Make Work Visible

March 9, 2010

A significant portion of your activities aren’t visible to your management, possibly because

  • you have become the “product expert” which consults with others or
  • your products’ production deployments require significant developer attention

Therefore,

Divide your whiteboard up into columns representing your work flow (e.g. “Backlog,” “Ready”, “Develop”, “QA”, “Done”) and obtain a large supply of Post-It(tm) notes. Use separate colors for the items assigned to you by your management and the items which come to you as the domain expert. If necessary, track enough information to build a cumulative flow diagram.

Discussion

There is something visceral about this approach that conveys understanding in a way which is not possible by explanation or discussion. It may be the case that your management knows what is happening but doesn’t quite “get it.”

This is a minimum useful subset of software kanban and an instance of “Information Radiator.”

A cumulative flow diagram can be created by simply counting the number of tickets in each bucket each morning and entering these into a spreadsheet in backwards order. You can read your average work-in-process (WIP) and cycle time from this diagram, making it an incredibly inexpensive way to measure the amount of effort spent on visible work versus other work.

Observed Instances

One

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Tags: fixme patterns