Many projects face the challenge of operating in an environment that does not have all the ingredients for Agile success. Perhaps your team works in a highly regulated environment or with a customer who is transitioning to Agile principles. How can you help your team be successful and work with Agility when faced with these challenges? This presentation addresses two challenges I've encountered and shares solutions that worked for our teams. Maybe they'll work for you!

  • Managing capacity with the unpredictable nature of user support and maintenance tasks
  • Adapting Sprint planning to "gates" in the development process to maximize flexibility while maintaining velocity
 
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Outline/Structure of the Experience Report

  1. Capacity Challenge

In this example, I share an experience of working with a smaller team to support a contract that included development and operations & maintenance (O&M) for the system. Periods of high user support tickets or Production issues created difficulties for the team. The team did not have the luxury of dedicating someone to support, and tickets often were completed at the expense of committed backlog items or with lots of overtime.

  • The Solution
    1. Work with Product Owner to understand the issue and its impact on productivity
    2. Include one story/task each sprint for O&M and agree to capacity up front
    3. Agree to stretch stories from the backlog in case team doesn’t use all O&M capacity
    4. Use your tracking solution to report on plan vs actual each Sprint
  • Find Your Solution
    1. Consider a method that works for your team and customer
    2. Explain the upside for the customer and get their buy-in
    3. Try out your solution
    4. Iterate and improve to find what works for your team

  1. Using Agile to Manage Non-Agile Tasks

In many environments, there are still “gates” projects must successfully pass. Examples include security approvals, Section 508 testing, and other hurdles before Production release. While we may schedule these on the calendar and plan them for Sprints, the team can't control of the timing or the impacts of these gates. How can teams manage this uncertainty in their Agile development approach?

  • The Solution
    1. Work with Product Owner and the team to understand how these gates impact the flow of work and delivery of value
    2. Determine when the gates are most likely to require the team’s effort and include a sized story/task to account for it
    3. Agree to stretch stories from the backlog in case gates do not affect the Sprint as planned
    4. Use your tracking solution to report on plan vs actual each Sprint
  • Find Your Solution
    1. Consider a method that works for your team and customer
    2. Explain the upside for the customer and get their buy-in
    3. Try out your solution
    4. Iterate and improve to find what works for your team – Leverage the retrospective to understand if the planning predicted adequately

Learning Outcome

Provide options for adapting Sprint planning and tracking tools to solve common issues when working in with development hurdles that can trip hinder teams from maintaining their velocity

Target Audience

Beginning and Intermediate Agile Practitioners

Prerequisites for Attendees

None

schedule Submitted 1 month ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • George Dinwiddie
    By George Dinwiddie  ~  1 month ago
    reply Reply

    I like these aspects of the submission, and they should be retained:

    • ...

    I think the submission could be improved by:

    • Use the Abstract to attract the attendees you want. Describe the problem they see, and offer them some help with your session.
    • Limiting work to capacity in the face of unplanned work, whether operations work or rework from not passing an external gate is not a novel problem (and not connected to "waterfall"). It seems that the meat of this is how you handle it in your tracking tool. What am I missing?
    • Joyce Carr Schwab
      By Joyce Carr Schwab  ~  3 weeks ago
      reply Reply

      Thanks, George. I'm working to incorporate your thoughts a bit better. This is the less mature proposal I have. 

      In the first example, we were worried about accounting for unplanned tasks in our tool and in our planning. We also had a contractual obligation to maintain a specific velocity and to complete a specific number of points by end of contract. So  completion of committed items was very important, without derailment due to equally important major user support or maintenance issues.

      In the second example, I believe I'm getting at a planning issue. While you may hope/plan for the results of a gate or external review to come during a specific sprint, it doesn't always work out that way. And in some environments, such as government, the product cannot move forward without clearing necessary hurdles. Allowing for the unpredictability required to address findings and feedback can pose a challenge if the team doesn't build in some flexibility ahead of time. 


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    Joyce Carr Schwab - Sizing Matters

    45 Mins
    Experience Report
    Beginner

    Many Agile teams get some fantastic training and then go off to work wonders with their new knowledge. But all too often, the results can be like a crash diet. The team forgets the new information and reverts to old habits or falls into new bad habits.

    This talk will help teams to think hard about the process of sizing: what makes it work well and how to fix it when it goes wrong.