Agile release planning with multiple projects

One of the biggest challenges we faced when we started down the Agile path was how to accommodate working on multiple projects concurrently. This is a little insight into how we are currently managing ourselves across two projects plus business as usual tasks.

The Agile ideal

Most Agile/XP/Scrum literature assumes a single, cross-functional team working on a single project for a single customer using a narrow range of technical disciplines. The primary reason for this is that task-switching is really expensive: it is much more efficient to remain focused on one project.

That way of working, though attractive, is more or less impossible in our situation; something that I’ve also heard from other university digital teams. We don’t just work on projects, we have business as usual commitments (which include meetings, support calls, personal development, blogging, editorial calendar updates, etc.), consultancy (where we work on approved institutional-priority projects managed by other teams) and portfolio mechanics (board meetings and related admin, writing up project ideas and terms of reference documents, etc.).

After all that excitement has been deducted from our working week, we are generally left with only about 40% of our time to dedicate to pushing projects towards completion. We therefore need to be careful to extract as much value as we can.

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