Did you feel tired with your Scrum Board which has over 20 columns and the flow is too complicated? If yes! It's the right time for you to look back and remove the complexity. The reason we apply Scrum is dealing with complexity, not making it bigger!

From my old post about "Definition of Workflow", some people asked me to write more detail about "how to build a workflow" and "how to apply it" to maximize the value of a team.
Today let's go through it. From Scrum With Kanban Guide - It describes 4 Kanban Practices to optimize your workflow:

Visualization of the workflow

Transparency is one of 3 essential pillars of the empirical process. Without Transparency, you will be blind. So even you apply Scrum or Kanban, Scrum Board or Kanban Board needs to be easy to see, to update and to have the same understanding for all stakeholders.
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You can use Physical/ Virtual board to visualize and increase the transparency. With me, I love physical board :)

​I used to work with a team where each team member built an individual board and workflow by himself/ herself. Team member A only viewed and saw his/ her tasks, and disconnected with the rest of team. They joined the Daily Scrum likes a status report. Transparency and collaboration are lost. And you can imagine what happened: Nobody had an idea about what the rest of team was doing, how to achieve the Sprint Goal.

First thing I tried to support is making the Sprint Backlog visible by encouraging them to build a single and visible Board where the whole team can see and update. From that, they had the same understanding of their works.


Limiting WIP​

When team works on the same Board, you need to look on how to help them manage these works by creating a "Pull system". Limiting WIP will help you.

Encourage a team who do their work define these Limiting WIP. (Do you know Sprint itself is Limiting WIP because Developer decided to pull the works they forecasted that can be done to achieve the Sprint Goal within time-box?)
"WIP Limit not only helps workflow but can improve the Scrum Team's focus, commitment, and collaboration even further."

Limiting WIP also helps your team focus to complete work first before they pick more, to avoid multitasking, improve collaboration.

E.g. When one team member has done his work, and WIP come to limit. Instead of picking more work, he needs to support other team members to finish their job of first. (collaboration!)

"Multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity, increased stress, and a 10% drop in IQ."

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Have Limiting WIP and show it on board


Active management of work items in progress

If you have a Workflow and Limiting WIP, but it's not managed and updated, it will not work. It likes you have a Sprint Board, but you don't use it. Daily works of your team go through; it has many issues, impediments need to be handled, such as:
  •  Work overlap
  •  Constraints or tasks are blocked and not be communicated and cleared.
  • The work item is old (not updated for a couple of days).

It will make your workflow get stuck. Therefore, let's have the team to manage/ update it. Daily Scrum is one of the great events to support your team to update and manage these works.


Inspecting and adapting their definition of "Workflow" 

We are dealing with complex works, so not only the Transparency but also Inspection and Adaptation are essential.  

Transparent your works by having Definition of Workflow (DoW) to help everybody understand how works are started and how they can be called "Done" (Like DoD). The rule should be displayed, and everybody needs to understand it.

Just likes DoD, DoW is built by Scrum Team. They will own and manage it. It will be changed or updated overtime, when Scrum Team mature or they want to improve it.

The question here is: when DoW should be inspected and adapted? Don't we have a retrospective at the end of the sprint? That's a good chance for the team to look back and improve. Remember you can change DoW anytime, but it should happen in Retrospective. Yes, I say, Should not Must.


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Have DoD and DoW to transparent, inspect and adapt

Last but not least, don't just have a board and limiting WIP. The board needs to be managed and updated. And to inspect and adapt, you need to have some metrics:

  • Work in Progress (WIP)
  • Cycle Time
  • Work Item Age
  • Throughput

Let's go through it in next blog!