March 7th, 2014

Normalise Value Not Velocity

There has been a big discussion recently on the advocation within SAFe of story-point normalisation across development teams. For my part, my natural gag-reflex is somewhat tempered by the fact that I can see an innocent desire to see where to focus work and budget within a larger organisation. Regardless of whether normalising of story-point estimates across teams is good, bad, helpful or harmful, I think there is a much better factor to focus on normalising - and that is the definition of value.

I regularly teach Scrum to teams and organisations. Scrum is agnostic in how items are valued, it merely requires stack ranking of priorities so that the team know what they next highest priority item is for them to work on. I have found that product owners get a lot of value from relatively valuing their product backlog items - putting a currency value on them so that something with $1000 is worth twice as much to them, and their users, as something that is valued at $500. This isn't absolute dollars we are talking about here but relative dollars - or Geoff Dollars as I often call them. This has proven valuable in terms of identifying how much value each sprint is returning and helps the development teams know where the value is coming from. I even see a lot of proactive collaboration where development teams identify ways to maximise Geoff Dollars.

Another benefit of Geoff Dollars - or any relative valuing approach - is that, unless the Product Owner continually re-stocks their product backlog with high value items, the value delivered by later sprints will naturally decrease. It will therefore become very visible when we should consider stopping the project as the cost of each sprint will remain the same but the value delivered will be reducing.

This is a great way of focussing effort on the highest value-creating items within a project. But why stop there? If we, as an organisation can define a consistent method of valuation then we can work out which projects deserve our sponsoring. This, in my opinion, is less dysfunctional than normalising velocity across teams and actually encourages positive behaviours.

Tags:

Geoff Dollars / Normalisation / Product Owner / Safe / Standardisation / Story Points / Value / Velocity

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June 29th, 2011

The One Where The Release Plan Was Unacceptable

Overview Xander, the ScrumMaster for the Blockheads team, had just finished leading them through release planning of the highest priority section of Product Backlog for the OPAL project. The team was fairly new and had little concept of their velocity plus the project was fairly complex and, after 4 hours, the Blockheads came up with a plan of 6 sprints to complete this release. Heleena, Xander’s manager, who had been observing this new practice of agile planning pulled Xander to one side. “Six months? That’s ridiculous. We can’t afford to take six months to get this release out.” She said “Well we do have the option of deploying any time after sprint three so we could call this two releases really”... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master / ScrumMaster Stories

Tags:

Planning / Product Owner / Release Planning / Scrummaster / The One With

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November 30th, 2010

The One With Two Daily Scrums

Overview On my first day coaching a new team they invited me along to their Daily Scrum first thing in the morning. They had been using Scrum for a couple of months and had a great “Scrum room” with glass walls on all sides and a lovely view of the lake. On one wall they had their Sprint Backlog, on another they had the Sprint Burndown and on another they had the outcomes from the last retrospective. Everybody was there on time and even Annika, the Product Owner, was demonstrating her commitment to the team by being present. There were a few quick greetings before the team members stood in a circle and took turns to update their colleagues on their progress, confirming the view that the Sprint Burndown was indicating their good... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master / ScrumMaster Stories

Tags:

Burndown / Daily Scrum / Product Owner / Scrum / Scrummaster / The One With

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July 12th, 2010

The One Where The Product Backlog Was Too Big

Overview Andy, the ScrumMaster, was guiding the team through a session of planning poker to estimate the initial Product Backlog so the team could come up with a release plan for the new project. Murray, the Product Owner, had provided the team with the Product Backlog in time for the planning session although it did have to be rescheduled a couple of times as he couldn’t get hold of a couple of the account reps to get their requirements. The team had timeboxed three hours for the estimation but they had only really just scratched the surface of the Product Backlog and time was nearly up. A quick look at the spreadsheet showed they were probably only about 10% of the way through the product Backlog and that was quite depressing; it ... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master / ScrumMaster Stories

Tags:

Backlog / Product Owner / Requirements / The One With

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June 14th, 2010

The One Where The Product Owner Was Also The Designer

Overview Abdul, the lead developer was one of the co-founders of the company along with Pervez, the CEO and Suzanne, the head of sales. They had built a product from scratch to rival the biggest players in the industry and were getting to the point where they absolutely had to expand. So far they had got away with just Abdul and another developer building the product and due to the small nature of the team, when there was a trade off between user experience and functionality, the choice had always been to add functionality at the expense of user experience. Recently Pervez had appointed a Product Owner, Manish, to the team to focus the product from a user’s perspective as a clunky product just wouldn’t fly in the market. Unfort... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master / ScrumMaster Stories

Tags:

Design / Designer / Dual Role / Product Owner

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May 20th, 2010

Getting RE-TRAINED as a ScrumMaster

There are only three roles in Scrum. This is often the first thing that people have difficulty with. There is no project manager in Scrum, there is no distinction between different members of a development team – they are just called team members. The Product Owner is responsible for representing the needs of the stakeholders of the project to ensure that what gets delivered is valuable. She owns the budget for the project, determines the requirements and their importance and is judged on the return on investments (ROI) of the project. The development team are responsible for turning the Product Backlog into potentially deployable increments of product on a sprint by sprint basis. They are a self-organising, cross... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master

Tags:

Product Owner / Project Manager / Re-trained / Scrum / Scrummaster / The One With

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