Agile Estimating and Planning - The Factory Model

Episode 120 - 01 Apr 2018


  • Factory by Creative Stall from the Noun Project
  • Pointing hand by Denis Sazhin from the Noun Project

Agile estimating and planning.

Today we’ll be talking about Amazon

And a factory.

My name is Gary Straughan

Welcome to Development That Pays.

And welcome back to this mini series on Agile estimating and planning.

If you missed a previous episode and would to catch up

this link will take you right back to the beginning

and deliver you auto-magically back to this point.

Let's get straight to it.

Lego people, could you take your places please

Thank you.

This person needs and answer to this question.

“When will it be ready?”

This person seems to be best-placed to answer the question

But from what we learned about the Planning Fallacy

Last time

He - or she - is highly likely to get the answer wrong.

We seem to be in a Catch-22 situation.

This picture I’ve painted is flawed.

In several ways.

Starting with the question:

“When will it be ready?”

It that a reasonable question to ask?

Let me be more specific:

Is ot a reasonable question to ask in an Agile environment?

Is it as reasonable as asking, “when will my Amazon order arrive?

I’ll give you a moment to think about that one.

No! It’s not the same at all!

Your Amazon order is the gazillionth that Amazon has handled!

As processes go, it’s very well understood.

Amazon can tell you the day of delivery with a high degree of accuracy.

Because they’re delivered a package like yours to an address like yours

a million times.

The situation here is very different.

A software development team spends much of its time

working on things that haven’t been done before.

Or, at the very least, things that it hasn’t done before.

Every day is an adventure into the unknown.

A mental model that I find helpful

is to think of the development process as happening

inside an imaginary a factory.

This factory is the development team’s domain.

Others enter by invitation only.

You as a the boss

and you as the Product Owner.

have a restricted view of what goes on inside the factory.

That’s the bad news.

But you have an unobstructed view of what goes in

And what comes out.

Not only that, But you have a strong influence on what goes into the factory.

But once work begins, it’s out of your hands.

You need to trust that the development team will do its best.

the development team wants to do its best.

If the team needs help, it will ask.

Other than that, it’s your job to to resist the temptation

to do anything that might hamper its efforts.

Like asking unhelpful questions

Such as “When will it be ready?”

So yes, a factory with inputs and outputs.

The factory itself is an estimation-free-zone.

But agile Estimating fans, never fear: There are no shortage of estimating possibilities on the input side There are even some on the output side.

It’ll be an episode or three before our journey takes brings us to the output side

But the input side: that’s where we’re heading next.

At the beginning of the very next episode.

In the meantime, I’d love to know what you think of my ‘factory” model?

Good? Bad? Evil?

Let me know in the comments below.

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I very much look forward to seeing you next time.