10 Best Prioritization Techniques for Agile in 2024

Author: Karolina Matyska

Effective prioritization techniques are critical to the success of any agile team. With so many competing demands and limited resources, organizing tasks and managing competing priorities can often be a daunting and complex process.

In this article, I will explore some of the best agile prioritization techniques and provide you with the tools and insights that will help you understand what’s most important.

best prioritization techniques for agile teams

The best prioritization techniques


The RICE method is a prioritization framework designed to help project managers make informed decisions about which tasks to tackle first. RICE stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort.

task prioritization techniques

How it works

To assess the priority level of your task, take the following steps:

1. Calculate Reach: Estimate how many people a task will affect within a specific time period.

2. Calculate Impact: The point of calculating impact is to focus on tasks that will actually make a difference to your business. To rate the potential impact of a specific task, assign a score to it from 0.25 (minimal) to 3 (massive): 0.25 for minimal impact, 0.5 for low impact, 1 for medium impact, 2 for high impact, 3 for massive impact.

3. Calculate Confidence: Assign a confidence score based on how much data supports your estimates, ranging from 50% (low) to 100% (high):

  • 100% Confidence (High): You have solid metrics and research backing up your estimates for Reach, Impact, and Effort.
  • 80% Confidence (Medium): You have data supporting two of the criteria, like Reach and Effort, but less certainty about Impact.
  • 50% Confidence (Low): You’re unsure about any of the criteria. Reach and Impact might be overestimated, and Effort could be underestimated.
  • Below 50%: Anything under 50% confidence is a total guess.

4. Calculate Effort: Determine the effort required in person-months, which is the work that an individual person needs to do within a month. Evaluate if a task is task-dependent and how it affects the prioritization.

5. Calculate the RICE Score: Use the formula (Reach x Impact x Confidence) / Effort to get the RICE score, then prioritize tasks based on these scores.

Reach Impact Confidence Effort - Rice technique

Benefits of this prioritization technique:

  • Relies on measurable criteria rather than gut feelings
  • Promotes informed and objective decisions
  • Provides clear reasoning in the prioritization process

Drawbacks of this prioritization method:

  • It’s time-consuming
  • The information required to apply this technique is not always available

2. Eisenhower Matrix: 4 Quadrants time management for urgent and important tasks

The Time Management Matrix (aka The 4 Quadrants of Time Management) was initially created by President Dwight Eisenhower and later popularized by Stephen Covey in his productivity book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. It’s a productivity tool that helps individuals and businesses prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance.

prioritization examples

How it works

The Eisenhower prioritization technique helps to categorize your tasks into four quadrants according to their urgency and importance in the following way:

  • Quadrant 1: Urgent and important. Urgent tasks that require your immediate attention and are critical to the business (i.e., a deadline or crises).
  • Quadrant 2: Not urgent but important. Tasks that chip into your important long-term goals but don’t require immediate action, i.e., planning. Once these important tasks are prioritized, other tasks can be sequenced based on their dependencies and overall project goals.
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent but not important. Tasks that require you to be involved immediately but are not important in the long term perspective, i.e. e-mails or calls.
  • Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important. Tasks that are not directly related to your projects; they are neither urgent nor important for the business’s success.

To implement the method, list all your tasks and assign each of them to one of the 4 quadrants based on their urgency and importance.

Benefits of this prioritization technique

  • Enables effective time allocation
  • Provides information about the tasks that should be delegated
  • Helps to minimize time-wasters

Drawbacks of this prioritization method:

  • Listing tasks and assigning them into categories can be time-consuming
  • Categorizing tasks based on importance is pretty subjective

3. ABCDE method

The ABCDE method is quite similar to the Eisenhower matrix technique as it includes assigning tasks into categories based on the prioritization criteria like their importance and urgency. However, in this case, there are 5 categories:

  • A (high importance and urgency)
  • B (medium importance and urgency)
  • C (low importance but high urgency)
  • D (low importance and urgency)
  • E (tasks to eliminate or delegate).
ABCDE prioritization method

How it works

  1. Step 1: List all the tasks.
  2. Step 2: Assign them to the 5 groups: A, B, C, D or E.
  3. Step 3: Prioritize tasks and plan your work accordingly:
  • Focus on tasks A first.
  • Schedule tasks B.
  • Allocate time for category C tasks to maintain work-life balance.
  • Delegate category D tasks to others to streamline your workload.
  • Eliminate or minimize E tasks.


