Four Things That Can Sabotage a Sprint

Success and failure are a part of any journey. For agile teams, continuous delivery is the expectation, and that may be a hard thing to achieve. As sprints go on and tasks pile up, we may deter from the path.

Whether your team is beginning their agile journey or are already agile pros, you are bound to encounter a failed sprint at some point.

When do you deem a sprint as failed? Why does a sprint fail? What are the possible reasons, and how can you learn from the mistakes to avoid them in the future? In my article published at TestRail blog – I examine four possible reasons for a failed sprint.

Read the complete article at https://blog.gurock.com/four-things-sabotage-sprint/

Bad Estimation

Estimates cannot be completely accurate every time. But when the agile team fails to see the correct depth or complexity of a task or a user story, the estimates may go haywire, leading to a big diversion from planned timelines within the sprint.

Incoherent Definition of Done

To ensure true completeness, we must list coherent and agreed-upon definitions of done for each type of task we undertake within a sprint, be it development, testing, design, review tasks or test automation. This makes it easier to keep track of the quality of work and get every person’s understanding of the expected work on the same page.

Incomplete Stories

More often than not, user stories being developed in the sprint get stuck at some tricky juncture toward the end. Situations may arise where you reached the last day of the sprint but there are still things holding up the team:

  • Development of the story was completed but testing is still underway
  • Developers and testers paired to conduct tests but some critical issues remain in the feature that need fixing
  • Development and testing are completed but the automation script is yet to be created for regression of the feature (and automation was part of the exit criteria for the user story)
  • Code review is pending, although it is already checked in and working fine
  • Tests for the user story were not added to the test management system even though the tester has performed exploratory tests

Due to any of these reasons or a similar situation, the user story will be incomplete at the end of the sprint. At this point, that feature cannot be deemed fit for release and cannot be counted as delivered.

Technical Debt

In a fast-paced agile environment, we cannot shirk off any part of our work or leave it for later. This becomes technical debt that is hard to pay off. The longer we do not pick up the task, the harder it gets to find the time and spend the effort on it while working on ongoing tasks at the same pace… Continue Reading

Defining Exit Criteria for different phases of your Agile project

Exit criteria are a list of items to check off that define the end of any activity. Exit criteria can be defined for any activity you want to undertake: You can have exit criteria for cooking veggies to the desired doneness, or for a city tour to be sure you see all the sights, or for a meeting to assign action items for everyone! Exit criteria are helpful to tell you (and others involved) when to stop the activity. Specifically, for an agile project, having clear and concise exit criteria makes it easier to understand the scope and avoid going overboard while keeping a tab on your quality. 

In my article published at Gurock https://blog.gurock.com/agile-exit-criteria/ , I have discussed some ways to structure your exit criteria at the sprint, user story, and task levels in an agile project.

The first rule for exit criteria is to have them defined up front, before beginning the activity.

For an agile project, let’s say we want to have exit criteria in place for the end of the sprint. We will need to work on defining them at the beginning of the sprint, or at the release-planning stage. Once the activity begins, the goal is to achieve all exit criteria by the end. We cannot have people defining or changing the planned exit criteria during execution of the activity, since that will not be upholding the quality standards set in the beginning.

The second rule is to have standard exit criteria for all similar activities. So, exit criteria defined for the sprint level apply to all sprints in that release, and exit criteria defined for the user story level apply to all user stories in all sprints. This upholds the same standard of quality and expectation of work required for each of these work units.

In the article, I have discussed sample Exit Criteria for Sprint, User Story or Task level and also shown how to create your own exit criteria based on your project’s and team’s context.

The important things to focus on are having the exit criteria defined up front and ensuring follow-through by sticking to the criteria throughout your release cycle. Being consistent with checking off everything on your exit criteria list ensures a smooth flow of high-quality work.

Check out the complete article here – >