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Techniques for eliminating un-done work

There are reasons why Scrum Teams may have un-done work at the end of the Sprint, but these occurrences should be infrequent as they are detrimental to the team’s ability to deliver value. There are various techniques that they can try to minimize having un-done work, including:

  • Ensuring that everyone on the Scrum Team understands and commits to upholding the team’s Definition of Done. A team’s Definition of Done (DoD) is a reflection of a shared agreement among the team’s members about the minimum quality bar for the product Increment. The DoD is not aspirational nor is it just a “nice to have”.  A team’s DoD reflects the conditions that the entire team agrees upon to consider something to be complete and ready to be released and adhering to it is essential for transparency and continuous improvement of the product. 
  • Gaining experience in the problem and solution domains. As Scrum Team members gain experience working together, obtain a better understanding of the problem domain and customer needs, and become more skilled with the tools and techniques they need to meet these needs, they will improve their ability to better forecast work items and form effective Sprint Plans. 
  • Using supporting forecasting techniques. Adopting simulation techniques like Monte Carlo forecasting, using statistical data models to understand team capacity, or using models of technical complexity, can augment a Scrum Team’s experience to help them form better, more realistic Sprint Plans. Be aware that forecasting techniques can be flawed for different reasons, like incorrect assumptions or the inability to account for expected events.
  • Minimizing interruptions and impediments. Interruptions steal productive capacity from the team by diverting their focus. Protecting the team by reducing these will help them to be more effective.

    Other impediments can also prevent a team from making further progress until the impediments are removed. For example:

    • Lack of important resources the team needs to be effective, including meeting or team rooms and spaces (virtual), or development and testing environments (for product development work 
    • Lack of direct access to customers, to gather needs and feedback
    • Lack of access to other expertise, whether technical, legal, procedural, or contractual, to provide skills that the team needs but does not have
    • Lack of timely decisions on matters the team is not empowered to make itself.  Delays in making decisions results in decision latency, which is a drain on team effectiveness 



This video explains Monte Carlo Simulation. Monte Carlo Simulations can be used to make probabilistic forecasts. This video explains how it can be used in the context of product delivery.
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Un-done work is work that does not conform to the Definition of Done and is therefore unfinished. It represents time the Scrum Team spent creating something that delivered no value. Learn what un-done work is, what causes it and techniques for eliminating it.