Team Efficiency

Over the last couple of months I have been working with a new team. One of the things that we have tried to embrace as a team is constant experimentation. Not just talking about where we can improve, but coming up with short term experiments that we can implement to try and do something about it.

One such experiment was looking at the relationship between personal efficiency and team efficiency.

Having three team members working on three (or more) stories as we could zip between them personally and work on something that was the most efficient for us at the time.

The problem was that our board was not moving very quickly. We had tasks in progress for too long, meaning that our tester – who is, of course, in our team was struggling to do something for the team and then in one swoop got everything at once, big bang style.

I won’t speak for the team, but this was a cause of stress for me. Working really hard, but taking a long time to see something move to completion.

So, in our retro it was discussed and we decided that we were going to ensure that we worked together.

  • Step 1: In sprint planning we looked at how we could split the stories into tasks in a way they fostered collaboration. This included looking at how stories themselves were split, a process that is ongoing!
  • Step 2: At the point where we hit a choice between easy street and taking something totally separate or picking a task with close collaboration we made a deliberate effort to go for the latter. This is a hard to keep up!

When we tried this we found that we were stepping on each other’s toes too often, and so in subsequent discussions (why wait for the retro next week if you have pain today?) we refined our process a little to come up with ways to mitigate this

  • Keep you files small and functional.
  • Check in fast, and oftenAt least daily.
  • Spend the time in planning to ensure that you have a good split and that everyone has a good understanding of the tasks

After running this experiment for a couple of sprints we have found our collaboration has improved, we can pick things up from each other with more ease and we have less tasks being developed simultaneously. Getting it working has been hard, and we are still working on it but don’t get discouraged by the difficulty. If it was easy to start then we would all be doing this already! And the results have, for us, been worth the effort J

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