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I am trying to improve the Agile process by which a team works.

They currently have a Kanban board but they aren't necessarily using it effectively.

They have 2 types of tasks: 1) New project work - some could be development, some could be researching a new tool etc 2) Issues which arise - bugs and issues which arise out of the blue which they need to sort out immediately

Unfortunately the nature of the two types of work make it difficult to follow a prioritised backlog, enforce WIP limits etc. Does anyone have any ideas how to improve this?

EDIT

So issues are always higher priority than project work, so teams always have to 'pause' project work to handle issues which are unrelated.

The team can be thought of as second line support and R&D of new work often unrelated.

  • Can you expand on what makes it difficult to follow a prioritized backlog? It seems to me that just about anything can be broken up into a list of tasks. – JDRoger Nov 30 '15 at 17:53
  • Are those issues of the priority "drop everything and start working in this right now", or more like "this should be the next thing being picked up"? – Bart van Ingen Schenau Nov 30 '15 at 18:20
  • The nature of the work you describe shouldn't make it difficult to follow a prioritised backlog or enforce WIP limits. There is something else at play here which is making this difficult (possible process and/or people)? Why isn't it working? – mwan Dec 1 '15 at 3:08
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To paraphrase the question, you have:

  • a project team that does BAU work
  • the need to do BAU work takes priority over project work
  • this makes it difficult to stay on track in an Agile project environment

The best approach is to divide your team, one focused on projects and the other on BAU. This minimizes time wasted in the switching of effort. But assuming that your workplace is like most others this isn't feasible due to a lack of qualified staff, the binge/purge nature of the type of BAU you have described, etc etc

So what you need to do is accept reality, estimate how much BAU work your team typically does during a sprint, and factor that into your WIP limits. This will help to ensure that your team has a manageable project workload and that expectations in terms of your ability to deliver projects are adequately managed.

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