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A software development team in a mid-sized tech company was consistently failing to meet its sprint goals. Despite having talented developers and supportive management, the team was plagued by missed deadlines, incomplete tasks, and sub-optimal delivery.
The core issue identified was that the team was not meeting expectations.
Root Cause Analysis (RCA):
Upon closer investigation, the following issues were identified as primary reasons for the team’s underperformance:
- 1. Unclear and Incomplete Ticket Requirements: The tasks or user stories assigned to developers often lacked clarity, leading to confusion and misalignment.
- 2. Underestimated Tickets: Often, the time and resources allocated for tasks were grossly underestimated, leading to sprint spillovers.
- 3. Lack of Domain Knowledge: The team had insufficient knowledge about the specific domain, leading to delays and mistakes.
1. Ticket Grooming:
To address the issues of unclear requirements and task underestimation, it was decided to involve developers more actively in the ticket grooming process during sprint planning. This change offered several benefits:
- Clearer Understanding: When developers participated in the grooming process, they gained a better comprehension of the tasks, minimizing ambiguities.
- Accurate Estimates: With their technical input, developers could provide more precise time and resource estimates.
- Early Issue Spotting: Potential technical hiccups were identified early, ensuring timely solutions.
- Faster Decisions: With developers’ technical feedback, the team could make quicker decisions.
- Less Rework: Early clarity reduced the chances of revisiting and fixing mistakes at later stages.
- Efficient Sprint Start: The improved understanding ensured that the team hit the ground running at the start of each sprint.
2. Incorporating a Business Analyst:
To further enhance clarity in ticket requirements, a business analyst (BA) was introduced to the team. The BA brought several advantages:
- Requirements Clarification: BAs excel at obtaining, analyzing, and refining requirements. Their inclusion guaranteed that user stories were not only clear but also aligned with business objectives.
- User-Centric Focus: With a BA on board, the user or customer perspective was always at the forefront. This ensured that the team’s output was consistently aligned with user needs.
3. Experienced Team Lead:
Recognizing the importance of domain knowledge and experience, the company decided to onboard a tenured team lead. A seasoned team lead could:
- Quick Answers: Experienced team leads could swiftly address the concerns and questions of the development team, enhancing efficiency.
- Domain Expertise: Their domain knowledge reduced the learning curve for the entire team, ensuring smoother operations.
Post-implementation of these solutions, the team saw a significant uptick in performance. They started meeting, and in some sprints, even exceeding expectations. There was a noticeable reduction in ticket spillovers and rework, leading to more efficient sprints and happier stakeholders.
By recognizing and addressing the root causes of performance issues, teams can significantly improve their productivity. In this case, integrating developers into ticket grooming, introducing a business analyst, and leveraging the expertise of an experienced team lead proved to be game-changers.