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Backlog Blunders

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Talk given at the monthly Agile Cincy meeting 9/8/2016

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Backlog Blunders

  1. 1. ATLANTA | BOSTON | CHICAGO | CINCINNATI | DALLAS | NEW YORK | PHOENIX | WASHINGTON D.C. Avoiding Common Pitfalls to Unleash Your Agile Team’s Productivity Backlog Blunders 08 September 2016 Joe Combs
  2. 2. While agile projects are succeeding where waterfall projects fail, more than 50% of projects can still be classified as failing or challenged The Standish Group The Chaos Report - 2012 CHAOS Manifesto - 2013 2 A Challenging Environment
  3. 3. 3 Backlog Blunders
  4. 4. Features masquerading as stories Acceptance Criteria a tangled mess of untestable or conflicting statements How is the backlog stored? Are there dependencies between stories? Too much detail? Too little? Mockups help but think of other ways to capture the work 4 Format Matters
  5. 5. Priority: 1 Points: 5 Story #: 70 Purchase Items As a customer, I want to be able to see that the quantity of items in my shopping cart increases as I add an item, so that I know that I have successfully added an item to the shopping cart Acceptance Criteria The quantity of items in my cart should increase The amount in inventory should decrease Statement Words: <I> <want to> <so that> Drives testing & demos (PO acceptance) Format Matters5
  6. 6. Meet INVEST criteria: Independent – can be worked in any order Negotiable – focus on meeting requirements vs. design Valuable – worth something, clear enough to prioritize Estimable – clear enough to estimate level of effort (‘points’) Small – only a portion of sprint required to complete Testable – acceptance criteria clear 6 Format Matters
  7. 7. Everything can’t be High, MMF or whatever you call your top, must-have priority Where do you draw the release line? 7 Perplexing Priority
  8. 8. Estimates completed outside the team doing the work Estimates set artificially high because “we don’t know what we don’t know” 8 Estimate, Schmestimate
  9. 9. Lack of Done Criteria means you can’t know when to call a story done Done Criteria need to be defined and owned by the team 9 Done Criteria
  10. 10. What about Technical Debt? Defect mitigation? Estimates set artificially high because “we don’t know what we don’t know” 10 What’s Missing?
  11. 11. Meet DEEP criteria: Detailed appropriately – The higher it falls on the list, the fewer the unknowns Emergent – never complete or frozen Estimated – no question marks, certainty of the estimate rises as the detail level does Prioritized – the value of the item has been identified 11 What’s Missing?
  12. 12. Agile means just in time requirements, right? How engaged is your Product Owner? Priority never changes despite feedback and lessons learned Is it VISIBLE? Velocity? We don’t fuss over that. 12 Backlog Refining
  13. 13. This ceremony needs to find a place in your operating cadence 13 Backlog Refining 2 -4 weeks 24 hours Product Backlog of User Stories as prioritized by Product Owner Sprint Backlog Backlog tasks expanded by team Daily Scrum Meeting Source: Adapted from Agile Software Development with Scrum by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle. Demonstrable New Functionality
  14. 14. 14 Wrapping Up
  15. 15. Keep stories well formatted with clear, concise acceptance criteria Be honest with priority Ditto for estimates Clearly define done and ready but be careful with the latter INVEST the time to go DEEP with your backlog Refine regularly Deceptively simple – you just have to get intentional about it! 15 Backlog Done Right
  16. 16. LinkedIn - linkedin.com/in/jcombs Twitter - @jgcombs Blog – jgcombs.wordpress.com SlideShare - http://www.slideshare.net/JoeCombs1 Thank You!!
  17. 17. Joe Combs Backlog Blunders SEI Cincinnati LLC jcombs@sysev.com 17 513.459.1992

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