Friday, November 15, 2013

Eliminating Rework - Collaboration with the Product Owner

I was asked a question the other day: "Is feedback with the Product Owner (PO) ongoing throughout the Sprint or is feedback only gathered at the beginning and end of the Sprint?"  This is a great example of an instance in which we can start to get back into doing waterfall and start to fall out of some of the principles of Agile development.

In waterfall processes, the product team delivers the requirements document that the engineering team implements over the course of a few months.  Then, once the engineering team emerges with their work done and shows it to the product team for the first time, the product team is surprised and a LOT of rework (i.e., waste) takes place.  So, having the PO only talk with the engineering team at the beginning and end of the sprint is a microcosm of this problem that Agile processes seek to solve.

Some anti-patterns that I see on a regular basis with young Agile team is if you are hearing things said during the sprint such as, “But it wasn’t in the story/requirements!”  Or “Let’s make another story for our next sprint that is around the feedback the PO gave us.” Or “We’ll make a story for the next sprint that fixes that.”  What you are experiencing is a microcosm of waterfall and old habits, but more importantly, the potential for a lot of rework and waste. 

From the Agile Manifesto: “Business people and developers must work daily together throughout the project.”  Nearly all Agile processes whether it is XP, Scrum, DSDM, FDD, BDD – they all seek to get feedback as quickly as possible to eliminate the waste that occurs through rework.

But I want to take a step back for a second...

Does this really have anything to do with Agile or Waterfall?  Or does this have to do with common sense - or what is common sense now?  Even before Agile was coined, most organizations were moving into doing Iterative Waterfall because it has been proven time and again through other industries and processes, that waiting too long for feedback creates an enormous amount of rework which is a primary source of waste in a system.

This is an important point, because we so often get into 'religious' wars around our favorite process or flavor of process.  So, look for ways to reduce and/or eliminate rework regardless of what process you are in right now.

No comments:

Post a Comment