Skip to main content

How a business(product owner) decides if a feature is valuable without story points/velocity?

Last post 12:38 am May 23, 2023 by Ian Mitchell
3 replies
04:48 pm May 22, 2023

There exists a product backlog with potential new features for a product.

There exists a scrum backlog with what is expected in the increment, why it is useful, and how it will be accomplished.

This increment provides value. Value for the business as in profit.

  • It is the product owner who attempts to quantify the expected value of a product backlog item?
  • Value = revenue - cost.
  • How is the cost determined and when is the cost of an item determined? (e.g. Before or during sprint planning, During product refinement)

This question is asked because of forum topic discussing story points. I see story points being used as a simple surrogate for cost. The best way to rid one of story points, is to provide alternatives for arriving at cost.

05:31 pm May 22, 2023

 Value for the business as in profit.

  • Value = revenue - cost.

That is definitely one way to look at it.  But what about intrinsic value?  What about value by providing means to enable better relationships with the stakeholders? What about value that improves the quality of life of the stakeholders?  Not all value directly equates to monetary terms.

For example, changing a user interface to provide a drop down list of values vs single select buttons can be something that the users find valuable.  That is more intrinsic value that is not going to be easy to tied to profit. However, if that single request is something that has been requested by a large number of users, it could be more valuable to the company in goodwill than a new feature would be in profit. 

Instead of looking at value as being for the company producing the product, look at value as something provided to the stakeholders. If something is valuable to the stakeholders, it will usually turn itself into some form of profit for the company.  Goodwill can turn into favorable reviews by users, which can lead to more customers.  Goodwill can turn into favorable opinions of the world market which could in turn lead to more people wanting/willing to invest in that organization. True, money makes the world go 'round, but there are a lot of ways to influence the inflow of money.  And those sometime require an investment of money.  So your equation could result in a negative number for "value" but the "value" to the company could be very positive. 

A Product Owner has to be able to make those kind of determinations and the organization needs to support the decisions of the Product Owner as being the right thing for the Product, the stakeholders and ultimately the organization.

08:57 pm May 22, 2023

Story point is a guess made by the developers to create burn down chart. As I wrote many time assigning value to story points is as valid as assigning value to grandmothers hunchers about tomorrows weather.

If Scrum is run in a commercial firm then establishing value is a simple thing. Its a profit - which is a reason commercial firm exist in a first place.

If not, a d if Scrum is run in non profit organization then the product owner would have a harder task of establishing the material benefit of the product made by Scrum team, and its end users(who are essential part of Scrum project), plus the metrics to measure this benefits. The financial benefit in kind can be used, or other metrics if for some reason monetary one does not count.

This particular benefit, measured in the established metric is one and only measurement of features value.

12:38 am May 23, 2023

How a business(product owner) decides if a feature is valuable without story points/velocity?

By validated learning through empirical feedback, each and every Sprint. Scrum is about learning to build the right thing at the right time.

This increment provides value. Value for the business as in profit.

If the business is certain about how to obtain such profit, this understanding of value might be true. Otherwise they risk knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. Innovation may be more valuable.

By posting on our forums you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.

Please note that the first and last name from your member profile will be displayed next to any topic or comment you post on the forums. For privacy concerns, we cannot allow you to post email addresses. All user-submitted content on our Forums may be subject to deletion if it is found to be in violation of our Terms of Use. does not endorse user-submitted content or the content of links to any third-party websites.

Terms of Use may, at its discretion, remove any post that it deems unsuitable for these forums. Unsuitable post content includes, but is not limited to, Professional-level assessment questions and answers, profanity, insults, racism or sexually explicit content. Using our forum as a platform for the marketing and solicitation of products or services is also prohibited. Forum members who post content deemed unsuitable by may have their access revoked at any time, without warning. may, but is not obliged to, monitor submissions.