More and more Scrum teams realize the benefits of adopting Kanban to manage their work more effectively. And the benefits are countless. Adopting practices from both worlds is a very effective strategy, which provides many businesses with an unprecedented competitive advantage.

Today, we’ll explore how your team can leverage Kanban analytics to streamline your Scrum events and improve the predictability of your delivery system.

Sprint Planning Meeting: Determine the Amount of Work You Can Commit To

The goal of Sprint Planning is to come up with an agreement on what will get done and how it will be achieved. And the first step to make an objective decision on how much work your team can handle during the Sprint is to explore your capability. The most effective approach you can take is to look into your previous sprints and see how many items you have completed per sprint in the past 3 to 6 months.Scrum events - Throughput HistogramThe Throughput Histogram shows the number of items you completed in a certain period. To track the number of tasks delivered per sprint, we will group our data by 2 weeks and we will set the start date of the chart to match the start of a sprint.

Looking into the example above, we can see that there was 1 sprint in which this team managed to deliver 5 items, 2 sprints in which they finished 10 items, 1 sprint with 12 items, another 2 sprints with 14 items, and so forth. You can now use this analysis in your next Sprint Planning to better understand your capacity. 

Let’s analyze the example above. This team can schedule at least 5 items. This is their absolute minimum. They guarantee that they will deliver at least 5 items and that commitment comes with a 98% certainty that this will happen. 

Then, there is an 85% chance that they will deliver at least 10 items and a 70% chance that they will finish more than 12 items. The chance that they will complete 14 items drops down to about 50%.

Even though this team managed to finish 24 items in one of their previous sprints, it is unlikely that they will be able to deliver that much work consistently (the probability that comes with this commitment is less than 30%). If they commit to that number, it is very likely that some of the work will be rescheduled for the next iteration.

Use this information as a guide to determine the amount of product backlog items necessary to achieve your sprint goal. And if your team commits to a number that comes with low confidence of that being achieved, put that commitment into question. The greatest benefit of performing analysis based on throughput is that it represents your actual capability to deliver.

Daily Standup Meeting: Plan the Work for the Day

The purpose of the Daily Standup is to agree on a plan for the day so that you can frequently inspect and adapt. 

To keep your workflow stable and preserve the predictability of your delivery system, the most important aspect that you should focus on is to evaluate the age of the remaining items. The Aging Chart is the tool at your disposal that will help you track your WIP age.Scrum events - Aging ChartThe Aging Chart has the same structure as your board with columns representing the states in your workflow. The height of the dots depicts how much time each work item has already spent in progress. The higher the dot, the larger the chance of a delay.

The colored zones draw the timeline of how your previous work items moved through your process. We recommend looking into the items that cross the yellow zone, as these items have already spent more time in your process than half of the tasks completed so far.

During your Daily Standup, walk the Aging Chart from right to left, top to bottom. Keep your focus on the work items that are close to being completed and have spent the most time in the process. Let your team handle them first. That way, you’ll prevent your work from aging artificially which in turn will improve the predictability of your system.

3 PRINCIPLES TO EFFECTIVE DAILY STANDUP MEETINGS

Explore the guidelines that will keep your daily meetings streamlined, effective, and focused on delivering results.

Sprint Retrospective Meeting: Identify Opportunities for Improvement

During the Sprint Retrospective, our main goal is to look into the different aspects of the work and identify opportunities for improvement. 

Analyzing the Cycle Time Scatterplot is of great help here. The chart visualizes all of your completed tasks as dots scattered on a plot. The horizontal axis is a timeline, while the vertical axis shows the time needed to complete the work.Scrum events - Cycle Time ScatterplotThe Cycle Time Scatterplot will help you identify the outliers in your process – the focus here should be on the items at the top of the chart – those with the longest cycle times. Pay special attention to the items with a cycle time longer than 14 days. These items have been moving from sprint to sprint. Analyze them, and create an action plan to prevent this from happening again.

Another important aspect is to analyze the blockers that occurred during your sprint and raise awareness of the impact they have on your performance. The slightly bigger, red dots represent tasks that have been flagged as blocked at any point during their lifecycle. Scrum events - Cycle Time Scatterplot with BlockersIdentifying and solving the root causes behind blocked work is one of the most effective ways of enabling evolutionary change. You can leverage the list of blockers compiled by the Cycle Time Scatterplot to perform blocker clustering analysis and prioritize those that affect your delivery times the most.

No matter how much you plan, there’s always going to be some level of uncertainty at play. It can be distressful when unplanned work pops up in the middle of the sprint. Analyzing the amount of unanticipated work and assessing the impact it had on your sprint goal brings about opportunities for improvement.Scrum events - Throughput Breakdown ChartThe Throughput Breakdown Chart is a great tool to use when it comes to emphasizing the high volume of unplanned work that your team has to deal with. It displays all of your completed work items split by classes of service, thereby exposing the percentage of Expedite work in the overall work you’ve delivered.

If you observe that handling unplanned work during your sprints becomes a pattern, consider reserving capacity upfront to manage unanticipated tasks effectively and ensure it doesn’t affect the progress of the rest of your work.

Kanban and Scrum Greatly Complement Each Other

Use Kanban Analytics to streamline your Scrum events and make them more effective. Keep your current metrics and analytics, and use the charts above to bring in more visibility into how the work flows through your system.

It’s a common misconception that Kanban and Scrum are mutually exclusive. On the contrary, Kanban and Scrum greatly complement each other.

The reality is that you shouldn’t choose between the two; rather, you should discover which practices work best for your team, and flex the system accordingly.

And by flexing, we mean using Kanban and Scrum together in order to plan, track, and manage your work more efficiently, so that you can release better products, faster.

If you’re willing to explore how Scrum teams can manage their work effectively and build sustainable delivery workflows, I’d be thrilled to welcome you to our Sustainable Predictability program.

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