Peter did a quick calculation with the spreadsheet and said, "Eight million, eight hundred, and fifty thousand dollars."
"Does that mean that by making one tiny little change, like we've done here, the FBU project would, for ever and ever, be $8,850,000 better off?"
"You know what, Bob? I think it does."
"And even though it's not the real number, it is real money, isn't it?"
"Wow!" said Bob. "Would you like another beer?"
"I would," said Peter, "but let me get them."
While Peter was at the bar, Bob thought how amazing it was that he, a simple programmer who didn't know or care all that much about money, could figure out something so simple and yet so important. Bob wasn't the sort of man who would count his chickens before they hatched, but he allowed himself a tiny congratulatory smile. Numbers talked, and MegaCorp had good reason to listen.
When Peter returned, he put the two beers down on the table and said, "How do we figure out what goes into each mini-project?"
Bob asked Peter if he knew how to do a "quick sort," to which question Peter took mild offense, and told Peter that it would be far easier than doing a quick sort. They spent the next forty minutes, with help from one more beer each, sorting the spreadsheet.
They used a simple divide-and-conquer approach. They made a quick first pass through the spreadsheet, classifying each requirement and feature as either a high- or a low-priority feature. They then sorted the spreadsheet so that the high-priority features were at the top of the spreadsheet, and the lower-priority features were at the bottom.
On their second pass through the spreadsheet, they prioritized all of the high-priority features into "very high" and "high," and then, just for the fun of it, they reprioritized some of the "very highs" to "very, very highs." They decided to leave the low-priority features for another day. They weren't trying to get the list perfect, just convince themselves that the concept was sensible. FBU's product manager would need to go through this process and decide on the final prioritization.
Bob closed his laptop and put it in his bag. He asked Peter if he was still OK with the idea.
Peter said yes. "And you know what? I know we didn't sort the low-priority features, but there's little point. By the time we get to thinking about mini-project number three, we'll have had some great feedback from customers who've been using FBU 1.0 in real life. No doubt we'll replace some of the features in the spreadsheet with more useful features. That'll save our paying you guys a fortune for change requests too!"
Bob smiled. Another benefit! Not only had he figured out a simple way to rescue FBU and his job, but ... oh, drat. Bob gulped. He had figured out a way to eliminate one of KillerWattSoftware's major revenue sources. That wasn't going to go down too well back at the office.
He put on a brave face and said, "Yeah." They finished their drinks and went home.