Agile Team Management Guides

By Technocrat Editor

In a team, a person who moves items in sprint backlog is someone from the dev team itself. It allows the team to take responsibility by themselves as they are a self organising team. If it is the scrum master or product owner, then the team does not have a chance to become a mature self organising team. The thumb rule to be followed is finish the sprint and then move the other items from the backlog into the sprint. Having a committed team is far more important than worrying about finishing the work. Conceptually those items that are not done – fully done – according to definition of done go back to product backlog and will be on top and can be taken in next sprint. However the product owner can decide not to do so. Also those items not done will not be showcased to the customer during sprint reviews.

If someone is not available, it is better not to move people around in a sprint team. However back up planning is always good for each individual resource. Things like access rights, individual egos are things to be dealt by scrum master as some of these are continuous impediments. To help a team grow to more maturity, a scrum master should not allow team members to be changed all the time. When it comes to time, it is ideal to keep the sprint planning to not more than 4 or 5 hours and reviews to upto 3 hours. The daily scrum meeting should however not take more than 15 mins. The secret to spend lesser time during planning meetings is to make refinement well during offline sessions. Similarly reviews can also be cut short with multiple offline reviews done for smaller items before the review starts.

One major thing to remember is that sprint should be not longer than one month. The more traditional way of doing things is to make a team lead to be the only one to know what is in future for sprints and also the scrum master to be more controlling. The idea is to make everyone mature knowledge workers working together. So in this context, culture plays a huge role in moulding people. When the results are very transparent, it makes the team to stop behaving like school children and adopt to agile methods faster. Changing structure is the start for changing a culture.

When it comes to sprint planning, we need to know the velocity of earlier sprints, it should be pretty much the same every sprint in order to succeed. However in reality it is not possible as some sprints are affected by external factors like holidays or some of the dev team going on leave etc. But it is upto the scrum master to know availability in order to plan things better and ensure velocity is maintained. The most important availability is the product owner even though he may not be technical, during sprint planning meetings as he is the key to breakdown backlog items into tasks so that then the team can structure their collaboration as a self organizing team and estimate times.

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