Performing a Simple Process Health Checkup

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or rhythm to work. Sprint cycles are fixed in length and should start and stop on the same day each week. A daily standup meeting is held at the same time every day. Activities such as sprint planning sessions ideally start at the same time of day on each day they occur. This regular rhythm, found across most agile timeboxes and activities, is so common that many refer to it as a "heartbeat." The alternative is lots of ad hoc meetings that speckle your calendar and create unpredictable days. Score your project high if important activities are scheduled at a regular frequency and far into the future. Score your project lower if important activities are thought of at the last minute or scheduled for ad hoc times.

Now what?
If you went through this exercise, you've likely scored higher on some properties and lower on others. Start with the areas on which you score lowest and discuss what you could change that would improve things. Introduce only a couple changes at a time, make sure the whole team understands and agrees to them, and then agree on a time to come back and reassess the team to see if the changes have helped. The assessment and changes you discuss are an example of reflective improvement-the second property above.

Software development is never easy, and anyone who tells you it is selling something. Doing this sort of assessment routinely will result in a productive discussion about improving your current process. Making small specific changes to the way you do things on a regular basis will help you improve your process, the quality of the product you build, and happiness of everyone involved.

About the author

Jeff Patton's picture Jeff Patton

Jeff Patton leads Agile Product Design, a small consultancy that focuses on creating healthy processes that result in products that customers love. Articles, essays, and blog can be found at www.AgileProductDesign.com. Information about public classes, including Certified Scrum Training, can be found at www.AgileProductDesign.com/training.

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