Leftover Work in Scrum

I recently received an email from someone who had taken one of my Scrum courses on Pluralsight. He asked:

  1. For the next Sprint, how is this unfinished User Story/Documentation task handled and is the User Story re-estimated for its remainder to arrive at Story Points?
  2. If the User Story is not considered for Sprint 1 Velocity given that it is not complete, and if its considered entirely in the second sprint when complete, this will skew the Velocity. As organizations love to measure Velocity and would like this to be fairly consistent, it does not help. Wouldn’t it help to have the story points prorated for Velocity discussions? If Documentation would have taken 2 % (we can use task estimations in hours to find out the relative contribution), we can consider 98% of the story points for velocity. What do you think?


This was my reply to this poor soul who is clearly being beaten down by a manager or someone else who doesn’t understand what this whole velocity thing is all about.

I do not advocate for re-estimating the work. Just leave it on the board and let it finish, taking the Story Points in the next Sprint. It will all come out in the wash. Just try to limit this by learning to plan better to your team’s capacity.
Trying to arrive at a consistent velocity is a dysfunction. Take the averages and don’t work about Sprints being consistent. What happens when people go on vacation, become sick, etc.? Velocity is a historical record and lagging indicator. It is a poor predictor as a leading indicator because of the reality of life.
I hope this makes sense. In short: Don’t let the process beat you to death. Let it flow and don’t worry so much about perfection 🙂

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David Starr

David Starr is Director of Technical Learning at GoDaddy. He is a professional software craftsman committed to improving agility, collaboration, and technical excellence in software development teams. He is the founder of Elegant Code Solutions, has served in numerous leadership contexts, and was as an early and consistent advocate for agile software development. He has successfully led product development initiatives and organizational transitions in numerous positions including Chief Software Craftsman at Scrum.org, Sr. Program Manager for Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server at Microsoft, Chief Software Architect, Director of Product Development, Pluralsight Author, independent consultant, and trainer. David’s professional focus is on all aspects of developing, delivering, and operating software systems. With specific attention on the end-to-end process, methods, and practices of high performing development teams, his skills transcend specific technology stacks, although he has has a specific skills focusing on the Microsoft stack. He speaks at various international conferences, is a frequent guest on various podcasts, author of articles throughout the technology industry, and the founder of Elegant Code Solutions. He is a 5 time Microsoft MVP in Visual Studio ALM.

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