If you’ve been accountable for a technology team or company, you’ll be familiar with certain questions from your customers, business partners and other stakeholders:

  • When is it going to be done?
  • How much is going to cost?
  • Is everyone going to be happy with what we’ve built?

These are hard questions to answer, and the more detail you get into, the more technical and complicated it gets. Putting the team under pressure by setting deadlines doesn’t really work (and certainly not in the long term), but leaving them to work without supervision can lead to slipping deadlines and the impression that ‘it will be done when it’s done’.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach and having a delivery manager with experience of successful projects with similar technology is probably the best bet. We’ll often end up with two week sprints, open measurement of velocity and a team who trust each other, own their mistakes and understand each other’s weaknesses. When combined with a clear, well-refined backlog and a focus on solving the most acute technical risks early, the team will have a good shot at predicting work to a few months out.

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