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Forecasting

Dictionary meaning of forecast is to estimate or calculate in advance, especially to predict by analysis of previous data. This is much closer to how an experienced Scrum Team works, where everybody knows that the initially crafted Sprint Backlog and thus, the associated list of Product Backlog Items is subject to change, as more becomes known throughout the Sprint.

Continuous collaboration between the Development Team and the Product Owner leads to renegotiation of the scope of the Sprint Backlog during the Sprint. When a commitment is broken or not fulfilled, it is usual to expect some sort of accountability, fault or even compensation.  When a forecast doesn’t come true, it is easier to think about matters such as learning from the experience, improvement and in one word - empiricism, which at the end is what Scrum is about. Hence, becomes a responsibility shared with all team members - programmers, testers, analysts, project managers but owned by the Product Owner.

Prioritizing Themes

Software development team has a stack of prioritized and estimated requirements, which need to be addressed (Scrum calls this prioritized stack a "product backlog"). New requirements are prioritized by your project stakeholders and added to the stack in the appropriate place. Fundamentally a single person needs to be the final authority when it comes to requirement prioritization.  Each iteration (a "sprint" in Scrum terminology) your team pulls an iteration's worth of work off the top of the stack and commits to implementing it by the end of the iteration. Your project stakeholders have the right to define new requirements, change their minds about existing requirements and even reprioritize requirements as they see fit.

Stakeholders are responsible for making decisions and providing information in a timely manner. On some projects a business analyst, often in the role of product owner, may take on this responsibility. Whoever is in this role will need to work together with the other stakeholders to ensure everyone is represented fairly, often a difficult task. The priorities of non-requirement work items are either negotiated by the team with stakeholders or are addressed as a part of the slack time within the schedule.  Many Scrum teams are now putting more than just requirements, such as defects, on their backlogs.

Factors in Prioritization

Basic approach used to prioritize backlog is: We first decide what values (or benefits) we want to achieve before launching a project or product. Then we find and improve the business processes that delivers that value. When the team needs user stories, we take the highest value processes and break them down into user stories at the right level of granularity for the team’s needs. The team pulls the stories, so we only generate a minimal set of user stories.

Factors that help prioritization are:

Q. How close is this feature to the target market?

Q. How much effort will this feature take to complete?

Q. How much is the cost of developing?

Q. How much organizational impact or risk these features have?

In this instance, organizational impact means the feature will make the company more attractive to potential investors.

Four Quadrants of Risk Value Relationship

Strategic commodities are characterized by complex specifications, few qualified supply sources and typically large individual expenditures.  The quality of these products/services is critical.  These commodities tend to be highly important to profitability and operations. Bottleneck commodities have characteristics that include complex specifications requiring complex manufacturing or service processes, few alternate products available and few qualified sources of supply. These commodities may impact ongoing operations maintenance or may involve new technology or untested processes.

Leverage commodities include high expenditure levels, many alternative products/services, numerous suppliers and readily available sources of supply. Routine commodities include many existing alternate products/services, many sources of supply, relatively low value items, and many small individual transactions that are easily purchased. These commodities are often items of everyday use.



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