Day 37 – Failure Demand

So we have a bunch of indicators suggested from our senior leadership team as measures for a program health check.  One of these is something we’re calling “Failure Demand”.

Over the last couple of iterations, we’ve got a first glimpse at this – we know it’s one of the trends we wanted to track, so we started with a simple question to each of our teams:

“How much time (as a %) did your team spend on non-feature work this iteration?”

We asked the teams to keep a track on a day-to-day basis and prompted them with a reminder at the end of the iteration.  Our first check ended up with a range from 20-60% of people’s time spent on work outside the agreed, valuable feature set they’d been issued e.g.:

  • Defects in existing code that needed to be fixed.
  • Maintenance work on our platforms.
  • Faults diagnosis / 2nd-3rd tier operations support for our platforms.
  • Answering ad-hoc requests from people who kept our email addresses over the years and know who to call to get a problem fixed.
  • Trading out a team member – in some cases we have SMEs that we still need to loan to another team, but they won’t contribute to their team’s goal, so we can calculate them as a % on non-feature work for that team (imperfect yes, but it highlights a “failure” of us to cross skill, or ensure features are discrete enough that any team can work on them independent of other teams).
  • Work in the communities of practice / presentations / brown bag sessions / training courses (not failure demand really, maybe something else, but we don’t know how to track it yet).

Then today I thought maybe we could get a bit more visual than simply displaying the average in a bar graph… and I remembered these box and whisker diagrams from high school.  A few more searches and we had a template to build a box plot in Excel.

So here’s our first chart.

We want this graph to converge over time and trend downwards, i.e. trend towards 0% for most teams.

And here’s the box plot template for failure demand if anyone wants it.

  1. Gary said:

    Next question, how many of the features are failure demand….

    • Good question. Acknowledged, we still have some refining to do on our definition 🙂

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