Kanban Q & A with VersionOne references

With so many teams attempting to try out Kanban for the first time, I receive tons of questions.Here are a few of the questions I’ve received and the answers I gave at the time.  Keep in mind that as my knowledge of Kanban grows and changes, so do my answers so keep in mind these were from earlier this summer.


1) what Story Points scale have you found useful with your teams?
  • we are considering using 1,2,3,5,8 with “8” representing the largest size of work (basically high unknowns, probably “XL”) but wondering if this provides a broad enough range of buckets
  • also interested to know if teams have found that stories larger than perhaps the first 3 buckets, need to be decomposed further before going onto the board


The numbers a team uses for story points doesn’t really matter since they mean something unique to each team and should not be compared across teams. Just pick a set the team agrees to represent sizes relative to other stories. A “5” for one team does not mean the same story for another team should be a “5” and the choice of the numbering should be made by the team not management.

As teams estimates become more stable, they will see more clustering of cycle time metrics. This is true whether they are done by hand or through VersionOne. Teams should just annotate their metrics where significant changes are observed in the metrics to offer explanation and give themselves a documented memory of changes they made and the impact those changes made to their flow of work through metrics. 

We discussed a few of these scenarios at the last Agile Project Leads meeting and we’ll be doing another session on it again at the next one. 
Oh and we NEVER change estimates for completed work. It’s considered “waste”, in agile, since we consider those instances where we estimated incorrectly a learning opportunity and a case where annotating our metrics will show WHEN we began changing the way we estimate and what impact it made to our flow, and by annotating changes we can see how long we tried something before we made another change. This can be especially helpful when teams realize they aren’t making progress because they didn’t give the “change” enough time to work before trying something else. Making changes too often, too frequent or just too many can be disruptive enough to keep flow from stabilizing which prevents the team from becoming predictable. 

  • If these stories are left open until next week what does that do to our burn down and other metric reporting in Version One?
  • Should we move the stories to the next sprint or put that them back on the back log?
  • Can a team continue to work on stories and tasks after a sprint is closed during the grooming week? 


  • Move all stories that will not be completed by Friday/tomorrow to the next sprint
  • Close the current sprint tomorrow – this will also track the REAL velocity of what was actually completed from the original committed plan
  • Then next week while most of the team should be scheduled for quarterly grooming sessions all week, others not involved may get a jump start on the next sprint’s stories.Remember that on Monday the 11th when the team does Sprint Planning, they will need to RESIZE the stories that were not completed this week and moved to Sprint 3.1 so that the size represents the size of the remaining work only.  This will also give a better picture of velocity at the end of sprint 3.1.

Share your ideas, comments and links!

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