Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two Sprint Equations

What should be the order of items to do when installing a Sprint process from scratch? In the coaching days, we requested one to one ratio between the coaches and the rest of the developers plus a project manager, go all out for a couple of sprints, give everyone a chance to adjust to the process, before adjusting the process to the team.

For a single person, the strategy would have to be different. You would need to look at all the practices and make trade-offs with eyes on the big picture. The following two equations are what kept popping into my mind as I am installing the process to the two teams.

Value = Scope * (Feature Quality * Code Quality)

One comment to make here is that during the product development, these three factors are sometimes working against each other. A good business analyst or product manage is one that knows how and when to balance them. Only then, one with a strong personality can bring the best value to the product.

Scope is measurable, as the second section will show. Feature quality and code quality however are simply not something can be determined by objective measurement, not purely on it anyway. When pushed on something like a scope, the things that are not measurable get sacrificed, and everyone ends up paying for it sooner or later.

Scope = Velocity * Number of Sprints

Assuming that the quality of the product is controlled, the scope would be the next thing to look out for during a project. This is pretty easy to understand: the more the team can do without sacrificing the quality (both feature quality and code quality), the better.

Velocity is something that can only be affected by tuning the Sprint process of the team, but can never be demanded. What is left for this equation to work would be to adjust either the scope of the project, or the time of the project (number of sprints), and most of the time both. This is probably one of the commonly stated facts, at the same time it is probably also one of the most ignored fact.

Boosting velocity is the same as boosting productivity of the team, which is the job for the team lead. This is the purpose of a lot of XP practices: TDD, paired programming, co-location, shared ownership, continuous integration.
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