Managing a project that is falling behind schedule can be challenging, but there are strategies you can employ to bring it back on track. In this blog post, we will explore two key levers you can use, along with several practical tips, to help you navigate the situation effectively. By focusing on scope and velocity adjustments, improving communication, and empowering your team, you can increase your chances of successfully meeting your release goals.
1. Adjust Scope:
One of the first areas to consider when a release is running late is the project scope. By analyzing your Product Backlog, you can identify lower priority items that could be shifted to a subsequent release. This simple adjustment can significantly reduce the remaining work within the release and help you meet your deadlines. Additionally, you can evaluate larger Product Backlog items and explore alternative ways to deliver their requirements. By seeking easier implementations, you can streamline development and gain valuable time.
2. Increase Velocity:
If adjusting scope alone is not sufficient, you may need to focus on increasing your team’s velocity. However, it’s crucial to approach this cautiously to avoid potential pitfalls. One common but risky option is to ask the team to work overtime. While it may provide short-term gains, prolonged overtime can lead to burnout, decreased productivity, and errors. Therefore, it should only be used as a last resort. Another tempting solution is to add more people to the team. However, the initial time investment required to onboard new members can actually slow down progress. Adding team members should be carefully evaluated, particularly in late stages of the project, to ensure it does not further delay the release.
Now that we’ve discussed the primary levers, let’s explore some practical tips to help you overcome the challenges of a late-running release (or if you prefer, watch our video on Tips For Releases Running Late)
6 Practical Tips to Increase Your Team’s Velocity and Get Back on Track
1. Make the Product Owner Accessible:
Co-locating the Product Owner with the team, if possible, can greatly enhance collaboration and efficiency. When the Product Owner is physically present, they can quickly address questions and engage in discussions, often even preempting potential queries. In remote setups, ensuring easy accessibility for the Product Owner through various communication channels can similarly increase their responsiveness and support the team’s progress.
2.Direct Requests to the Product Owner:
To minimize disruptions and maintain focus, it is essential to route requests and emergencies from stakeholders to the Product Owner. This allows the Product Owner to assess the urgency and impact on the release and make informed decisions. By centralizing the management of stakeholder requests, the team can stay focused on their priorities without unnecessary distractions.
3.Uplift Team Skills and Promote Cross-Skilling:
Investing in the professional growth of team members can have a direct positive impact on their performance. Encourage skill development and provide opportunities for cross-skilling within the team. When individuals understand and appreciate the work of their colleagues, they can collaborate more effectively, share responsibilities, and boost overall velocity.
4.Provide the Right Tools for the Job:
Equipping your team with suitable tools is crucial for efficient communication and productivity. Depending on your setup, tools like Jira, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams can facilitate effective remote collaboration. Additionally, ensuring the quality and reliability of equipment, such as microphones and webcams, contributes to smooth communication and minimizes technical obstacles.
5.Refine Your Product Backlog:
Consistently refining and detailing your Product Backlog is crucial to maintaining clarity and focus. This process involves bringing well-defined and appropriately sized backlog items into Sprint Planning meetings, which helps the team understand their tasks and dependencies, leading to smoother execution. By dedicating time to refine higher priority Product Backlog Items and ensuring they are sufficiently detailed and well-understood by the team, you can reduce uncertainty and enhance the likelihood of delivering on time.
6.Communicate and Report to Stakeholders:
Transparent communication with stakeholders is critical, especially when facing delays. Regularly update stakeholders on the progress, challenges, and any adjustments made to the release plan. While the ideal approach is to involve stakeholders in Sprint reviews, it is not always possible. In such cases, leveraging tools like the “Sprint Report for Stakeholders” Jira app can help you create detailed reports to keep stakeholders informed and engaged in the project’s progress.
When releases are running late, it’s important to address the situation promptly and employ appropriate strategies. By adjusting scope, increasing velocity cautiously, optimizing communication, empowering your team, and utilizing the right tools, you can navigate the challenges and work towards getting your project back on track. Remember, every project is unique, so adapt these tips to your specific circumstances to achieve the best possible outcomes.