Scrum Practice II

Backlog should be sorted out and orgnaized after sprint planning. And the testers could start taking the tasks afterwards.

Stand-up meeting will be held daily to check the progress and obstacles. Still, if we don’t pay close attention, it will become a mere formality without any useful output. More dangerously, scrum master would assume it’s all under control by hosting such daily meeting. But actually it’s not.

We take the following actions to monitor the project more actively.

Milestone Setting

Though human beings are able to process multiple tasks simultaneously. We still don’t suggest to hold more than three tasks in hands at the same time. Therefore, all the tasks should be spanned reasonably along with the time.

What we have done is to set milestone for each task based on the estimated effort. Well you could call it other name, such as “deadline” which I dislike.

As I have presented in Scrum Practice I, there are several weekly targets in this sprint. So it’s quite easy to set milestone respectively.

We highlight the milestone days in a different colour in backlog which makes it colourful. Thus with a quick glance, you will find maybe too many tasks are gathered in one week which are obviously impossible to finish on time.

Since there are sorts of dependencies among all the tasks from time perspective. One task delay may cause the delay of all the subsequent tasks. Therefore, every time we meet postponement, besides current task, we should re-estimate the consequence and risks for all the following tasks. There are two options:

  1. Work overtime to catch up the schedule.
  2. Ask Product Owner’s approval for the delay of certain tasks.

We don’t need to wait till the end of sprint to find out, OMG, too many tasks haven’t been done yet. Instead, almost every change is under our control.

Actual Effort/Latest Estimation

In the official guide of Agile, it’s told to record the remaining effort in the backlog in stand-up meeting. But we found it was somehow useless to record only remaining effort since estimation was not accurate enough to indicate the progress.

Thus we record not only lastest estimation effort (RE), but also actual effort (AE) which has paid on this task, as the format of “AE/RE”. For example, today I have spent four hours on an item and I suppose two hours are still needed to completely finish it. Then I will write “4/2” in that field for the specific task on that day.

In that way, we are able to calculate the actual effort you have put on certain task in the sprint retrospective meeting. And use the historical data as reference to estimate effort for the next sprint during planning, which is much useful and reasonable.