Handling Interruptions in Scrum: 4 Options (Part 2)

Gene Gendel is Certified Scrum Coach (CSC), agile practice leader and transformation agent. His primary focus is helping organizations in adopting agile at large, improving organizational structure, culture, tools, techniques, processes, norms and behaviors. Gene works equally close with senior management at the enterprise level as well as individual teams, in single- and multi-team settings, while providing bi-directional support: top-down and bottom-up. His coaching style combines training, mentoring and leading by example.

There are four commonly known ways that teams use to handle production support, or other “interrupt” items. Frequently, these items are classified by “levels” of priority/criticality, with L1 being the lowest and L3 being the highest priority. As we continue from Part 1 of this two-part article, we look at the remaining two ways of interrupting Scrum sprints--and share what can be done about them.

3. Triage & Prioritize
This approach is most suitable when bugs/issues found in production are not extremely urgent. If findings are not life critical, they can be triaged by technologists (for size and complexity), prioritized by product owners and then be added to a backlog to be treated as all other PBIs (Product Backlog Items). This can be done during regular PBR (Product Backlog Review) sessions conducted by feature teams.

This approach is least disruptive to a team’s dynamics as it does not have any impact on a team’s velocity and cadence. A team does not have to dilute its focus and capacity that was allocated to sprint-based work by adding additional work mid-sprint.

This approach is frequently seen when a team is directly responsible for its production code (no L2 and L2 mid-layers). The product owner firmly controls communication with the business and is empowered to shield a team from undesirable interruptions and …

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