Why should you strive for moving Features to done?

If Sprints are not execution unit, what is the rush of moving Features to done as soon as possible during a sprint? Why should you care about it if you’re not limited by end of sprint deadline?

Other than the fact that done is fun ™ (obvious sense of accomplishment), striving for done features will push the entire team to excel. I’ll try to cover it from two angles, manager and developer.

Nothing new, you commit to version instead of Sprint

The only difference of introducing versions to decouple execution from sprints, is that you commit to version rather than sprint. So far, no big change, you need to release on time to allow fast feedback by your customers. It’s the same “Agile attitude”, the same fuzzy feeling in your tummy.

From Developer’s point of view

1. Prefer small amount of WIP (Work In Progress) – we are poor with multi-tasking and we hate to get back to things we thought we already finished. If you aim to move Features to done, you can be more confident moving forward without leaving some concerns behind you.

2. Practice Growth – the more features you’re estimating, breaking (into tasks) and leading, the more you’ll improve your communication and leadership skills. Because all of the above is so hard to get right, you need to practice as much as you can to feel comfortable leading bigger features over time and later on, if desired, leading your own team. Great leaders not only know how to push features but they also can explain to others how to get better at it, to share feedback. For that, you’ll need to practice enough, to reflect enough, until you really grasp the complexity behind it.

From Team Leader’s point of view

1. Prefer small amount of WIP – you should prefer 7 features done from 9 planned rather than 15 features in progress from 20 planned. You cannot deploy half-baked features thus 15 features in progress means zero value to your customers.

2. Create predictability by making Velocity graph stable – If you want to plan your sprint faster and with more confidence, you’ll need to understand how many Story Points / Ideal Days you’re able to do each sprint. For that, you’ll want your Velocity graph to avoid spikes every sprint (example: 30 SP, 2 SP, 87 SP, 40 SP) but rather have a “stable” Velocity graph (example: 30 SP, 27 SP, 34SP, 29SP). Constant spikes mean that you won’t be able to say how many Features (by Story Points) you’re able to perform. Less confidence => more time spent on planning.

3. Create predictability by making Features Size Completion stable – again, if you want to plan your sprint faster, you’ll need to know how many big / medium / small features you’re able to pull off every sprint or every version. Try to strive for known throughput per feature size to increase confidence.

Planning Sprint, just like estimating features, might be very expensive and hard to nail down. The trick is to create solid picture that strengthen your gut feeling about what you can actually do. With this in hands, you’ll spend less time breaking everything to little pieces or worry about the quality of your plan; instead, you’ll have solid empirical history behind you to back you up. More time for you to get some tan!

 

Oren Ellenbogen