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How to Properly Measure and Use the Velocity?

Team’s Velocity is one the main metric used by Scrum Teams to plan their work and forecast potential future deliverables. Unfortunately, quite often the metric is being over-used and treated by stakeholders as the main method to manage business commitments and make long-term plans — such way of using Velocity is counter-productive, creates false assumption of control and support building working-environments focused more on output than on the outcome of work.

Don’t use Team’s Velocity:

  • To measure the effectiveness of the Scrum Team. The velocity is a metric focused on capturing the output of the work, Scrum Teams should be assessed based on the…

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Why IT project work plans fail and yet still we all continue to play the game that we cannot win.

Almost each IT Project looks the same, we first organize planning sessions, build Gantts Charts and Project Plans, create Risks Log, analyse requirements, provide estimations, add time buffers for unexpected events, communicate the timeline to the stakeholders and then… after few weeks everything is starting to fail. Team gets irritated when asked once again if it’s finished yet, PMs get angry at developers that they don’t deliver things on time, your boss and customers are frustrated that you’re breaking made promises and… destroy their other plans.

After few additional status meetings, re-estimations calls with the team and months of delay…

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Few tips for Product Managers, Scrum Masters and Managers when going through tough times.

Sometimes, things don’t go our way — product is getting bad reviews, our stakeholders are not satisfied with the financial results and people in the team are leaving. In this kind of moments, it’s may be worth to stop and go back to basics of product and team management.

Those generic truths could support us with getting through worse moments and help find ways to improve our current situation. When everything seems to be going wrong, remember that:

1. The only constant is a change.

  • Everything is temporary, that things wouldn’t be this bad forever.
  • Having stable teams doesn’t mean people in your squad will not change.

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How to write good User Stories and apply them in a proper way?

User Stories have become a standard way for software development teams to capture business requirements and build Product Backlogs. Unfortunately, quite often Product Managers treat User Stories as another way for storing already defined Business Specs, BRDs or requirements logs — such activities are counter-productive and don’t bring any real benefits from using User Stories.

User Stories were created to help Teams be more effective in delivering business value by building shared understanding between business and technical people, to quicker identify end-users and their problems and support building Products in an empirical way.

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Evidence Based Framework as a strategic tool for Product Lifecycle Management.

Software Products gives us the unique opportunity to see exactly how customers use our Product. By tracking thousands of metrics like Visits, Lead Time, Bounce Rate, Reading Time and other we’re able to gather almost a complete picture of the potential user of our system.

‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure’ — W. Edwards Deming

Unfortunately, quite often we’re getting lost in all of those data — the information overload is not helping us to focus on things that matter the most. …

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Take your Product Owner skills to the next level.

Sometime ago, I published the article ‘Top 13 Tips to Become a Great Product Owner’, and so far it was the most popular blog post on my Medium account — it got more than 20k visits. Today, (4 years older) I gathered the next set of advice for Product Owners who already had a chance to be in the role for a couple of years.

If you’re new to the role of Product Owner, I’d strongly recommend to first read the below blog post, as it focuses on the basics of Product Ownership.

Top 6 tips for experienced Product Owners

1. Your construction of the reality is subjective.

Your construction of the reality is subjective and prone to inaccurate judgment and illogical interpretations. The only way to limit the impact of it is to be aware of all cognitive biases (‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ is a great book to learn more about the topic) and make decisions based on data. Gather data for each of the new feature that your team is building. Get yourself immerse in already existing framework…

How to minimize the negative effects of Working in Scale.

Having more than 1 team working on the one product means that you’re already working in Multi-Team Environment. The most common challenges related to working in Scale are associated with Cross-Team Dependencies, Shared Ownership and Goals Alignment. Those problems are directly caused by the increase of possible interactions between people and therefore the complexity of the whole system.

Number of possible interactions based on number of people in a team / teams

To reduce (it cannot be removed completely) the negative impact of working in Scale on the productivity and still apply empirical approach to product development, additional effort from each team would be needed to:

  • Keep teams aligned between each other;
  • Enable self-organization…

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And it’s not Scrum.

Sorry, there is nothing like perfect framework for delivering software, the ways of working depends solely on your current context — type of product, people, technical and soft skills, organizational culture. Sometimes the best approach would be to apply Kanban for product development, the other team would find Lean Rules and eXtreme Programming as the best fit for them.

To bring the most of value to you current company learn about various ways of working, software development practices, the psychology of teamwork and get experience by working in different type of products — Backend Application, Enterprise Systems, End-customer facing apps…

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How to build a self-organized team without moving into anarchy and chaos?

Self-organization is one of the main concept of modern methods of managment, unfortunately it’s very often misued and abused by teams, who think they can make whatever they want and how they want if they’re so called ‘self-organized’.

Below you can find 5 practical tips that would help you to build a healthy organizational culture and have a effectively working self-organized teams that are focus on delivering business goals.

1. Make information transparent to everyone.

Enabling easy access to information would encourage your team-members to make decisions on their own, gives them the wider perspective and remove all excuses for not acting. …

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With greater power comes great responsibility.

Being a great Senior Developer is not only about having excellent technical skills. As you progress in your career, so called ‘soft-skills’ become more and more important. Having a wider perspective on created solutions, knowing what kind of business problems your product is trying to solve and putting more focus on helping your colleagues to improve their expertise would help your team become better.

The following 3 soft skills can help you distinguish great software engineer from a good one.

1. Solving Business Problems.

Humans are tool builders, and we build tools that can dramatically amplify our innate human abilities — Steve Jobs


Lukasz Krzyzek

Scrum Master | PSM III

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