -> $9,389
6. 1a = 0.059748002 -> $5,975
7. 8a = 0.056868988 -> $5,687
8. 1b = 0.05641512 -> $5,642
9. 6a = 0.053082238 -> $5,308
10. 3a = 0.050264192 -> $5,026

The above example is simplified of course for demonstration purposes only it is only to show that using tools such as DAME is elegant, quick and neat, and most importantly, it doesn't cost anything.

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