Optimize future plans

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  1. Plan for the team
  2. Customize the team board
  3. Estimate in story points
  4. Analyze team reports
  5. Optimize future plans

When things are running well, velocity is stable, the team is feeling challenged and even the product manager is happy, it is not time to stop planning.

Plan ahead

Everything learned from burndowns, reports, story estimation, sprints and standups is ready and waiting to help make planning better for future sprints and issues. Even if the team changes, the budget is cut, or the company you work for insists on a whole new focus, the data collected is still really valuable.

Here's the top things you might change next time, based on what you learn this time:

Add more story points for high performing teams

A high performing team that always completes a sprint with no work to spare may need to be challenged with more points in the next sprint. But be careful of tipping the scale too far in the other direction. Teams that rarely complete a sprint without leftover points may feel like they are underperforming, even if they aren't.

Change things up to get different results

When things are going well, you don't want to mess with the formula. But when things aren't going as well, it can help to change things around a bit (if you have the luxury to do so). This could take the form of swapping responsibilities for a sprint, or introducing a different kind of sprint, such as an innovation sprint or bugfix only sprint. Change can be re-invigorating, and it can still contain work!

If overcommitment persists, please see your PM

Failure to meet committed story points can be disappointing for a team, especially if they don't know why. Check in with the PM or person who reported the issue to clarify details during estimation, and raise concerns during retros. If estimates are way off due to lack of basic information, for example, this needs to be addressed.

"One of the best things about estimating as a team is that it sparks some really important discussions about how we build our product and how we can get better at what we do."

~ Atlassian Product Manager

Don't forget the invisible things 

Scrum is all about team and a lot of things happen during sprints that need to be captured and fed into future plans. Here's a few things that new starters should know and experienced operators sometimes forget.

  • Always hold a retro. Always.
    Retrospectives can give you insights that reports can't. Make sure you discuss any issues that come up, which might result in adjustments to planning. Record insights (preferably in Confluence) and brag loudly about the good stuff.
  • Never assume the team knows how they are performing
    Just because velocity reports are available and are viewed in monthly team meetings, doesn't mean the team knows how they are going. Scrum leads and team leads need to use words too. Who doesn't like being told in person they are going well. 
  • Say it with meaning even if you've said it before
    Standups and planning can become a bit routine over time, especially with experienced teams who have worked together for ages. Try not to let the rituals become lip service, make sure people are saying meaningful things and are listening to each other actively.
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FURTHER LEARNING

If you want to learn more about estimating and planning, check out some of these options:

 

Last modified on Sep 4, 2017

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