Team struggle to complete sprint items

Last post 02:00 pm May 28, 2021
by Ben Jarvis
7 replies
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11:59 am May 17, 2021

While we expressed concern in retrospect, we are still having difficulty completing sprint goals. 

We have a frontend and backend developer on our team, and they choose products for which they are most comfortable. 

Ui developer works on user interface, while backend developer is taking  care of backend.

How can we make the team more self-organized and capable of picking things from all areas?

03:18 am May 18, 2021

they choose products for which they are most comfortable. 

How many products are there?

04:34 pm May 18, 2021

Your team is not acting like a team.  They are a group of individual contributors that do what they want.  And they sound like they are self-organizing in that manner.  

Your post raises more questions for me than I can provide answers.  For example:

  1. @Ian Mitchell's question
  2. Does the team work on features that span the entire technology stack or is it just a bunch of random fixes?
  3. Are you using Sprint Goals?
  4. How is your Product Owner ordering the Product Backlog?
  5. Is your team only 2 people?

If you concern is that the individuals have specialities, I don't really see that as a problem. In the Scrum Guide it states: 

Developers are the people in the Scrum Team that are committed to creating any aspect of a usable Increment each Sprint.

The specific skills needed by the Developers are often broad and will vary with the domain of work. However, the Developers are always accountable for:

  • Creating a plan for the Sprint, the Sprint Backlog;

  • Instilling quality by adhering to a Definition of Done;

  • Adapting their plan each day toward the Sprint Goal; and,

  • Holding each other accountable as professionals.

Nowhere in that statement does it say that everyone has to be capable of doing all the work needed.  In the 2017 version it stated

Development Teams are cross-functional, with all the skills as a team necessary to create a product Increment;

But that doesn't state that everyone has to be able to do all the work, either.  It says that the team needs to have all the skills necessary which can be done by having specialization (i.e. UI and backend).

Can you elaborate more on the statement 

While we expressed concern in retrospect, we are still having difficulty completing sprint goals.

Is the splitting of work the only thing you could determine to be the problem with completing sprint goals? Could there be other reasons?

07:15 pm May 23, 2021
  1. @Ian Mitchell's question

      We are working on one product which you can say a feature of big product.

      2Does the team work on features that span the entire technology stack or is it just a bunch of random fixes?

     Our team is working on one feature which is part of big product.

      3. Are you using Sprint Goals?

     No. We have written definition of done and check before closing any PBI.

     4. How is your Product Owner ordering the Product Backlog?

     Product Owner tries to find the most important Product Backlog Item and discuss with team.

     5. Is your team only 2 people?

    No. We are group of 10 people.

    6. Is the splitting of work the only thing you could determine to be the problem with completing sprint goals? Could there be other reasons?

     Team is not self organized and want to stay remain focus on which they feel comfortable. How can be break this thought?

 

10:50 am May 25, 2021

If you have a clear Definition of Done which each PBI is meeting, there is an opportunity to release value early and often. Is that happening? If so, are stakeholders satisfied with the value the team is actually providing?

02:46 pm May 25, 2021

Team is not self organized and want to stay remain focus on which they feel comfortable.

So the team is self organizing by remaining focused on that which they feel comfortable.  If everyone on the team is ok with that, that is self organization.

 3. Are you using Sprint Goals?

     No. We have written definition of done and check before closing any PBI.

In your original statement you said 

While we expressed concern in retrospect, we are still having difficulty completing sprint goals. 

But you say that you are not using Sprint Goals. If you aren't using them then you would indeed have difficulty completing them.  Sprint Goals help teams to pull related items from the Product Backlog into the Sprint Backlog.  They help the Developers focus on work that will provide incremental value. They help the Developers focus their Daily Scrum on a specific goal and work can be planned in order to meet that goal.

  Product Owner tries to find the most important Product Backlog Item and discuss with team.

Could the Product Owner use a different method of trying to find the most important items?  By crafting Sprint Goals the entire Scrum Team can help to identify the most important items needed to satisfy the Sprint Goal.  The Product Owner can focus on determining the most import value needed and discuss that with the team.  

As you can see I'm suggesting that Sprint Goals can help you stop focusing on individual work and start focusing on work done by a team to accomplish a common purpose. 

 

04:57 pm May 25, 2021

Just my 2 cents based on what has been asked and responded above... When I read that the team is having difficulty completing sprint goal, does it mean that not all stories committed during the sprint get 'Done'? 

If that is the case, there is more to look beyond the  lack of cross skills ( is that really what the team needs to do?)  to get to the cause of it. There could be more reasons that can contribute to sprint scope not getting delivered .....Overall understanding of scope, clear DOD , Acceptance Criteria, Dependencies within and outside the team, estimates , assessment of complexity, overly committed  scope  .... etc 

In terms of skill sets within the team, the Backend and Frontend skills are usually distinct in nature. In an ideal world , one would expect everyone to know everything , but that is neither practical nor realistic as we all now.

On the other hand, specialisation can also be a great thing for the team as the team develops mastery over that area and usually leads to better turn around time for the specific tasks assigned to them. Based on the comments above, the team seems to be organising the work based on their specialised area and if this does not lead to idle capacities , then I do not see any harm in staying as specialised.

If the team believes that having both the skills is vital for them to succeed, you may try with few volunteers who would be interested to pick up these complementary skills and see if that really benefits the team.

01:56 pm May 28, 2021

Just my opinion :)

 

While we expressed concern in retrospect, we are still having difficulty completing sprint goals. 

  • Why do the dev team think is the cause of them not achieving the sprint goals? Are they having issues with estimation? Are they collaborating effectively in daily stand up?
  • What changes have you introduced from your retrospectives into new sprints to help overcome this issue?
  • And why don't the team believe they have worked?

Ui developer works on user interface, while backend developer is taking  care of backend.... How can we make the team more self-organized and capable of picking things from all areas?

  • I don't believe that's the issue here - all dev teams have specialist roles, this feels as though the dev team are not investing time in sprint planning to agree how they, as a holistic team, will work together on the stories to get it done; OR they are not using the daily stand up effectively to raise impediments they face and have the rest of the team rally around them.