07811 334806 ian@thecortroom.com

Points don’t win Prizes

I have had a love/hate relationship with Agile. For 15+ years the projects I worked on were typically delivered via Waterfall. The nature of them, the clients, the commercial agreements worked better that way. That didn’t mean the customer wasn’t kept up-to-date along the way and regular check-ins & updates took place.

I did a few Agile PM courses and read up on the associated material and I have to admit I was NOT a fan. The theory sounded ok on paper, but trying to transpose it into a real life situation with paying customers didn’t go down well.

I’ve spent the last 5 years working in companies where Agile ways of working, and primarily Scrum were actively used and at times dare I say – sweated to death. The time spent in the ceremonies and arguments over things being a 1 or 2 points consumed time and effort and I just felt that we became slaves to the process rather than the process helping to get things delivered.

One one occasion I heard a senior developer tell a graduate – “Your job is to deliver story points”. At that point I really did think I was living in some sort of Orwellian universe and my non conforming views towards Agile and Scrum would eventually seen me hauled off to some secret ceremony for torturing where I have to chant “Story points forever” repeatedly until l submitted to the Agile “Blob”.

The “admin” around tasks should be proportionate. I once wanted have a circle changed to a square – the effort 2SP (1/2 day). No. No. No. No!!!!! The change was small, but code reviews, dev tests, feature tests, QA, release testing saw a small change blown out of proportion. What happened? The circle stayed.

I have lost count of the time spent in meetings, debating and discussing things around the edges – which meant that getting the feature to the user took far longer than it needed to.

What really matters

  • Deliver value – User’s don’t care if it was 1, 3, 8 or 13 points. If process is delaying value being added…. change the process.
  • Deliver little and often. If a feature is ready – ship it. Branching and merging nightmares need to be addressed at the start to make sure things can be shipped and used ASAP to get feedback.

Your customers will not reward you for point delivery. But they will punish you if features take ages to be delivered.

I am open to have my mind changed on all these points!! Someone prove to me that it CAN work!