A software applications development team within a large health insurance company was struggling to deliver the work they had committed month after month. Each two-week sprint they would consistently commit to a set of deliverables, and then under-deliver by progressively 7% to 33% three sprints later. Their management and business partners were frustrated, and because the work was falling behind, they were asked to increasingly over-commit to catch up, exacerbating the problem. In addition the team was highly frustrated and feeling inadequate to solve the problem.
I worked with product, scrum, and engineering to identify the root problems as the Agile team was feeling out of control of their own delivery due to multiple input sources with competing priorities. Expectations forced the team to perform at a level beyond what they were comfortable. By communicating root problems and building consensus for potential solutions we worked with management to allow the team to experiment, and with the team to clearly set priorities while identifying their actual capacity.
The team immediately responded and in their first sprint delivered 20% more work than committed. Over the following four sprints they increased their output, delivering up to 35% more than committed. In addition their output is 30% higher than their original, unmet commitments. Team morale improved considerably, and the team is now seen as a model delivery team within the Product & IT organization.
Working with the team resulted in
•Increased team output
•Increased team morale
•Agile viewed by management as very successful
•Willingness to try this approach with other teams