That’s my standard smartass answer any time I get a feature request for a project. The beauty of a prioritized backlog, is that you can always insert new features and you can get a clear answer to where it goes in the queue.

Business: “Can we add a button to export the data in a spreadsheet?”

Me: “You can do anything with computers.”

B: *eye roll* “Well it’s top priority for us.”

Me: “Here’s the next 10 stories in the backlog. Please tell me which ones you want to push back to work on the export.”

B: “Can’t you do them all at once?”

Me: “No. We can work on as many stories at once as we have developers.”

B: “Well, we need stories 1, 2, 3, 4 more urgently. So put this at 5 and move the other down.”

Me: “Great, done.”

It will take two weeks

Here’s a quick war story of a time when this went totally wrong for me.

Client came to us with a high priority request to make a substantial tweak to a product that we had already delivered months earlier. We had 3 devs working on 3 different things and 0 bandwidth. Account team wants to know how much time we need to do it and I told them it was about 2 weeks effort. What I meant was that we needed 80 dev hours, but what they heard was that it will be ready 14 days from today and, of course, that’s what they told the client. When I told them this would require us to pause one of the other 3 tracks, they freaked out because everything is top priority. My bad for not being clearer in my communication about the estimate, but I foolishly assumed they understood that we can’t do 4 things at once with 3 people. After some testy meetings, the way forward was to grab another dev for 2 weeks and ramp them up super quick. It got done barely on time at which point the client backed off on needing it.