Weighted Shorted Job First

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Weighted Shorted Job First (WSJF) is a method of prioritizing work or projects. It is essentially a calculation method for pursuing low-hanging fruit better than projects with higher value but higher completion costs. The idea is that higher-value projects with shorter delivery times should take precedence over longer-time projects with lower delivery values. It first assigns a value to a specific project and assesses changes in that value when the project is deferred. It is a tool used in the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to help teams prioritize programs.

When SAFe (short for Scaled Agile Framework) was first introduced to assist big organizations in implementing Agile and quickly adapting to changes, it naturally had its way of prioritizing. The Weighted Shortest Work First (WSJF) priority model helps calculate and understand the financial impact of not completing tasks or not implementing a solution sooner. It is what is known as the delay cost. This technology is designed to accelerate the delivery of value, especially in large projects, where the problem is more and more large queues and waiting times.

How To Calculate the Cost of Delay?

The WSJF has a delay cost. Delay cost (CoD) is composed of three parts. To estimate CoD, a company should use its set scale to score the following criteria for a particular item.

User/business value: Suppose the relative worth of each job to their customer or business. For example, the project or function that the customer most often requires scores higher than the project or function that generates the most revenue.

Time is critical: Has user/business value declined dramatically over time? If a company knows that a competitor is developing something like this, its project has a high time-critical score because they want to be the first to list its new product or feature.

Risk reduction/opportunity leads to value: What is the future impact of each job? Does a job reduce future risks and open up other business opportunities? Once all the available items are scored using the above criteria, they add a relative CoD score.

How To Measure Job Duration?

While it sounds straightforward, the calculation of work duration can be tricky. However, it is essential to weigh the shortest job priority. Using worker hours yields such large values that WSJF values become meaningless. It is, therefore, more effective to assign value based on that relative estimate of the number of workers per month. If the company is unsure how long the project will take, the scale of work can be used to calculate the WSJF value instead of the hours worked. They can use the amount of code they need for technology development projects. Remember that these values are estimates and should be relative to other items under consideration.

What Is Meant By the WSJF Ratio?

The Weighted Shorted Job First ratio is determined by dividing the delay cost of an item by its duration, and a more prominent number means a greater priority. However, the product professionals responsible for sequencing the backlog still make the final decision. Factors such as regulatory deadlines, the vulnerability of legacy systems, or the establishment of a basis for future functionality may be difficult to represent in financial terms but need to be considered.


Although WSJF is only meaningful, it is hard for companies to overlook the generally used first job in the line gets complete the first approach. The value of the distribution (which we use to calculate the cost of delay) will vary from organization to organization, but it is worth trying to answer the question, what value means to your company, and then trying to calculate which work should be given priority.

Weighted Shorted Job First
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