Multiple Choice:

  1. place-holder-story-scrum-agile-slackA placeholder story is a sign of sloppy planning
  2. All work should be known ahead of time and planned during sprint planning
  3. Yes, this allows the Product Owner to dump things into the sprint as needed.
  4. Sometimes we have a history of unexpected bugs/issues of handle it now. This allows us to track how much of that is showing up and leave some slack for when it does.
  5. We often have work we know we will have to do but, don’t know what it is yet.

Comment: This is a way to track how much unknown work is showing up and manage the amount by triggering a conversation when needed. One of the most common issues for scrum teams is what to do about work that we expect to have to do during a Sprint, but don’t actually know the details about yet, such as bugs we have to fix in existing systems, or expected sales support efforts. Using Place holder stories is a a method to manage these “known unknowns”.

3 Responses to Are Placeholder Stories Ok?

  1. […] enough  to cope with the actual rate of change of requirements.    In fact, Chapter 4.4 on PlaceHolder Stories, the  discussion  of  the  mid-Sprint  Re-planning  in  Chapter  4.8,  and  the […]

  2. andrewmfuqua says:

    No, placeholder stories are not okay. Using and estimating placeholder stories to estimate the unknown is a very bad idea. Velocity is best used for release planning, not sprint planning. If you point work that was unplanned and include it in your velocity, your velocity will be inflated relative to the known work for the release that you need to burn down. This will cause you to overcommit for your next release. Your velocity should reflect planned work only.

  3. andrewmfuqua I disagree on two points here. First, PlaceHolder Stories are planned work; they represent known unknowns. Second, Velocity reflects Done work, not Planned work. In fact, at the Sprint level, the concept of ‘planned work’ is has been tossed out of scrum, to be replaced by ‘forecast work’ – which indicates that we know we don’t know how much work we will actually do.

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