Divide the Dollar

Divide the Dollar (known in other forms as The $100 Test or the Monetary Method) is a game wherein stakeholders must prioritize their product requirements. When scope creep is a threat, this method can prevent unnecessary emails and time-wasting meetings by helping stakeholders better understand the design team’s capabilities and the design team better understand the stakeholders’ needs.

Description

Schedule Time & Gather Materials

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Schedule Time:

  • 1 hour
Gather Materials

Gather Materials:

Required

  • Play money
  • List of features (see details below)
  • Lined paper & Calculator (or Spreadsheet Software)

Carry Out This Method

  1. Randomly list the product features that stakeholders have requested.
  2. Give each feature a fictional price point based on the difficulty of each feature to implement.
    1. For example, the inclusion of an FAQ may be worth $1, adding filters may be worth $3, and adding original video content may be worth $7.
    2. Pricing will vary based on the platform being used, the skills of your team, and difficulties faced.
  3. Decide how much play money stakeholders will be able to start with based on your budget.
    1. To do this, brainstorm several plausible release scenarios involving the features as you’ve priced them. Total the features’ prices for each possible release, then average those totals. For example, if you create three scenarios – one that adds up to $55, one that adds up to $60, and one that adds up to $65, you can safely allot $60 of play money to your group of stakeholders.
  4. Invite stakeholders to an hour-long meeting to play the game.
  5. When stakeholders arrive, explain the basic rules of the game:
    1. Each feature is listed here with a price in play money.
    2. The group has a total of $60 to spend on features.
    3. You have the length of this meeting to determine what features you want to spend your play money on.
    4. Whatever you decide, that is what our team will prioritize.
  6. Give your stakeholders their play money and allow them to discuss and purchase features.
    1. Listen to the stakeholders as they discuss their reasons for buying a feature. This will help you determine why a feature is important to them, and can help with later discussions in the event a chosen feature isn’t practical to implement.
  7. As stakeholders add and remove features, keep a tally of the features purchased and the play money spent in a spreadsheet or on paper.
  8. At the end of the game, list the features to be included to be sure you understand the requirements. However, make it clear that these features will only have design priority, not necessarily guaranteed inclusion on release.

Try These Tips

  • If you are unable to give each item a set price, try a variation in which each stakeholder gets their own play money and bids on features they think should be included.
  • You can use sticky notes and markers to create play money, print play money, or use money from a board game. Dollar stores often have play money for sale as well.
  • A version of this game can be played with users to determine the needs of particular personas. Test users together in groups that would each represent a persona to get a better idea of what features they value most. This would require multiple meetings and take longer, but your results would be more valuable.
  • You can adjust the length of your game session based on factors like stakeholder availability and the number of features that need to be prioritized.
  • If a HIPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) is dominating the meeting, pause to restate the value for a diversity of views to be considered.

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