Thursday, December 12, 2013

Kanban: Prioritization, Estimation, Classes of Service, Severity, Priority Number and Technology debt

The blue book is a gem for Software Project Managers. For many years after reading the Bible of Software Engineering I did not find a concise explanation that would give me hope on the possible existence after all of a Silver Bullet for Project Management but I have found in David J. Anderson's book a great must-read-first for those still looking for it.
Prioritization and estimation are important and at the same wasteful activities. At the core of a good decision is a proper triage system.
Every software issue should have a class of service (COS) to make sure its high level priority is understood and that the proper SLA is applied.
IMO they are not to be confused with severity which is an important classification for Standard and Intangible COS or priority number which allows to further qualify tickets within severity.
COS and teams are orthogonal. Let us analyze an example to clarify how technology support tickets can have any COS.
Technology tickets are *not* always intangible. Technology debt can be a huge problem if the tickets are not properly prioritized. As technology leaders we need to make sure we explain these important concepts to the stakeholders. Classes of Services are completely orthogonal to teams.

Expedite Class Of Service

Consider a bug in SSL like Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) which might result in a violation of Massachusetts and California Privacy Laws. Resolving this vulnerability in your web server must be considered probably an Expedite class issue.

Fixed Delivery Date Class Of Service

Let's supposed you have received an alert about the need to put another server in the cluster as capacity has gone over the imposed threshold and in less than a week the cluster will most likely become unresponsive. This case will be considered a Fixed Delivery Date class issue.

Standard Class Of Service

Your calendar has reminded you about the need to upgrade to the newest long term supported Operating System before the current one gets out of support in a year from now. This is to be considered a Standard class issue which could escalate to Fixed Delivery Date or even Expedite but at the moment we are plenty of time to get it done.

Intangible Class Of Service

There is a request for a devops script responsible for a server clone to go faster. This will be Intangible class unless demonstrated that it will save hours of development work in which case it might become Standard.

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