Since we work with many different companies in various industries and geographical locations, we see many different flavors of Agile. Often when we start out working with a client, we adhere to their existing process and slowly try to improve it as the relationship develops. One of our teams who has been working on various projects with a particular client for about a year was in a spiraling cycle of hectic releases. They would start the sprint with everything going well and then at the end of the sprint, they would frantically be reacting to changing or misunderstood requirements and overdue tasks creating a very stressful environment for everyone involved. Recently, the team had the opportunity to try out some improvements to their sprint cycle, which resulted in a smoother process. Here are top three changes they made.
- Perform a Requirements Gap Analysis
Before the sprint officially began, the team reviewed the requirements and identified the requirements that required clarification. Doing this as a group instead of piece by piece allowed the team to focus and stay on development tasks, maximizing business resources at the beginning when they were available, instead of in a panic when something was ready to be worked on that was an unknown.
- Estimate each Task
In addition to the requirements analysis, we had our development team identify and estimate all of the tasks/backlog items they would be responsible for during the sprint. This allows the team to identify early in the sprint if they will be able to complete all of the tasks on time. If the team determines that they cannot complete all of the tasks in the current sprint, the team can let the users know at the forefront of the sprint and not bad news at the end.
- Utilize a Tool for Team Management
Utilizing a task-tracking tool allowed the team members as well as management to see progress and understand if the team was on track or falling behind. If the team is falling behind, a tool makes it easy to see which tasks the team needs to address to get back on schedule. In addition, using an online tool allows team members to access it remotely if needed.
Implementing these changes had a huge impact on team morale since the sprint was much less stressful than previous sprints. If you are skipping any of the activities, why not test drive it for a sprint and see what type of impact it has on your process and your team?