I am the scrum master for a project that involves not only software, but firmware development, electrical engineering and industrial design.

Some tasks involve a small amount of time from a team member, let's say 1 story point, but the definition of done for that story involves ordering parts that have a certain lead time that might span one or two sprints.

How to you represent that knowledge (or don't) in your product backlog? That info is vital for long term planning, but nowhere I look (I'm using Microsoft TFS for scrum automation) I see support for lead times.


In the ideal world, you'd work with your supplier to help them become more Agile so that they could fulfil your requests more quickly.

In the real world, pragmatism rules. We normally identify elements with long lead-time - usually computers and servers for testing, in our case - and get those elements in place. It can help to have visibility of the full, high-level backlog so that the team can identify these elements more easily. You can do this by listing the business outcomes and user / system capabilities that need to be achieved.

If you're using a tool which only covers discrete concerns, add a small story to remind yourself about the lead times.

Don't order the items too far in advance, though. Real Options may be helpful in working out when the last responsible moment is, and how you can pay to keep options open if appropriate.

At the end of the day, most useful Agile practices are based on extreme forms of common sense. We can still use the less extreme forms where applicable.


I'd make the lead time requirement a story in its own right with a reminder that this needs to be done in, say, (n) sprints ahead (n giving you enough time + buffer to get the order delivered) of the development story. Although not a real story, I do this with other systemic constraints in projects all the time. If the story card is clear enough it just won't get lost.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.