Great teams huddle regularly to make sure that everyone knows the play and is set-up to win.
- Review the prioritized work before beginning any building activities.
- Look for dependencies on other work items (does another task have to be complete before/after this one?).
- Is it ready for working on or is there some outstanding questions still? Some flexibility is fine, but vague ideas or requirements are not good candidates for this play.
- What are the risks? Ask the team if this doesn’t get done, what will happen? How do we plan for that? Are there work-arounds?
- Give an estimate to each item of work. Many teams use hours (work effort not duration) as that is easily understandable across the organization. Agile teams use points as a way to size work. Team should use whatever units work best for the organization.
- Allow for some contingency time if things don’t go as planned. Hopefully, you won’t need this but be prepared for it ahead of time in case you do. Determine if there are any planned Personal Time Off (PTO) for anyone on the team. Readjust work commitment if needed.
- Get a commitment from each builder for the proposed work that will need to be completed in this upcoming iteration.
Make sure everyone is ALL IN!
In time management, timeboxing allocates a fixed time period, called a timebox, within which planned activity takes place. It is used by several project management approaches and for personal time management.
- Determine a set time period for completing the tasks in this iteration. Agile teams often do a two-week period. Waterfall teams use a period that aligns to requirements for a particular milestone.
Taking time out of building activities to check in with the coach and team is critical! In business these are often check-in meetings or in Scrum called stand-up meetings. This regular sync keeps the team focused on the goal.
Daily stand-ups typically take this format:
- 15 minutes or less
- Each person states three things:
- What I did yesterday
- What I plan to do today
- Any blockers in my way
- Offline any discussions that are not quickly answered topics
Project check-in/status meetings typically take this format:
- Project/milestone progress and updates
- Risk review and issue log updates
- Next steps and follow-up actions
GET ON THE FIELD
Time to get out there and build it. Make sure you have all the tools and equipment you need to be successful. Here are some tips on how to execute successfully:
- Focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth and context switching is expensive. So just work on one task at a time until it is done or as far as you can take it.
- Avoid interrupts. With all of today’s distractions it is amazing we get anything done. If you can, set yourself on Do Not Disturb mode on any social platforms as well as your phone. Even if it is only for a short period it will boost productivity significantly. Block out your calendar and list the task as your subject as a reminder.
- Ask for help. Know when it is better to ask for help then to keep struggling at a problem. Give yourself permission, “I am going to work at this for ________ time, if I don’t solve it by the end, then I will ask ________ for help.”
- Celebrate the wins! Look for opportunities to focus on wins for yourself and your team mates. Give a shout-out to someone who went out of their way to help you. You will get what you give – the more you recognize the positive wins, the more often you will see the winning moves.
The team did it – they won! Now that the building activity is complete it is time to show off the goods.
- Schedule a demo meeting with stakeholders. This is where you will show off all your hard work! A demo should be short and sweet overview of the outcome. This is not a training session or a knowledge transfer, so take any detailed questions offline.
- Document solution and any how-to information. This knowledge transfer is critical for any solution but often gets skipped as it isn’t as fun as the building. This investment now will save the team time later during testing and validation activities.
- Tie up any loose ends. This may mean logging time, closing out a ticket or running a report. These closing activities formally conclude the building phase.
It is important to review the game and ask if there is opportunities to improve. This particular retrospect is for the building activities for this specific group of tasks. Keep it short and sweet. Review:
- What went well?
- What could have gone better?
- What should we change for next time?
This play is meant to run several times during the course of a project execution phase. Some teams do this every two-weeks and others may do this every quarter. Determine what works best for your organization.
Want to learn more about Agile estimation techniques? Check out this article from ReQtest.