Persistent Signatures

Persistent Signatures




The wild fluctuations shown on a team’s initial sprint burndown charts continue to be seen in much later sprints.




In Agile Software Development with Scrum, Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle write about each team having a unique signature—some teams bring in too much work at the start of a sprint, others bring in too little, and so on. However, it is important that a team learn from its past sprints. For example, suppose a team of five started the last sprint with an estimated 600 hours of work (the first point on their sprint burndown chart). Midway through that sprint they realized they were attempting too much and worked with the Product Owner to remove 100 hours of work. Now, in planning the next sprint they again want to bring in 600 hours of work. They need to look at that and answer for themselves why they think they can achieve 600 hours of estimated work this sprint when it was too much last sprint. Over time, as teams learn about themselves and their project their sprint burndown charts should lose the wild variations that may have existed in initial sprints and begin to somewhat approximate the idealized straight line. If this trend is not apparent for a team then they are missing opportunities to learn from their own past performance.



Credit: this is based on material from Toward A Catalog Of Scrum Smells by Mike Cohn.