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scrum velocity when team members change

Last post 08:15 am February 17, 2016 by Olivier Ledru
3 replies
05:53 am February 15, 2016

Hi Everyone,

We're currently 6 in the scrum team: 1 Scrum Master, 1 PO, 1 BA, and 3 Technical developers.

We've been a team for a year already, but this month, the entire group of technical developers will be replaced with new people. The previous 3 is still in the company and available for consultation.

The PO is saying that the customer should not be impacted by this change, hence the velocity should be maintained, momentum should continue improving.

But I'm reasoning that since our members changed, it is expected that velocity will be impacted, based on the agile philosophy that team members should not be seen as machines.

PO insists that this adjustment should be managed internally and not impact the customer, in other words the velocity of the team should not decrease because of the change in members.

As the scrum master, I'm having difficulty defending my position because the PO sounds right.

I need help to have clarity on my situation and how to manage it.

I'm thankful for insights you could share: how should a scrum master deal with this situation?

thank you,

03:58 am February 17, 2016

Imagine a soccer team in the world cup. You are the coach and have reached semi-finals with them. Now the team manager tells you he will replace the whole team with new players before the finals, but the team performance should not be impacted and the goal is still to win the world cup. Does that also "sound right"? Because it's the same your PO is telling you.
What you can do is to make the impact on the client transparent to the person who decided that your team is replaced.
The organization must understand the consequences of insane decisions.

07:57 am February 17, 2016

> PO insists that this adjustment should be
> managed internally and not impact the
> customer, in other words the velocity of the
> team should not decrease because of the
> change in members.

If the PO is being advised that a restructuring of the Development Team is likely to result in a short-term drop in productivity, then he or she has a responsibility to manage value and stakeholder expectations accordingly.

The advice being given would appear to be reasonable. A short-term drop in productivity would be the likely result of such a change. In other words, the drop *should* in fact happen, in the sense that it is a reasonable forecast, it is probable, and it ought to be expected and planned for.

If the PO has evidence that such a drop is unlikely to happen in this case, then he or she must provide that evidence to the rest of the team, so more realistic forecasts can be made. Where is it?

08:15 am February 17, 2016

The PO is not responsible for the process and for the velocity. Velocity is never high enough, for any PO.
The Scrum Master is responsible for the process.
Customer is impacted by the value delivered, not by the velocity.

You should expected a lower velocity for your new Dev Team for about 2 or 3 sprint.
The best you can do is to try and help the new Dev Team crystalize as quickly as possible, and to help the PO to prioritized the Product Backlog in order to deliver value to the customer.

Maybe you can use this opportunity to coach your PO to focus on his own duty, which is to maximize the value and not to ask the Dev Team for miracles. Even if your Dev Team doesn't change, the PO can't expected the velocity to be something predictable. Remind the PO that we are using an empirical process.

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