The transition to agile requires major changes to many roles outside of the development group. One of the bigger impacts is on how projects are managed. I came across an example of this week. An agile team did not complete all of the stories for a sprint. The reaction of the program manager was to ask the development team to add that story to the next sprint without taking out any of the planned stories. The goal was to “catch up” to the original schedule, and the inevitable result will be that the development team will miss the target for the next sprint.
Of course the desire to “make up” for lost time is pretty universal in software projects, it is one of the reasons that Tim Cargill ninety-ninety rule “The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time” still holds true.
The reality is that if one of the stories in the backlog had a estimate that was too optimistic, others will also have the same issue. By using past progress as an accurate estimate of future progress, agile development highlights bad news early in the process. The hard part is to trust your burn down charts, accept the bad news and adapt to the new reality.
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