How to deliver value to users 2x quicker — 10 ideas for quick improvements for your Scrum Team.
The article is a break-down of 10 quick improvements that every Team can easily start doing to improve their Time to Market. Depending on your current situation some of ideas could be more or less applicable, so don’t be afraid to experiment with them — if it works in your context it’s right.
Based on my experience with multiple teams, implementing some of below improvements may help significantly decrease Time to Market and help everyone in the team to focus on delivering more valuable Products.
1. Split the Sprint Backlog into 2 parts.
Split you Sprint Backlog into 2 parts / swim lanes:
- The Most Important: the section consists of the most important priorities / tickets in the Sprint.
- Everything Else: all other tickets that are not bringing as much value as items in the ‘The Most Important’ section.
Implement the rule that till all tickets are not done in ‘The Most Important’ section, Team should not pick-up any issue from the ‘Everything Else’ group.
Based on various experiments that I had chance to run, it seems like teams are closing items in the section “The Most Important.” almost twice quicker than in “Everything Else” section. Limiting work in progress and giving visibility of priority helps the team to be more focus on what’s really important and brings the most of value.
2. Add Production Deployment to your DoD.
- It’s not done till it’s shipped.
- If you cannot deliver early a potentially shippable Increment perhaps you cannot deal with the rest of Scrum — it should become the first impediment for you and the whole organisation to focus on resolving.
3. Add time indicators to your Sprint Board (when issues haven’t changed their status for a while i.e. 3 days).
- Focus on unblocking your system. Those blocked tickets are a waste, moving them across the board should always become Team’s number one priority.
- By visualising time spent on tickets and highlighting those that exceeded average / median you increase the transparency on what team should really focus on, so the flow of the system can be improved.
4. Define Sprint Goals that are clear, concise and give a good understanding what customer impact you want to achieve.
- Try to build your Sprint Goals around the Impact that you want to make with delivered functionality.
- The only way to measure the progress of your work is Delivered Value to the Customer — it should become the metric no 1 for all people involved in working on the Product (please forget about Story Points).
5. Add “Customer Feedback” column to your Sprint Board.
- Add column “Customer / PO Feedback” to engage PO, customers and have a regular interactions with them during your Sprint to get feedback on what you’re building.
- “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” — P. Drucker.
6. Organise Value Stream Mapping Exercise to understand how Products are being delivered in your organization.
- Value Stream is a series of steps towards delivering value to the end customer. Building a map of it will help your team to have better understanding of bigger picture and will give you the ability to start optimizing the software delivery process.
- Building similar understanding of how things are being delivered to end customers will help reduces silos in your organization and improve interactions between stakeholders and Scrum Team.
7. Start discussing items from right to left during your Daily Scrum.
- Organize your Daily Scrum as value driven sessions — focus first on items that are close to be done.
- Tomorrow the User Story, Task or Hypothesis might not be valid anymore and the whole effort of working on it would become the waste.
8. Automate one thing every Sprint.
- Have at least one task during each Sprint dedicated to automating something in your Scrum Team — it can be related to the Product itself or your process i.e. Jenkins Pipeline, GitHub, JIRA.
9. Measure a lot, but take your Team’s Context as the primary source for making any decisions.
- Know the difference between lagging and leading metrics.
- Metrics taken out of the context will do more harm than help.
- Remember about being effective in the first place, then consider to focus on the efficiency.
10. Treat Daily Scrum as the most important meeting during your day.
- Daily Scrum is a key session to inspect team’s plan for the Sprint and adjust it if needed.
- As a part of inspection process think about evaluating with the team: possible risks, value proposition of the Sprint Goal, knowledge level in the team and collaboration / motivation aspects of the squad.
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