Themes

At the Strategic, Portfolio, Project, Release and Iteration levels, Themes are used to determine relative business priorities. In order to prioritise the themes, the following factors need to be considered and scored relative to other themes at the same level:

Value

This is a simple measure of the perceived business value of having this theme and its desirability to the business.

Cost

Costs will fall into two distinct categories: development costs, which include the full development lifecycle of the theme including its deployment/rollout; and sustainment costs, which include all future costs required to sustain the theme once it has been deployed, including support, help desk, infrastructure etc.

Risk

Risks will fall into two categories: development risks, which could cause the execution to fail or go over budget; and business risks, which could affect the operations of the business.

Knowledge

Knowledge is gained by the teams implementing the themes, and includes what needs to be built and how it should be implemented.

Benefit

A secondary measure of estimating business value is to consider the relative benefit of having implemented the theme against the relative penalty of not implementing it.

It is likely that there will be some overlap between themes at each level. There will likely be dependencies between themes. A hard priority/sequence order is unlikely to emerge, so themes will generally be implemented in parallel. What is important is that the team responsible for prioritizing themes at each level fully understands their business value and priority. They also need to be able to communicate effectively both up and down the hierarchy to coordinate activity across the organization. The ultimate goal of themes is to ensure that the actual implementation teams are always working on the highest priority tasks and delivering true business value as rapidly as possible.

NOTE – at the theme level everything is relative. There is no requirement to determine actual dollar figures for anything. It is enough to know that theme A will deliver about four times the value at half the cost of theme B. The point to remember is that these are all estimates and are likely to be wrong by some error margin. Spending a lot of time trying to get to real dollar figures may not add any real value to the overall prioritization process and is more likely to cloud the real issues and hinder effective decision making.