Distance != Velocity * Time
C: What should we do to finish this backlog faster? We need this by the end of this month to prevent the catastrophic effect. I will give you more engineers. Let’s focus on finish it as soon as possible.
A: Hmm, thank you, boss, we will do our best.
It was a short conversation between my boss and me some time ago. My boss tried to support the team to finish the backlog soon by adding frontend and backend developers into the team. That time, the naive Monika thought it will work and felt grateful regarding it. Until, two weeks more before the deadline of the development process, we still have many stories untouched. Yeah, we are late for sure.
Experienced that makes me learn my lesson the hard way. Adding manpower to late product development is a myth. In fact, the addition makes it even later. This is because adding additional people to a specific sprint significantly increasing the communication overhead and more people need to communicate in order to ensure they are aligned and aware of what everyone else is doing on the development.
What I find works to accelerate team productivity in order to boost the development process is explaining the product goals, how their work will help the operational team, and how thankful the user for their hard work.
By knowing the essence of their work and believing they are working on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I see far more excellent results. Whether it is making their existing hours more productive, or going the extra mile to hit a deadline, or volunteering to go above and beyond when required, it will all increase team and product success.
But, how to make them absorb this kind of urgency? For me now, the most effective way is by having 1:1 with the developers. After the session, I know how they think and how I should treat them in the development cycle, and vice versa. We become more vulnerable, I am as a PM, and they are as my team, and together we can finish the backlogs for a greater good, right?
In fact, I still look for other methodologies which can be used to boost performance other than 1:1, which takes time. Some of them (developers) suggest documentation, but I am still wondering, what kind of documentation will be read by them? Yes, I know, the documentation is essential to facilitate broader communication with many stakeholders, whether it’s specifications, designs, test plans, error cases, and more. But, until now, I prefer favour ad hoc face-to-face communication between product managers, designers, engineers, testers, and more to quickly resolve questions instead of always jumping to the more expensive documentation as the main communication medium. We do not have such luxury. The face-to-face meeting significantly speeds up discussions and reduces the back-and-forth typically associated with understanding what’s going on. Well, of course, we have to make sure the meeting itself is an efficient one.:)