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sprint cancelled by PO

Last post 01:48 am September 17, 2016 by Ian Mitchell
2 replies
12:04 pm September 16, 2016

Hi all,

today in our SCRUM team, we had a special case, when PO cancelled the sprint. PO reason was:

"the progress in team is too slowly, and regarding the sprint-planning and missing estimations of all *** User stories, I cannot calculate a due date for the project. In the end, I cannot hold the deadline with my customer at all."

First of all:
1) PO tried to correlate the story-points with hours. WRONG
2) PO keep saying us that he promise the client to deliver maximum of stories until a date in the future.

What do you think about this situation.

Much appreciated.

02:29 pm September 16, 2016


A few initial thoughts:

1) How many sprints has the Development Team worked with this Product Owner? Is there a measurable velocity for the Development Team?

2) Has the Product Owner and Development Team been provided with Scrum training?

3) Have there been past discussions about Development Team performance (productivity, quality)? If so, what action items and results have come from such discussions?

From what you have said, it seems the Product Owner has canceled the sprint because they mismanaged expectations with their customer. That is unfortunate, but definitely not the fault of the Development Team.

Per the Scrum Guide, a sprint can ONLY be canceled if the Sprint Goal is no longer valid. It cannot be canceled because the Product Owner is not satisfied with the rate of progress on the items offered for that sprint. That is a violation of Scrum.

For Scrum to work:

- the Development Team must be in 100% control of how much work is accepted each sprint

- the Development Team must be in 100% control of how the sprint work is completed (according to DoD, meeting acceptance criteria)

- the Development Team must be 100% responsible for all estimates. They are the ones performing the work - they are best-positioned to gauge the effort needed

- the Product Owner is 100% responsible for managing the product and the release schedule. However, they have no authority over the Development Team. The Development Team must be allowed to self-manage around the work to be performed.

- If the Product Owner is not satisfied with the progress of the Development Team (and hopefully any issues have been discussed over several Sprint Retrospectives), it is within the Product Owner's right to "fire" the Development Team and seek another team to take their place. This is a very extreme case, though.

My guess is that the Product Owner is managing this like a typical project manager through a familiar command/control approach, and is not comfortable/familiar with the collaboration and communication required with Scrum.

01:48 am September 17, 2016

> "I cannot calculate a due date for the project"

The inability to calculate a due date for a project is no reason for canceling a Sprint. The only reason for cancellation is the understanding that the current Sprint Goal cannot be met. In that case, the PO ought to work with the Development Team to extract as much value out of the remainder of the Sprint time-box as possible, before planning the next.

Frankly, it doesn't sound as though your PO is much of a value maximizer. In principle at least, this would seem to represent a coaching opportunity for the Scrum Master.

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