  • Puts focus on task delegation
  • Helps to organize your to-do list in a neat way


  • The rigid nature of this prioritization framework may not accommodate the dynamic nature of some tasks
  • As there is not always an opportunity to delegate tasks to other team members, some tasks might be neglected

Read our post if you need to delegate tasks effectively.

4. MoSCoW prioritization

MoSCoW agile Prioritization technique is often used by product managers to create a product roadmap and determine which priority each product feature should be assigned. However, you can easily use this prioritization technique to manage your workload and tasks, too.

MoSCoW is an acronym that stands for Must-have, Should-have, Could-have, Won’t-have.

MoSCoW prioritization method

How it works

Assign each feature request, weekly task, or daily task to the M, S, C, or W categories to create a prioritized task list:

  • Must have: requirements that are crucial to your project, i.e. must have features in your product. These are your most important tasks, essential for achieving long-term goals.
  • Should have: requirements that are important but not urgent to deliver on a deadline.
  • Could have: you can benefit from getting these requirements done, but it won’t impact your project in case you don’t.
  • Won’t Have: you don’t need to worry about these requirements, it’s possible to implement them later.

Based on that, you will clearly see what are the most important tasks. The MoSCoW method will help you put a strategic focus on it and plan work for each team member and yourself accordingly.

Benefits of the MOSCOW prioritization technique:

  • Helps to manage customer’s expectations
  • Gives product teams focus on highest priority tasks
  • Helps to prioritize the task list according to customer value, market research or key objectives of the business
  • Forces quick decision-making (Read: Why quick decision making is important)


  • It’s a pretty subjective prioritization technique
  • It requires careful consideration and sometimes an iterative process to ensure that the task list is structured in a proper way

Did you know that quick-decision making is critical to succeed? Find why in our article.

5. ICE Score model for agile

The ICE scoring model is used to prioritize features and ideas by evaluating three values for each project: Impact, Confidence, and Ease. These values are rated from 1 to 10 and multiplied to produce the ICE Score, with higher scores indicating higher value.

What does Impact, Confidence and Ease stand for? From 1 to 10…

  • Impact: how much will the project move to achieve its goal;
  • Confidence: the certainty that the project will have the desired result;
  • Ease: level of effort to complete the project.

The formula for the ICE Score is: Impact x Confidence x Ease = ICE Score

How it works

  1. Make a list of ideas. Create a list of features or ideas that need prioritization.
  1. Evaluate Impact. Rate each feature or idea on a scale of 1 to 10 based on how much it will contribute to achieving the project’s goal.
  2. Evaluate Confidence. Rate each feature or idea on a scale of 1 to 10 based on the certainty that it will achieve the desired result.
  3. Evaluate Ease. Rate each feature or idea on a scale of 1 to 10 based on the level of effort required to complete it.
  4. Calculate ICE Score. Multiply the ratings for Impact, Confidence, and Ease for each feature or idea to obtain the ICE Score.
  5. Prioritize feature ideas based on ICE Score. Rank the features or ideas by their ICE Scores, with higher scores indicating higher priority.


  • Quick method to prioritize tasks
  • Simplifies decision-making by breaking down evaluation into three straightforward criteria
  • Provides a structured approach to compare diverse features and ideas


  • The ratings for Impact, Confidence, and Ease can be subjective, which might potentially skew the ICE Score
  • Results may change often due to the subjective nature of the ratings, which requires an iterative approach

6. Value versus Complexity/Effort matrix

The Value vs. Complexity/Effort Matrix helps product managers evaluate new ideas by analyzing their long-term value against the complexity and effort required to execute them. This method organizes tasks into four quadrants for better prioritization.

How it works

  1. List all the ideas. Start by listing all the new ideas or features you want to evaluate.
  2. Evaluate Value. Rate each idea based on its long-term value to the project or product. Consider factors like customer satisfaction, revenue potential, and strategic importance.
  3. Estimate Complexity. Evaluate the complexity and effort required to implement each idea. This includes development time, resource allocation, and potential risks.
  4. Map to Quadrants: Plot each idea on the matrix with Value on one axis and Complexity/Effort on the other. This creates four quadrants:
    • High Value, Low Complexity: Prioritize these ideas first.
    • High Value, High Complexity: Plan carefully and allocate resources as needed.
    • Low Value, Low Complexity: Consider these if you have extra resources.
    • Low Value, High Complexity: Typically, these ideas are low priority and may be discarded.


