You have probably seen them when you entered a team room. Scrum boards with well defined stories and nice task descriptions under them. But then there are so many lanes… Many tasks are in one of the lanes, but only a few are in the ‘Done’ lane. I’ve seen lane names like ‘peer review’ ‘testing’, ‘investingating’ and ‘blocking’. When i ask the team about the specific use of the lanes, the answers mostly boil down to handoff.
For example, when i asked for the use of the ‘blocking lane’, a team member told me that whenever he had to call someone to discuss an item, and that person wasn’t available, he would hang the task in the ‘blocking’ lane. And then he started with another task. When i asked him when he then would resume the old task, he said that the would try again after het finished his ‘new’ task. Sometimes the person to contact wasn’t available the second time, and then the task would wait for another cycle.
Handoff was also created in the ‘peer review’ lane. Whenever a team member was ready with his or her’s code, they would move the task to ‘peer review’. Those tasks stayed in that line for almost the entire sprint. You want to know when the peer review was done?… Indeed. At the very end of the sprint. Sometimes bugs where found, or refactoring had to be done, and there was stress. This stress also applied for testing. There was a separate ‘testing’ lane. Testing tasks where mostly done by one tester, and… at the end of every sprint.
So sometimes these extra lanes keep the team from getting stories done. There is ‘handoff’ in the team itself. If a team member starts a task, he should never let go of that task until it is finished. Every lane that releases the task from the responsibility of the team member is handoff, and will delay the execution of the task. Yes, i acknowledge the fact that sometimes it will include a lot of effort for the team to remove an impediment. But the focus should be on delivering the task as fast as possible. Starting another task without finishing your previous one, is ‘local optimalization’.
Introducing lanes is not bad by default. (After all, the team can decide to introduce lanes). But if a team introduces a new lane, it has to agree on keeping in touch with the task.
So be aware of those extra lanes.