Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Long break - has it affected your sprints?

After the long break that we've all just enjoyed I'm reminded that I often get asked if teams should have a break between sprints to recover and prepare for the next sprint.  My answer is always the same.  One of the core principles of SCRUM is "sustainable development" and so no I don't think that there should be a break between sprints.

Breaks between sprints lead to a constant need to build momentum and that's just an ineffective way of operating.  The team velocity constantly keeps changing.  So the sprints should be run back to back and we need to make sure that the development effort is sustainable, workloads properly balanced and that SCRUM & innovative remains fun approach not a constant burden to carry.

Of course, a number of companies don't operate real SPRINTs at all.  They run small three/four week waterfall projects that deliver something at the end.  You know what I mean... One week for design, one week for development and one week for testing rather than integrated design, develop & test activities. 

The problems this causes is identical to their Waterfall big brother:
  • Testing being squeezed at the end of the cycle and either not completed properly or causing "delays"
  • Everyone rushing at the end to complete things that can't really be completed in the time available
  • Everyone working extra hours & weekends to deliver what they promised
  • Everyone getting increasingly stressed as the end of the SPRINT looms large.
Of course this isn't a problem if it's just a one-off at the end of a project - but if it's happening every three weeks then it's going to make development harder & harder to complete.

Add that to the "technical" debt that SCRUMs slowly develop over the first few sprints without automated testing or integrated development and you've a recipe for serious conflict!

So look honestly at your SCRUM process during your next retrospective.  Are you really running small waterfalls?  Is your team getting stressed?  Can your team get better at working together on parallel design, development & test?

I promise you it'll make everyone's life so much better and you'll deliver so much more.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good!

    Scrum Process