Mar 28th, 2024

Best Practices

It Always Starts with a Plan

  Written by: Shane Oswald, Chief Operating Officer

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Execution is a big part of what we do. During my time at Clientek, our teams have executed thousands of sprints across hundreds of projects. Execution can’t exist without having a plan first. In the absence of a plan, how would one know if they are executing successfully? Are they on track? Are they close to being done? Without a plan, execution is regulated merely by activity; is a person busy or not?

Planning is probably the most important piece that we bring to any software development project. Before a single line of code is written, we develop a plan for what needs to be completed and document the steps (along with estimated duration) that will be taken to complete the work. The most common example of such a plan is created at the beginning of any of our sprints and is something that we refer to as a sprint timeline. The sprint timeline allows the entire team, including our customers, to know the plan for each day of the sprint, and it clearly indicates how we are tracking against it.

One of the common challenges with execution is that plans often change. Our plans take into account all the information we know at a given time. If new information is learned, and it causes the plan to change, we update the plan and immediately start executing against it. The previous plan now becomes obsolete. This occurrence of “change” can discourage a team from planning. I’ve heard before the comment, “Why do we have to plan? It’s just going to change anyway.” The plan is the one artifact that allows people to understand the impact of changes when they occur.

We monitor our execution on a sprint-by-sprint basis for every project, and we record these metrics to see how we are performing over time. Each sprint starts with a plan. When we get to the end of the sprint, we measure if our execution to that plan was successful. Then we identify areas for improvement. We’ve gotten pretty good at execution over the years since we’ve had a lot of practice, but it always starts with a plan.