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#4 of 100 Agile Transition Guide Delights

A manager responsible for the delivery of Project X asks the team that will do the work to estimate a first release date.  That is defined as the next sprint goal.  The team plans to meet in the large conference room to estimate the backlog and create the first iteration of a release plan.

Within the first interaction with a client, the manager tells me she would be happy if we could just get the team to deliver upon the milestones and release dates.  After inquiring as to who sets those milestones she stated that some times the company imposed dates, but that usually the team was asked to estimate when the project would be complete.  That it was only after missing several deadlines that the company executives would start imposing drop-dead dates.  This sounds like a client I can delight.

1st Objective: Predictable Team

After training and workshops to teach a team many managers have goals or key performance metrics they wish to achieve.  I rather don't care much about their stated goals.  I know that predictable teams are the key to achieving almost any of those KPI.  Therefore, a predictable team is my objective.

Many mid-level managers use to do the work they are now managing; and are guestimating based upon how they did it 20-years ago.  When the tech-stack is vastly different, these guestimates are not helpful.  Relying upon someone's memory of how easy it use to be is a good (negative) indicator.  What would you do with this information?

It is common for executives to underestimate the effort required to produce their visions of a product.  Most executives don't want the perfect answer with 80% confidence.  They wish to have a way to show progress toward the goal, and the ability to predict when various externalities will come into play with the over-arching program vision from the standpoint of the whole organization (sales, marketing, delivery, support, and accounting).  Many times the question is can I get the application this year, or will it have to be next year?  From there everything else is negotiable. Yet nothing an unpredictable development organization tells the executive is worth the money it cost to get to the milestone.  Many executives have been disappointed with the Next-Gen Product initiative.

I have a matra... if we can predict what we can accomplish in this sprint we can derive the answer to much larger work efforts.  The derivation is predicated upon predictability.  Many of the answers that executives wish to have are in fact a derivation of some sort.

See Also:

What is an Agile Transition Guide?