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One of the issues my organisation has is where change requests are requested during a sprint cycle in a particular high volume worksteam. The development team are often forced to accept these change requests, where any resistance results in an escalation, which results with somebody high up in the business just telling the dev team to do it. Thus, team is constantly over-committing every sprint cycle.

I have highlighted this as an issue to Senior management, showing the impact the additional work is having on morale and quality, but nothing seems to be changing at org level, and they seem to think the problem is at team level. Hence, keep trying to address the issue by adding and removing Scrum Masters; where they all are having the same problem.

What is the best way to address this?

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  • If it to happen all the time then why not to schedule for this and to leave slack extra time in sprint cycles? – Issy Forst Jan 8 at 15:47
  • @IssyForst Leaving more slack is certainly an option if the goal is to maintain predictable delivery of forecasted deliverables. However, beyond a certain point, slack by itself can be insufficient to handle continuous process disruption. While limiting planned capacity can also act as a tool for enhancing visibility, it's often harder (politically) to defend because it's a predictive value that impacts planning, rather than a trailing metric that shows outcomes. YMMV. – Todd A. Jacobs Jan 8 at 16:20
  • @IssyForst can't add slack if we are maxing capacity at the start of every sprint cycle – bobo2000 Jan 9 at 11:16
  • Then don't max capacity at the start of every sprint cycle? – Erik Jan 11 at 6:45
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TL;DR

You have both a political problem and a process problem. There is no silver bullet, and you can't fix these problems solely within the team. Instead, you must rely on the agile concepts of transparency and visibility to ensure that the costs associated with bypassing the process are charged to the project budget.

Make Costs Visible

In agile frameworks, change is never non-negotiable. If you are faced with "non-negotiable" requirements that make the goal or plan for the current iteration obsolete, then the team must scrap the plan.

This is true regardless of the agile framework you're using. In Scrum, the Product Owner cancels the Sprint and the Scrum Team returns to Sprint Planning. In Kanban, work is pulled off the board to meet work-in-progress (WIP) limits, and queued in the appropriate bucket until capacity is once again available. Your specific framework may vary in the way it implements this freeing up of capacity, but it's an essential component of any viable agile (and even non-agile) process.

The cost of replanning and re-queuing is made visible through metrics such as cycle time, cumulative flow, velocity, burn-down, or other framework- and implementation-specific metrics. Communicating about these costs is also essential. By presenting the data to stakeholders and company officers, you place the responsibility for those costs squarely where it belongs.

Schedule risk (like any risk) can be accepted, transferred, or mitigated. Which of these three options is best is a business decision, not a team decision. Regardless of the choice, senior management owns both the choice and the outcome.

See Also

https://pm.stackexchange.com/a/10829/4271

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I agree with Todd about it being a political and process problem.

I want to add that apart from showing them the impact on morale and quality -which I believe that they are quite important for your team- I would recommend having a discussion with them to understand why they believe it is useful to have this way of working and also prepare for them a "business case" that explores what is they key impact of this way of working for the senior management (trying to talk their own language basically).

Most of the times, this comes down to how much money they are losing by having this way of working. Examples of the impact to senior management are:

  • Delayed features due to the introduction of these changes
  • Bugs introduced due to quality issues that required to introduce more tasks in future releases.
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Thank you for your excellent question. There is four dimensions in business administration: planification, organization, direction and control. When you do a degree in business administration, you develop your personal abilities and skills to become better than others in living day to day those four dimensions. A project management tool or software is a technical help that you can use to help you be a better project manager. They are especially an help in the planification of any project. Some people told me when I was younger that they perform better under pressure; that they have more ideas and more innovations when they rush their work at the last minute. They study like that, they manage their family like that and they expect people to act like that unless they judge them less competent than themselves. If you plan your work in advance, they see you as over stressed and not able to take pressure. The fact of the matter is that meeting deadlines and not spending more than what you budget authorize you stresses them more than you. Many lose themselves in a sprint cycle, in a rush and in a high volume worksteam to forget the stress to finish their work on time. They become specialists in asking delays and more budget. Being to efficient is seem by them as showing to your boss that you don't have enough work to do in your job. It is a fact, creating a rush is seen as the most competent thing to do. I disagree all the way. What is the most competent thing to do is to create space in your project management for the surprises; to plan in advance time to solve problems that nobody saw coming. You are right, last minute work rushes influences of lot the ambiance at work and complaining about having too much work is seen as a weakness. When I was younger, I was told that you do your work before having fun. Today, most people want to have fun in their job or they don't do it. Having the satisfaction of a job well done come from the fact you have the abilities to plan, organize, direct and control your project. When everything have to look easy, developing an ability in planification can be seen as a weakness.

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    Would you mind breaking this up into paragraphs? It's very difficult to read like this. – Erik Jan 10 at 21:47

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