  • The matrix provides a clear visual representation of where each idea stands, making it easier to prioritize.
  • Helps ensure that resources are allocated to ideas that offer the most value for the least effort.
  • Encourages considering both the benefits and the costs of implementing ideas.


  • Personal opinions can heavily influence the ratings for value and complexity, potentially skewing results.
  • Without specific calculations, the assessments may be imprecise and vary between team members.
Which tasks take up most of your time?

Start tracking your time with Timeular to identify the most time-consuming tasks

7. Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)

Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) is an agile prioritization method used mainly in medium-to-large companies. It estimates the priority of each feature by dividing the cost of delay by the job duration, ensuring strategic priorities are met and dependencies managed effectively.

What are the cost of delay and job duration?

  • Cost of delay: the company defines how much it can lose if the feature isn’t established by its user-business value, time criticality, and risk reduction;
  • Job duration: defines the time needed for implementation

How it works

  1. List features. Compile a list of all features or tasks that need evaluation.
  2. Assess cost of delay for each feature. This includes:
    • User-business value: How much value does the feature add for users and the business
    • Time criticality: How important is the timing for implementing this feature?
    • Risk reduction/opportunity enablement: How much does this feature reduce risks or enable new opportunities?
  3. Estimate job duration for each feature. This includes:
    • Non-complex features with high added value.
    • Complex features with high added value.
    • Non-complex features with lesser added value.
    • Complex features with lesser added value.
  4. Calculate WSJF Score. Divide the cost of delay by the job duration for each feature to get the WSJF score.
  5. Prioritize features. Rank the features based on their WSJF scores, with higher scores indicating higher priority.


  • Ensures that the most valuable and time-critical features are prioritized.
  • Helps allocate resources to features that offer the highest return on investment relative to their implementation time.
  • Addresses high-priority features first, effectively managing dependencies and ensuring smoother project flow.


  • Determining accurate cost of delay and job duration can be time-consuming.
  • The evaluation of cost of delay components can be subjective, potentially leading to biased prioritization.
  • Needs frequent reassessment to stay relevant as project conditions change.

8. Kano model for customer satisfaction

Using the Kano Model is a game-changer for prioritizing features that really boost customer satisfaction. It helps businesses focus on what matters most to their customers, leading to better, more customer-centric products.

By categorizing features into 5 categories listed below, the Kano Model offers a unique way to enhance products, making it easy to see what has the biggest impact and what actions to prioritize.

kano model

What are the 5 categories of the Kano model?

  1. Must-be Quality: Features that customers automatically expect.
  2. One-dimensional Quality: Features that directly impact customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
  3. Attractive Quality: Features that delight customers and enhance satisfaction.
  4. Indifferent Quality: Features that have no impact on customer satisfaction.
  5. Reverse Quality: Features that can cause dissatisfaction if present.

How it works

  1. Place each feature into one of the five Kano categories.
  2. Gather customer feedback to accurately categorize each feature based on their responses and experiences.
  3. Prioritize based on categories:
  • Focus on Must-be and One-dimensional qualities to ensure basic and expected needs are met. One-dimensional qualities often include performance features, which are high investments that significantly enhance customer satisfaction.
  • Invest in Attractive qualities to exceed customer expectations and increase satisfaction.
  • Avoid spending resources on Indifferent and Reverse qualities.


  • By focusing on features that directly impact satisfaction, businesses can improve customer experiences.
  • Provides a structured approach to prioritize features based on their impact on customer emotions.
  • Helps allocate resources to the most impactful features, ensuring efficient use of time and effort.


  • Requires significant time investment to gather and analyze customer feedback accurately.
  • Misinterpreting customer feedback can lead to incorrect categorization and suboptimal prioritization.
  • Customer preferences can change over time, requiring regular updates to the feature categorization.

9. Weighted scoring model

The Weighted Scoring Model is an agile prioritization method that assigns numerical scores to tasks, allowing for objective decision-making by comparing effort versus value.

How it works

  1. Compile a list of all tasks or features that need evaluation.
  2. Determine the criteria for scoring, such as value, effort, cost, and strategic alignment.
  3. Assign a weight to each criterion based on its importance to the project or business goals.
  4. Rate each task or feature against each criterion, typically on a scale of 1 to 10.
  5. Multiply the scores by their respective weights and sum them to get a total score for each initiative.
  6. Rank the initiatives by their total weighted scores, with higher scores indicating higher priority.


