Why Look At This
When batch sizes are too large:
- It causes people to be less effective
- It causes delays in the workflow and in getting feedback which creates waste
- It delays the realization of value
- It makes it difficult to collaborate
Desired batch size by level:
- Being worked on by an individual (e.g., story) – less than three days
- Work in process for a team (e.g., team backlog) – less than 2 weeks
- Work in process for an organization – 1-3 months, the smaller the better
Symptoms That Your Batches Are Too Large
- People working on too many projects
- Work taking much longer than it should
- Projects being worked on by many people part time
What Causes This
Common causes are:
- Not using minimum Business Increments
- Not developing in small increments
- Not managing dependencies between teams making it difficult to decompose what needs to be built
What We Want To Achieve
Working on small batches at the different parts of the value stream. At the intake part of the value stream we should be using MVPs and MBIs. At the program level, we should be having small components that can be built and validated. At the team level we should have as little work in process as possible while keeping people productive.
- Use MBIs to have smaller batches coming in
- Decouple teams so the total work in process can be lowered
- Have cross-functional and focused solution teams so fewer items so batches coming in can be completed quickly
- An essential one is using MBIs.
- 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 (see Manage Work-in-Process (WIP) by Focusing on Finishing for more
Other Simplicity Factors That Are Directly Related To This One
- The value density of the items being worked on
- Batch size of work
- Effectiveness/efficiency of the value streams
- Visibility of work and workflow
- How workload relates to capacity
- A minimal number of interruptions from outside the value stream
- The rate at which we get feedback
- Quality of the product
- The value creation structure of the organization
- Organize for Complexity: How to Get Life Back Into Work to Build the High-Performance Organization by Niels Pflaeging. This is a great book and goes well beyond discussing the value creation structure.
- Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais. This is a really good read that discusses how Conway'sLaw has a far more reaching impact on our work and communication than one might expect.
- Dynamic Re-teaming: The Art and Wisdom of Changing Teams by Heidi Helfand. This is a very useful and pragmatic work. Heidi provides a lot of great advice based on experience. If you are coaching growing organizations this is a must read.
- Agile Organizational Design by Jeff Anderson. This book provides several options on organizing teams.