Magic Estimation to Prioritize via HCF


This is a magic estimation template that is used for prioritizing via HCF (Highest Counter-Value first). With few adaptions, it can be used for WSJF, too. It gives you the opportunity to estimate big amounts of topics (e.g. stories or epics) with a big group of people in a short amount of time. For that, it combines the well-known Magic Estimation method with a prioritization method I developed.

To learn more, here's the corresponding medium article.

When to use it?

Especially for established products, there's often a long backlog that you can't prioritize just by dragging the topics around. Often many stakeholders are involved. This is a pretty suitable situation to use this template. It also works better for less detailed topics on an epic or theme level. But of course, it can be used for stories as well.

The idea behind

The idea, like with WSJF, is to calculate a prioritization proposal based on the interdependence between the need for a topic and the expenses it triggers. For that the topic's Need is divided by the Expenses it causes. To determine those two factors, three variables have to be included for each of them.


  • Value

  • Time Criticality

  • Opportunity & Risk Reduction


  • Implementation Complexity

  • Risk Remediation

  • Financial Cost

How does it work?

  1. Via the first box, you collect the participants and the topics you want to prioritize.

  2. Via the second and third boxes you estimate the values for needs and expenses via magic estimation (see description in each box).

  3. You calculate the estimation values for HCF and arrange them in a simple matrix.

  4. Based on those values you can now define your backlog, e.g. in your task management tool.

Estimations are done via shirt sizes.

This method is approved. It served me well. And perhaps others can benefit from it!


Hans-Jörg Roser image
Hans-Jörg Roser
Product M. & Orgnizational Dev.@HF-Solutions
I am a Methodologist and Technology-Enthusiast. I love handling complex challenges in Product Management and Organizational Development

Related boards

Template cover of OKR Building
Template cover of Value Stream Mapping Workshop
Template cover of Product Metrics & Analytics