Carryover Hangover

Bart has been in ecommerce for over 20 years, and can't imagine a better job to have. He is interested in all things agile, or anything new to learn.

A scrum team is intended to start a story and reach their definition of done, all within the same sprint. For teams that use relative short sprints, such as one or two weeks, this can be difficult to achieve. This reality makes it commonplace for a story to start in one sprint and then finish in the following one, without a lot of stress or panic. But this situation can put the team in a difficult position. Once a team accepts that it is okay for stories to routinely slip into the subsequent sprint, it is easier to overlook the difference between slipping by one sprint, two, five or ten. And that causes a major problem.

Having stories that were intended for a current sprint slip into a future sprint causes several challenges that need to be overcome. Some of the problems will, by their nature, weaken the value of trying to follow Agile as a methodology. Here are three obvious problems that carrying stories over from one sprint to the next brings about.

Delays value & feedback. One of the important features of Agile is the Do-Inspect-Adapt cycle. Another key feature is to provide value to the customer as quickly and as often as possible. By sliding stories from sprint to sprint, both of these benefits get delayed, perhaps to the point of no longer being beneficial to the team and product.

One of the things that Agile teams must admit to themselves as part of the …

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"Ambition is like a frog sitting on a Venus Flytrap. The flytrap can bite and bite, but it won't bother the frog because it only has little tiny plant teeth. But some other stuff could happen and it could be like ambition."

- Jack Handey

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