Disciplined Agile

Simplicity Factor: How Workload Relates To Capacity

Back to Dealing with Complexity by Creating a Bias For Simplicity

Why look at this

When workload exceeds capacity people tend to multi-task. This:

  • makes people less effective
  • causes delays in the workflow and in getting feedback which creates waste
  • delays the realization of value
  • makes it difficult to collaborate


Symptoms that work load is beyond capacity

  • People are working on too many projects
  • Work takes much longer than it should
  • Projects being worked on by many people part time


What causes this

Common causes are:

  • there is no controlled intake process. Note that the intake process includes how work waiting to be started is sized and sequenced.
  • product managers tell teams what they have to work on
  • no list of work in process across the development organization is being maintained
  • the work to be started is larger than it needs to be
  • MVPs are being used improperly


What we want to achieve

Work being pulled by the teams when they have the capacity to do the work.

Common solutions

The intake process is usually the weak point when teams are overloaded. It is the first place to look for improvement. Reasons for this include that this can be done with minimal reorganization of the value streams. It also has the greatest impact on the value streams since it sets up how much and what people work on.

  • Create visibility on all work in the system
  • Right-size the work waiting to be started using MVPs, MBIs, and MVRs appropriately
  • Sequence work to be pulled
  • Create a focus on finishing


Other simplicity factors that are directly related to this one