Working with Must-haves

For planning and prioritization it can prove beneficial to distinguish between Must-haves and non Must-haves. A Must-have is a story, which is required and therefore not something which can be regarded as optional in a prioritization. 

Must-haves vs Value

Stories can be marked as Must-haves if either Kano classification or Must-have classification is enabled in the circle configuration. The simpler Must-have classification only divides Must-haves into two categories (is it or is it not a Must-have), whereas Kano classification has more classification options for non Must-haves. Read more about Kano classification here.

Since a Must-have needs to be included no matter what, there is no real point in estimating its value. It cannot have a value in the sense of prioritization, because it is a requirement. Setting a story as a Must-have will therefore hide the value field.

However, an epic can be set as a Must-have, no matter if it accumulates value or not. It is therefore possible to have an epic, which is both set as a Must-have and has an accumulated value based on its children. This is for simplicity regarding inheriting Must-have status (read the section below) and to capture the real life situation, where an epic as a total is regarded as a Must-have – but when decomposed into smaller stories, some of them are identified as being not Must-haves. In this case, it is recommended (but optional) that once the epic is fully decomposed, it is no longer set as a Must-have.

Accumulated Must-haves

All epics (and releases, sprints and preplanned lists) will show if any of its children are Must-haves or not. This is to keep a quick overview of where the Must-haves are. If all or some children are Must-haves, the epic will be marked with a red or grey Must-have icon.

To give an overview of whether Must-haves are completed or not, accumulated Must-have markers are shown both for the non completed i.e Remaining and for Total. If Remaining is the statement “No children are must-haves” and Total the statement “Some children are must-haves” it means that all the Must-haves beneath this epic are completed.

Accumulated Must-have Effort

Since Must-haves are requirements without prioritizable value, the most interesting part of a Must-have is its effort estimate: how much work needs to be done to complete this Must-have?

Therefore, when accumulated effort is shown for epics, releases, sprints and preplanned lists, the estimated effort of the subset of children which are Must-haves is shown explicitly. E.g. if 2 out of 5 children are Must-haves, the accumulated effort and uncertainty of these 2 is shown in the overview. This is to draw special attention to Must-haves and whether they have been planned and completed – in an attempt to avoid the situation where Must-haves are down-prioritized. 

Inheriting Must-have status

When an epic is marked as a Must-have, all its children will automatically inherit this status and be regarded as Must-haves – unless they are explicitly classified as not Must-haves or given a value. This is to ensure, that even though all decomposed stories might not themselves be set as Must-haves, they will be regarded as such if their parent epic is a Must-have. However, it is always possible to override this inherited status.