Remote Work Tools

  • Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)

  • Weighted Shortest Experiment First (WSEF)

  • Diffusion of Innovation Theory

  • Market Positioning

Techniques

  • Execution order for tasks directly drives success and value in an organization.

  • Economic value has several forms; compare and prioritize all of them.

    • Some work generates potential income.

    • Some work assists or enables other work.

    • Some work adds organizational knowledge and inspires innovation.

  • Compare potential value against the costs - against the tools and materials needed to complete the work, or the lost value of work not completed. 

    • WARNING: Don’t factor in “sunk costs” - expenses already spent - only potential future expenses; but DO factor whether existing tools can help you avoid future expenses. 

  • Time spent is a cost; the longer an item takes to complete can potentially decrease its value.

    • CAUTION: Teams often account for contractor time, but forget about internal staff time.

  • Avoid distractions from work that is urgent but not valuable.

    • TIP: Also differentiate between learning that is “cool” or trendy but does not enable other work.

Guidance

P2.1 Economic Prioritization

Remote Work Tools

  • Roadmapping

  • Release Planning

Techniques

  • When your work is an impediment to other people, they need a timeline to plan their own work.

    • CAUTION: “No estimates” doesn’t mean “no schedule”.

  • Share your prioritized list of future work with your extended team, but also be clear which decisions are commitments vs subject to change.

  • Team members like Marketing, Sales, and Strategic Planning often need up to 3 months lead time (or more) for effective interactions with potential customers.

    • TIP: Ask them regularly (semi-weekly or monthly) what they need and when; required lead time may also change with the type of features involved.

  • To save yourself time from interruptions, make long-range plans always available instead of on-request, and clearly mark committed items vs those subject to change.

  • Show progress meters for long-range plans, especially which have not started, which are in progress, and the percentage of completion; this helps extended team members assess probability of completion, especially for work that is subject to change.

Guidance

P2.3 Long-Range Planning

Remote Work Tools

  • Big Room Planning

  • Program Increment (PI) Planning

  • Dependency Boards

  • Program Alignment Walls (PAW)

  • Gantt Charts

Techniques

  • Few things can be done without input from your extended team and other stakeholders. To prevent impediments and delays, identify who will be affected and who needs to be involved in each work item, early and often. 

  • Schedule your interactions with affected and involved parties collaboratively, before work begins, so that everyone is clear on goals, timelines, and responsibilities.

    • TIP: To prevent conflicts, every item should be assigned to a single point of contact who can tell you the current status of their assigned items; everyone working on that item should relay updates to that point of contact promptly.

  • Identify and track any dependencies between pieces of work, especially if the dependencies are between teams, or one is an impediment to another. 

    • TIP: Often dependencies don’t need to be impediments; sometimes taking a different perspective will reveal ways to work in parallel and integrate later.

  • Display your dependency plan in a central location that is always accessible to all teams, and update frequently, especially if a change will affect a dependency, or the overall timeline.

Guidance

P2.4 Collaborative Dependency Planning

Remote Work Tools

  • Dependency Boards

  • Program Alignment Walls

  • SAFe Inspect & Adapt Workshop

  • Iteration Demos

  • Sprint Reviews

  • Showcases

Techniques

  • When your work is an impediment to other people, they need a timeline to plan their own work.

    • CAUTION: “No estimates” doesn’t mean “no schedule”.

  • Despite any amount of planning, things never go as planned; that’s life, and why Agile exists. Since change is inevitable, it’s important to communicate change. 

  • We set goals for our work and analyzing the contrast between those goals and reality helps us craft better future decisions. Stakeholder reporting is much more about learning from both successes and failures and continuously building a better plan, than about whether you achieved the goal. 

  • Display your learnings in a central location that is always accessible to strategists, and update frequently; show your work, just like in school.

  • Sometimes it’s more important to keep a history of the decisions not made, so that we don’t waste time rehashing old debates, and for clarity when onboarding new team members.

    • “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” - George Santayana

Guidance

P2.5 Stakeholder Reporting

Remote Work Tools

  • Burndown Charts

  • Burnup Charts

  • Cumulative Flow Diagrams

  • User Story Velocity

  • Predictability of Velocity

Techniques

  • When your work is an impediment to other people, they need a timeline to plan their own work.

    • CAUTION: “No estimates” doesn’t mean “no schedule”.

  • Comparing the relative size between tasks increases timeline accuracy in the short run; an accurate total number of tasks increases timeline accuracy in the long run; collect data on both.

    • CAUTION: Balance the time spent estimating and the value of the estimates; the amount of time spent estimating also counts as work time.

    • TIP: One of the best ways to estimate the total number of tasks is through Feature Mapping.

  • Data on time spent should ideally be collected on a daily basis; our memory is consistently and statistically inaccurate at recalling time spent.

  • Minimize changes in priority and interruptions; changes in priority reduce the value of timelines.

  • TIP: Reporting time also counts as work time; minimize the time spent on reporting through automation.

    • Automated, always-available, on-demand reporting can reduce interruptions.

    • Getting teams into habits of fast, daily data updates makes automated reporting much easier.

Guidance

P2.2 Data-Driven Forecasting

  • Confusion

  • Disgruntled Employees

  • Impediments & Delays

  • Lack of Communication

  • Late-breaking Requirements

  • Low Output

  • Rework

  • Siloed “Not My Job” Thinking

  • Unhappy Stakeholders

Problems Experienced Without These Practices

Planning

Product

P2.