5 signs you are wasting time

17 August 2018

There are some classic patterns in Agile software development that are also great indicators of whether you’re wasting time and money. Adrian Furby, GrowthOps Wrangler gives us the skinny.

You’re often distracted by people who produce lots of artefacts. These can include burn-down/burn-up charts, mood indicators, hi-res interface designs, timelines, and pipelines. None of these really help you produce outcomes. They might help some people believe that they’re in control of the delivery process. But every minute spent on a burn-up chart is a minute not spent talking to a customer, or delivering an outcome. For the most part an artefact is useless the moment it is created.

You aren’t regularly talking to the people using the software. The best kind of feedback comes from the people you are actually building for. You aren’t building it for a product manager, or a project committee, or even your peers. You are building it for very specific groups of people, and if you don’t talk to them how can you know what they need?

You’re part of a large team. Large teams (and by ‘large’ we mean anything more than 6 people) are a function of scope and timelines. “Oh no — we have 100 features to deliver and only 6 months to get them done! We need a bigger team! More developers! More testers! Another BA!” You shouldn’t need a bigger team — working in a short cycle and only delivering what is needed to meet the agreed outcome means there really is a natural limit to how many people you need. And small teams move so much faster.

You haven’t released anything at all, or you haven’t released anything for a while. Unless your code is deployed into production to be used by the people you are developing it for, you cannot achieve the outcomes you’ve committed to. Worse than that — you can’t get any feedback from them. How will you know quickly enough if you aren’t building the right thing?

You’re tracking the wrong measures. You report on things like “velocity”. Or “number of features delivered”. Or (God forbid) “$ per point”!!! There are really only two measures you should care about. How many people are using your software in production? And how many transactions are being made using that software? If no-one uses the software, then “$ per point” might as well be $1 million per point, because it’s just a total waste.

It takes courage to recognise these signs for what they are — waste. It takes even more courage to change them.

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