The crippling cost of free

Business will see delivery team’s function to “deliver”, but all teams do many other functions – most of which fall outside normal controls. ¬†They aren’t products, projects, epics, stories – they’re ad hoc requests.

  • Requests for estimates/quotes
  • Requests for technical options/investigations
  • Recommendations
  • POCs
  • Re-prioritisations
  • Response to customer requests

The common link is that there is little or no visibility of cost to requester – all cost is borne by the delivery team and rarely tracked as “real work”. ¬†Friction can arise when it is not clear to the business the volume and content of work being executed outside of that which is monitored and reported on (e.g. in burndown charts, project plans, etc)

Spikes are somewhat analogous within agile methodologies, but often these requests are additional or external to the methodology.

Symptom is unhappy stakeholders – slow turn-around time for responses, key resources become unavailable or ineffective, unable to access technical skill sets they need to address customer (and potential customer) requests

Potential solutions

Try forming a group who has specifically allocated time for dealing with these items – they’re the interactive interface to the business, protecting the delivery team who are focused on delivering agreed work

May have different rhythm to delivery group – shorter turn-around, daily/bi-weekly/weekly as opposed to sprint cycle

Invite stakeholders and visualise workload – kanban/WIP management better than burndown/scrum, offload prioritisation onto stakeholders – you want to prioritise, what do we drop out?

Systematise common components – quotes, technical documentation for inclusion in customer responses, types of analysis/investigation (1, 3, 5 day spikes) with risk factors and criteria defined and understood