Agile Software DevelopmentAgile Thinking

Why You Must Reassess Incomplete Product Backlogs

You might have a team full of high performers, but not all days’ productivity is the same. You will have some incomplete product backlogs after a sprint cycle ends. Some tasks will be nearly done, but you cannot consider them as complete. So, should you re-estimate the incomplete items? Yes, you must. In this article at Mountain Goat Software, Mike Cohn shares how you can re-estimate incomplete product backlogs.

Reassessing Incomplete Product Backlogs

Partial Credits

Do you provide story points if work is half complete? Cohn suggests providing points for velocity only when the tasks are completely done. They might be 90 percent done. But unless the team members work on the next 10 percent, they might not learn that they are not halfway through it. Team members might have completed 40 percent and would claim to have finished 50 percent. This deceptive inflated velocity would be problematic to achieve the task in the given time.

Benefits of No Partial Credits

  • The team members will insist on having smaller backlogs instead of large, vague ones.
  • Since they cannot get partial credit for incomplete product backlogs, they will look for smaller sprints to earn points and complete tasks.

Reasons to Re-estimate

By the time you are left with the incomplete product backlog items, the size has grown to convert them into a complete sprint. However, since the team has worked on parts of the backlog, the sprint will be done faster. Additionally, they must replan the leftover items to complete the tasks in one sprint before moving to the next. This time, focus more on the average velocity of the sprints you have done before rather than the real velocity to provide full credits to the team. Keep in mind that you can add the incomplete product backlog items back to the sprint if they could finish it in the successive one or two iterations.

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