Thursday, July 21, 2011

We can't finish our stories! Help

You have a great team, that works hard and uses the best IDE of the market and the chaps do talk to each other; and still you they can not manage to finish the stories they have in the sprint backlog.

Seems to be a well known problem? If so, just try to answer the following questions:

- Do you have a detailed sprint planning?
You should have! And for a 4 week sprint, it should be at least 4 hours. Just an hour is not enough for that.

- Does your product owner prepares user stories for the team, with some estimation beforehand?
If she does, please take care that the team not sees the estimations of the PO. They would just influence the own estimation and might lead to untruthful commitments.

- Is the product owner really available for the team, through the whole sprint?
Take care about it. The team might have questions during the development. If they need to interrupt frequently while the product owner is not available, the story will possibly fail the sprint. Or even worth, if they develop something that is not accepted by the product owner (afterwards notabene).

- What is the average size of the user stories that are selected for the sprint?
If you feel that stories are two expansive, than consider splitting them. There are some good techniques that might help you. By splitting of stories, consider fulfilling the INVEST criterions. Another good article on this topic can be found here.

- Do you have an exhaustive DoD for your stories?
If the answer is no, than you have an insufficient sprint planning! It is of immense importance to have a well defined exhaustive DoD for each story. It helps to negotiate it with the PO. Even more important is the discussion about the DoD. Many questions and potential problems can be covered up by discussing the list.

- Is your team really committed? What is the commitment of the sprint?
It is helpful to have an overall goal for each sprint. A commitment such as: "We are going to finish all the stories selected for the sprint" is pretty much senseless. You should have something like: "With this sprint the user should be able to create and manage his profile" or it can be some nonfunctional requirement that has some impact on the user experience: "With this sprint we are going to improve the responsiveness of the GUI application." Print it onto the Story board to keep it in mind all the way long. Time to time, it can be helpful to ask the team, how they feel about the commitment.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not convinced that extra detail helps in these situations, but having a more available customer and a theme for the sprint definitely do help.