Skip to main content

Sprint Length vs. Team agility

A practical measure of agility: What is the minimum time that a team (or a company) needs in order to deliver an increment of business value to its customers? This is more formally known as "minimum cycle time."

Example: Your sprint duration is 4 weeks. So how long does it take to deliver an increment of business value (where that increment is doable in the course of a single sprint)?
  • Best Case: 4 Weeks (request arrived just in time to be included in the next sprint)
  • Worst Case: 8 Weeks (request has to wait out a full sprint before being prioritized)
  • Average Case: 6 Weeks (1 1/2 * sprint length).
Why? It's clear the team needs the duration of one sprint to realize the functionality, but under normal circumstances, the team can only start processing a request when that requested is included in the planning meeting at the beginning of the sprint. So it has to wait until the start of the next Sprint. That duration depends on where you are in the current sprint: beginning, middle or end.

By mainting a constant 4 week sprint duration, you can guarantee to management or to customers an average response time of 6 weeks, and a worst case of 8 weeks. If the sprint duration is variable or not defined, it is very difficult to measure or calculate how agile the team is, which is probably a synonym for "not very".

BTW - there are a variety of strategies for improving this measure of agility: shorter sprints, multiple teams with overlappying start dates (you're never more than 2 weeks away from a sprint planning, so you average response time is reducted from 6 weeks to 5 weeks, and the worst case from 8 to 6 weeks).

Comments

MrsCross said…
Hello,

I'm new to scrum and agile development and we are working towards implementing this where I work.

Would you please explain this with a little more detail?

Thank you,

Jackie
Peter said…
Hi Jackie,

Thanks for the suggestion! As a first step, I put up a poll to see what scrum teams are actually doing.

Did you see my post How long to Sprint? It deals with many of these issues.

Or do you have a specific question?

Cheers,

Peter

Popular posts from this blog

Sample Definition of Done

Why does Scrum have a Definition of Done? Simple, everyone involved in the project needs to know and understand what Done means. Furthermore, Done should be really done, as in, 'there is nothing stopping us from earning value with this function, except maybe the go-ahead from the Product Owner. Consider the alternative:
Project Manager: Is this function done?
Developer: Yes
Project Manager: So we can ship it?
Developer: Well, No. It needs to be tested, and I need to write some documentation, but the code works, really. I tested it... (pause) ...on my machine. What's wrong with this exchange? To the developer and to the project manager, "done" means something rather different. To the developer in this case, done means: "I don't have to work on this piece of code any more (unless the tester tells me something is wrong)." The project leader is looking for a statement that the code is ready to ship.

At its most basic level, a definition of Done creates a sh…

Scaling Scrum: SAFe, DAD, or LeSS?

Participants in last week's Scrum MasterClass wanted to evaluate approaches to scaling Scrum and Agile for their large enterprise. So I set out to review the available frameworks. Which one is best for your situation?

Recently a number of approaches have started gaining attention, including the Scaled Agile Framework ("SAFe") by Dean Leffingwell, Disciplined Agile Development (DAD), by Scott Ambler, and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. (Follow the links for white papers or overviews of each approach).

How to compare these approaches? My starting point is Scrum in the team. Scrum has proven very effective at helping teams perform, even though it does not directly address the issues surrounding larger organizations and teams. An approach to scaling Scrum should not be inconsistent with Scrum itself.

Scrum implements a small number of principles and constraints: Inspect and Adapt. An interdisciplinary Team solves the problem. Deliver something of va…

Five Simple Questions To Determine If You Have the Agile Mindset

My company has started a top-down transition to Scrum and Kanban. Will that make us an Agile company? About 2 years ago, I attended a conference hosted by the Swiss Association for Quality on the topic of Agility. As a warm-up exercise, the participants were given the 4 values of the Agile Manifesto, then asked to arrange themselves in space. How Agile is your company? How Agile do you think it should be? Very Agile on left, very traditional on the right. There was a cluster of people standing well to the right of center. “Why are you standing on the right?” It turns out that they were all from the railway. “Our job is to run the trains on time.” They were uncertain whether this agility thing was really aligned with their purpose.
Is Agility limited to software? Steve Denning has collected the evidence and laid out the case that Agile is not limited to software, nor is it merely a process, nor is it something you can do with part of your time, nor is it something you can have your …