New to agile? Do the simplest thing that works – THEN STOP!

As an agile trainer and coach I often see new teams struggle with a simple question: “How much to do on a user story?”  A lot of people say the simplest thing that works is what should be implemented.  I agree with that wholeheartedly and even have a blog entry on how to figure out what the simplest thing is.  Unfortunately, lately I’ve found myself adding a bit to the sentence.

Do the simplest thing that works – THEN STOP!

There are developers who do the simplest thing that works and then keep going because they think the customer will want something more.  While they may be right, it isn’t their decision to make at that point.  Show what the team created at the iteration demo and see if the feedback from the demo says more should be done.  Don’t just assume it!  The extra work costs time and money, not to mention ongoing support costs if it actually goes to production.  The Product Owner needs to take all of this into account when deciding how far to take a story.

Oh, and while we’re on the topic, if you want to know how to have a great demo, read this blog entry.  It has some awesome ideas that all teams should try to follow.  The only thing I would add is to have someone other than a developer or tester be able to try the software during the demo.  Too many horror stories about how things were missed when developers went through demos too fast!

Thanks for reading this.  Until next time I’ll be helping teams in Making Agile a Reality™ by putting up a stop sign when they start trying to gold plate features!

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