Venkat is the Scrum Master of ScrumGods, a team which has consistently been praised by all as a very Agile team. They did all their ceremonies without fail and team members collaborate well and their artefacts are all highly visible and so on. After a few months, some of the team members were getting a bit bored about doing the same and approached Venkat and asked him what they can do to move to the next level of Agility. They desperately wanted to improve and move up the ladder and started bugging Venkat to find ways by which they can bring in some advanced practices. One of the areas was their Velocity which, though consistent, was not improving much. Venkat thought that could be an area where something needs to be done and started thinking about it. Can you help Venkat to identify some advanced practice which can improve their Velocity?
Velocity is used as a primary measure of progress in most teams and is a very important indicator. Improved velocity almost always indicates improved agility. Many aspects impact velocity – estimation accuracy, planning process, capacity planning, sharing work, identifying unplanned activities and so on. There is scope for improvement in all these areas through advanced practices.
One could be in the area of identifying unplanned activities. It is well known that unplanned activities are one of the major problems in teams. Most teams fail to deliver committed work due to unplanned activities consuming their time. If unplanned activities can be identified then the team can decide how to manage it. Some may be avoided and some may be planned. There will be several unplanned activities on any team that can be avoided. That would increase their productivity without spending extra time and thereby would help increase their velocity. How would they do it?
- Spend focused time in retrospectives for unplanned activities management. Or set up a separate meeting every sprint to discuss unplanned activities and find ways to manage them
- Classify unplanned activities into more categories – say sick leave, org work, team consultations, mentoring juniors, consulting with other teams, idle time, working on other versions of the product, support work, new stories/tasks added, estimation changes and so on. This would help the team to identify the major time consumers and plan to handle them
- Make unplanned activities visible (say on JIRA kind of tool) every time it happens so that team can capture all unplanned activities in a sprint
- Scrum Master can guide the team in managing unplanned activities and also approach management for any support. Over a period of time, the focus on such an activity would itself help the team to understand various unplanned activities impacting the team and avoid some of them as and when they occur.