In many projects, there’s a need to do some ground clearing before we can actually start doing the value work for the client. We may have to:
- do research on competent suppliers
- get their quotes
- install equipment before we can actually start working
- get the Team together …
Some projects will even never be more than just an approved plan. Think of the work of a team of architects -or urban planners-, who need to make a design and show it to their client. After which it may or may not be built.
How do we go about scheduling this kind of -largely preparatory- work?
From the Lean and Agile Project Management philosophy, our first inclination might be to add all Tasks to the User Stories to which they seem to belong. The problem with that approach is twofold:
- The preparatory work is normally done for many different User Stories at once
- The preparatory work and the value work together, would take quite long to be accomplished, which is contrary to the ideal of frequent deliveries.
Therefor, in Lean and Agile Project Management, we suggest to split a Story (or Epic) into smaller Stories. By definition a User Story shall be completed within an Iteration. And since we suggest to iterate weekly or bi-weekly, a User Story typically is an amount of work which the Team should be able to complete within one or two weeks.
Therefor, it is good practice to write User Stories for all prep work too.
As a Constructor I want to know the specifications of all materials to be used, in order to know what equipment to book for the construction period.
In fact, defining the specific user in a User Story, allows us to write some Stories specifically for a next person in the value stream. Instead of writing stuff from the end user perspective only. It’s one of the reasons why Lean and Agile Project Management is particularly powerful.