In this final part, we identify four more problem areas and help you get your Agile Software development process back on track. If you missed the previous posts, here are the links: Improve you Agile Process - Part 1 and Improve you Agile Process - Part 2.
Avoid analysis paralysis
Over-analyzing and trying to define every Story in great detail is not productive and should be avoided. Only Analyze and document what you need to start moving forward. You don't need to analyze, estimate, and resolve every concern at the beginning (Sprints 1 and 2).
Avoid early overoptimism
Taking on too many Stories at the beginning (Sprints 1 and 2) typically results in Sprints that are not shippable - with too many incomplete Stories and features. So basically you didn't complete what you committed to (Sprint backlog), so you're starting with a failed Sprint. This will demoralize your team, and also your Sponsor who put trust in you and this new process. This is especially true for new teams with little experience planning and executing Sprints. Give your team at least two Sprints to adjust and become productive.
Allow time for refactoring
While most project plans allow time for defect resolution (bug fixing), they often fail to do so for refactoring. For example, you may plan a Sprint with assumptions such as - our typical project has 150 bugs, and we usually fix 4 bugs per person per day and considering our development team size we should be able to fix them all in a single Sprint. However, refactoring is very different to bug fixing. We have seen refactoring take 20 days on a project which only had 15 days for Quality Assurance. The nature of Agile software development is to move quickly, so refactoring is inevitable, and you need to plan for it.
Empower your team and avoid micromanagement
Asking your Project Manager or another senior manager on the team to assign tasks is not empowering. Every member of the team needs to take ownership of their tasks; they have to believe and commit to delivering their work. This is crucial, and the only way to accomplish this effectively is to involve them in all aspects of task planning - analysis, estimating, prototyping, etc. Everyone on the team needs to have the freedom to make decisions about their tasks, and also be allowed to make mistakes. Resist your urge to take back control every time your team makes a mistake; you can’t learn and improve without making mistakes.
In summary, for most software development teams, following Agile development principles will improve productivity and morale. However, as highlighted in this three-part series, if the process is implemented incorrectly or core principles are ignored it can have the opposite effect.
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