A theme that seems to be popping up in my conversations with individuals participating in “agile” projects is that it is begining to feal like you are in a constant “death march”. Business continues to press for “more productivity” and has to respond to a constantly changing and competitive marketplace. In traditional waterfall projects many are used to the last couple months becoming the death march. Long hours, lots of stress, a changing triage bar for defects, all hands on deck as you surge to get the product done “on time”. This may mean you have 10 months of a “normal” life and then two months of hell.
But as companies move toward Agile, every two weeks may be a new release. That is a possibility for 26 sprints per year. If two of the working days of your 10 day sprint are a death march, that is 52 days per year vs. 40 days in the “annual” program. A more than 25% increase in death march days. The Agile Manifesto states:
“…Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely…”
The question is what is sustainable. I am hearing stories that don’t sound like only the last 2 days of a sprint are a death march. Every day feels like a death march. This isn’t a new topic, I have included links below to some posts on the topic. Organizations, actually teams, need to determine what is sustainable for the team. WIP limits need to be understood. A freeway filled to 100% capacity is a parking lot. Don’t let a shift to agile mean a shift to constant running. Global business and mobile devices only make this a more challenging battle.
Is your organization marching up hill or has it found discipline to not only be sustainable but found that you are more productive not just in time to value but driving customer sat and improving quality? What did it take for your team to succeed?