Double Your Team’s Velocity – Late Changes

What’s the cost of late decisions and changes to product requirements? Twice the effort for the same output. During a recent interview with an Engineering Manager (whom I consider one of the best I’ve worked with), the subject came up with late changes to their release plan.

His team, the Product Owner, Tech Lead would all agree on the plan for the next six sprints of their release plan. Inevitably, late changes and new requirements would come in. The time it took to get clarification and consensus about what in-plan requirements would now come out of the plan everyone had agreed upon added an additional 100% cost.

It’s the same as planning ahead a little to get free shipping by the date you needed it, rather than overnight express Saturday delivery. Same item arrives on your door, it’s just whether it’s cost, or cost plus.

These were changes from the business that overrode the Product Owner’s initial decisions for the release, and from what I understood, the primary cause was the business not giving time and access to the PO to create the best product backlog for the release plan.

late changes, double your teams velocity, student syndromeIn the simplest sense, it’s just the student syndrome. The business knows the release is three months away, so it doesn’t really do the hard work of thinking and deciding about what’s going in the release until the deadline is looming and feels close. Then the time pressure kicks into action.

We’ll cover other related content and what you can do to help this problem later. This interview is part of a research study of what makes people, teams and organizations successful in agile contexts.

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