Project Management

Deliver More by Committing to Less

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.

The scrum process has an elegantly simple method of planning. Each iteration or sprint, the team calculates its velocity, factoring in the amount of work successfully completed in previous sprints, available personnel for the current one, and any obstacles or distractions that may exist in the time period of the sprint, such as a holiday or company meetings. Then, the team takes work from the backlog that sums up to the calculated velocity and adds that into the sprint backlog. Working with the product owner, the team then evaluates if the work chosen will meet the goal of the sprint. If all is well, the team then goes on to execute the plan. Once the sprint is over, the team performs the cycle again.

There is a challenge with this method of creating a plan, however. Since the team creates the sprint plan using all available capacity, it isn’t unusual for the team to fall short of delivering everything that they committed. Someone may get sick, or otherwise be unexpectedly unavailable. A bit of work may have been under-scoped or misunderstood, leading to items overrunning the time allotted. Or something may simply turn out to be harder than originally believed or require a skill the team doesn’t have. Rarely does the team deliver more than originally planned, and more often, the team misses on one or more committed stories. Sometimes, the items that were missed …

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