  • Allows for an unbiased ranking of tasks by using numerical scores.
  • Can be applied to compare different types of projects and initiatives.
  • Provides a clear, at-a-glance comparison of initiatives.


  • Assigning numerical values to abstract elements can be difficult and subjective.
  • The model can be inflexible, sometimes not reflecting the true impact on the business.
  • Weighing different criteria against each other can be challenging and may lead to inaccuracies.

10. The Walking Skeleton

The Walking Skeleton method focuses on delivering the essential features needed for a product to function, emphasizing important features first to ensure a working system that demonstrates business value.

How it works

  1. Determine the core features that are absolutely necessary for the product to function.
  2. Build a basic, but fully functional version of the product that includes these essential features.
  3. Ensure the initial version of the product clearly shows its value to the business and stakeholders.
  4. Include testing as part of the process to validate that the essential features work correctly and meet business requirements.


  • Quickly identifies and focuses on the most critical features.
  • Allows for early testing and feedback from the market to validate the product’s value.


  • Initial versions may miss important features that users expect.
  • The first release might be late as the focus is on ensuring the core system is functional and valuable.

Benefits of the prioritization techniques 

  • No need for endless reworkThese prioritization methods will empower you to regain control over your workload and gain a clearer perspective on prioritizing urgent tasks and important tasks within any given project.
  • Elevated product/service quality By implementing these prioritization methods, you’ll ensure higher-quality outcomes with meticulous attention to detail, exceeding expectations along the way.
  • Streamlined requirementsThese prioritization techniques enable you to efficiently identify and eliminate unnecessary functions, establishing a focused list of basic features to meet market trends.
  • Accelerated developmentFollowing the structured steps outlined in these prioritization methods allows you to concentrate solely on project development, speeding up the process.
  • Enhanced customer satisfactionAdopting a new mindset with these prioritization models enables you to achieve your goal of overall customer satisfaction.
  • Closing the expectation gapInvolving customers in the project prioritization process minimizes their expectations, reducing the gap between expectations and reality.

Read also:

[Checklist]: Top mistakes to avoid with prioritization techniques

  1. Be flexible: Stay open to adjusting priorities as new information or quick wins emerge.
  2. Keep it simple: Avoid over-complicating the process by keeping the method straightforward and leaving room for error and iteration.
  3. Prioritize importance: Avoid prioritizing easy tasks over important ones for convenience’s’s sake.
  4. Delegate tasks: Don’t underestimate the power of delegating tasks to others to free up time for more critical matters.
  5. Avoid overusing “Must-have”: Refrain from placing every task in the “Must-have” category.
  6. Stay objective: Avoid getting too personal while assigning tasks to categories.
  7. Involve key experts: Ensure key experts from the team are included in the process of prioritizing tasks and product features.
  8. Consider long-term impact: Don’t solely focus on immediate ease and confidence; consider long-term strategic impact.
  9. Update scores regularly: Keep scores updated as projects evolve to prevent outdated prioritization.
  10. Apply consistent criteria: Use consistent criteria when assessing value and complexity to avoid inaccuracies.

Time tracking helps prioritization in Agile teams

According to the Atlassian community,

Time-tracking in the Agile framework is a highly debated topic, especially with developers in Scrum Teams stating that it goes against Scrum Principles.

Atlassian community

As the adage recites, A Tool in the Hands of a Fool is just a Tool. Tracking time can harm a Scrum team when it’s used for micromanagement and when the team is slowed down by cumbersome time-tracking activities like manually filling timesheets.

The Scrum methodology can benefit from the correct use of time tracking. Team time entries reveal bottlenecks and bring mathematical evidence of why specific deadlines weren’t met. Also, the proof of time-tracking enriches story refinement and planning.

The more details are known about the task, the less uncertainty there is in the estimation. But sometimes uncertainty can only be eliminated by actually starting work on the issue.

Kacper Szewczyk, Frontend Developer


What is Agile?

Agile methodologies offer a flexible and iterative approach to project management that can help businesses achieve their goals while responding to changing circumstances. At its core, agile is a mindset that values collaboration, customer feedback, and continuous improvement.

By breaking down complex projects into smaller, more manageable chunks, agile teams can deliver value faster, reduce risk, and increase customer satisfaction.

Is prioritization a skill?

Yes, it’s a soft skill. Prioritization enters the top tier of the soft skill category. You must prioritize your tasks and actions, especially while leading a team or a project.

Important for the accuracy of time management, this decision-making aspect defines the who, the when, the where, and the how.