In this chapter, you'll find recommendations to manage **downstream** effectively.
In order for requirements to meet the DOR (Definition of Ready), they go through a defined lifecycle.
For the requirements to meet the DOD (Definition of Done), they go through the following stages:
Requirements Ready -> Sprint grooming -> Sprint planning -> Sprint execution (Development + QA Testing)
The following recommendations can help you manage downstream effectively.
Sprint Grooming, which consists of:
1. Epics/features to be developed in the nth sprint should be groomed in the (n-1)th sprint. Grooming in the same sprint leads to improper planning and delayed development.
2. Ensure proper attendance in grooming - leads, developers, and QA along with PO/BA and architects. Missing members leads to communication gaps and can result in increased bug counts later.
3. Record the grooming sessions for later reference.
4. Maintain a Query log (see a sample here) for open questions after grooming, and hold a follow-up session to clarify any doubts. BAs should provide answers against the query log.
5. Architects should carry out technical grooming (solution walkthrough) with the entire development team before the development begins. Having both frontend and backend in the same technical grooming will ensure the integration gaps are minimized.
Sprint Planning, which consists of:
1. Story estimation aims at arriving at estimates for each story (either in SP or PD) by the entire team, so the entire team’s participation is needed.
2. The team should have a common estimation model against which they should estimate. This will reduce the chances of varying estimates.
Access a Sample Estimation Guidelines Framework
3. Estimates (SP or PD) are the cumulative estimates of both dev and QA.
4. Story points should be based on three major factors: Complexity, Effort, and Uncertainty. Using a standard SP model based on these three factors will standardize the SPs.
5. Some factors to consider while planning for capacity include the impact of unplanned leaves, the impact of COVID, and the effort required to be planned for tech debt (if no hardening sprint is considered in overall plan).
6. It is very important to do a proper assignment of stories (keeping in mind the team's strengths and weaknesses) and proper tasking of stories with original estimates captured on the first day of the sprint.
Access a Sample Story Point Framework
Sprint Execution, which consists of:
1. Commit stories in a sprint as per the load factor of the team. (Ideal load is 78-80% of the team’s capacity) [Capacity = No. of Dev & QA x working days in a sprint].
2. The first day of the sprint should focus only on planning and requirement analysis. The better the requirement analysis by dev and QA, the better will be the quality of delivery.
Access a Sample Sprint Cadence
3. To reduce understanding gaps, the test cases should be reviewed by BA and shared with the dev.
4. Any gaps in the story (discrepancies between AC and VD or between AC and solution) should be raised before delivering the story.
Discussions at a later stage when a bug is raised increase the cycle time of fix.
5. There should be a proper sprint cadence with dev cut-off date, deployment to each environment dates well defined, and strictly followed throughout the sprint.
6. The delivery of stories to the QA team should be planned in batches rather than as a big bang towards the sprint end.
7. The deliveries should not only be certified by the Product team but by Architects, as well.
This will ensure that no tech debts are accumulated and that the development is in accordance with the solution.
For this, a weekly review by architects during the development and testing phase should be a part of the sprint cadence.
8. Stand-ups should be duly and properly held where the status of each item in the sprint should be tracked rather than the status of each individual.
Access a Sample Standup Tracker
9. Daily or at least each alternate day SOS is a must for effectively managing digital transformation programs.
Access a Sample SOS Tracker