Agile That Works

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Executive Reports for Agile Teams

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What reports should you provide to executives after each sprint?

Transparency is one of the key advantages of using an agile process, but what do you do about transparency for people who aren’t part of the team? What happens when the executives drop by, look at the burndown chart or the scrum board on the wall, and start asking team members questions? What information can you provide people outside the team to let them know what the team is working on without disrupting the team, without inviting micromanagement, and without interrupting your sprint?

Executive Interest is Good

First of all, congratulations on having people outside the team interested in with the team is doing. That’s a big win for any technical organization. Now that you have their attention, one of the great things about agile is that it provides you with a number of artifacts that can be used to explain exactly what the team is working on to anybody, regardless of their background.

Here’s a quick and easy cheat sheet of artifact you can assemble after each sprint, and explanations you could give to people outside the team, to help them understand what you’re working on. (And the best part is, if you’re following your scrum procedures consistently, you should already have everything on hand ready to go.)

Executive Report Cheat Sheet

At minimum, providing these three key pieces of information at the end of every sprint will go a long way toward helping everyone outside the team understand what the team is working on:

1. Working Software

If your team is building complete slices with working software at the end of each sprint, showing the executives exactly what the state of the product is at the end of the sprint is one of the best ways of demonstrating what you’re working on. Even if your company doesn’t release the product after each sprint, working software with new customer-facing features is tangible evidence of what you’ve been producing.

2. Burndown Chart

A properly updated burndown chart shows the progress of all the stories in the last sprint. One of the advantages of the burndown chart is that it goes from top left to bottom right, unlike many business charts that are expected to go from the bottom left to the top right. Once you’ve explained to non-team members how to interpret the chart, it will provide them with a quick overview of the effort the team put in, and what was accomplished.

3. Retrospective Highlights

The detailed notes from a Sprint respective are usually for the team members only, but issues can come up at the sprint retrospective that are worth sharing outside the team. At the end of the sprint, go over your retrospective notes, and collect interesting data points that are worth sharing with the executives. For example, you might want to make a list of the blockers that came up this Sprint, Along with some of the biggest wins, and the greatest learnings from the sprint.

Bonus: Ask What They’re Looking For

The most important thing is to find out what people outside the team are looking for. You may not want to present the exact same information to everybody, but you want to make sure that everybody who relies on the team understands what’s relevant to their area, so they can provide the support the team needs going forward.

Make it a regular practice to compile this information, and provide it directly to the executives and other key players around the company who are most important to the functioning of your team. if you do this on a regular basis, everybody will know what your team is really doing, and they won’t need to interrupt the flow of the working developers in order to find out.

Again, congratulations on having people outside the team interested in what your team is doing! If you found this technique useful in your work, please let me know about your success, and sign up below to be the first to learn the latest agile techniques I publish.