When Buckets Go Bad

I use the term Bucket Planning for Release Planning. The metaphor works because buckets overflow if overfilled. There are risks associated with Release buckets corresponding to Minimum Viable Products (MVP). A large MVP bucket has gone bad and a MVP Bucket that continues to grow is a Bucket gone really bad.
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Three Ways to Control Scope in an Agile Programme

I both embrace change and also fight like crazy to reduce scope creep. On my current programme I use three main techniques to control scope: Programme Vision, Release Goal, and Requirements Trade-off. In different ways all of these put the business in control of what is in/out of scope. But they all help me stay within budget and time constraints.
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Agile Requirements Snail: Feature to User Story to Scenario

The Iterative Incremental approach inherent in Agile applies to delivered functionality but also to the requirements elicitation part of the process.

I like to refine requirements over time. Start high level, just enough to remind us to have a conversation, then fill in the detail just as we need it. What starts as a simple name of an Epic Feature will turn into multiple User Stories each with several Scenarios. But you don’t need all of that at the start.

The iterative nature of requirements definition is suggestive of a spiral process – what my daughter would call a “snail”:

Agile Requirements Snail

Agile Requirements Snail

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Estimate To Inform Investment Decisions

Some people think estimating is “crystal ball gazing” (@agilemanager, 2 Nov 2012) leading to “bad decisions” (@WoodyZuill, 2 Dec 2012). I’m not one of them.

I don’t always estimate. Nor do I necessarily estimate everything. But I find estimating helpful when considering investment proposals. This is true whether picking the next user story or commissioning an entire project.

Admittedly estimating is not an exact science so I think George Dinwiddie (@gdinwiddie, 27 Feb 2013) summed it up nicely when he tweeted that “estimates turn the unknown into the unsure, based on someone else’s expertise”.

I believe that even estimates with caveats help the business make better investment decisions.
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When To Measure Lean-Agile Productivity, and When Not To

Lean-Agile offers two productivity measures: Velocity and Throughput. It is possible to improve both over time but there is little point in management demanding that a development team improve either because both metrics are very simple to fudge.

There is also little point in using either of these productivity measures in product development. The focus is discovery not churning stuff out.

Where a productivity measure is useful is in a project or programme. Where somebody is wanting to know when the team will be finished. Or, conversely, how much functionality will be delivered before the time and/or money has run out.

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