Top 7 blockers 🧨 in Agile Product Management and how to prevent them
We all know that deadline shifts are associated with blockers in the process. This may be a lost question and the absence of important information from the stakeholder. We talked to 100 managers and identified the top blockers in the agile process and how to deal with them.
Exhausting right? This has been the experience of many teams, a roadblock they are willing to see removed permanently. We talked to 100 managers and identified the top blockers in the agile process and how to deal with them.
What are blockers in the delivery process?
Blockers can be internal and external. External blockers arise from other departments, the client, with the C-level, etc. Internal blockers come from within the team, for example, between developers.
Below are the most common blockers we discovered during our interviews.
1. Delay in the decision from stakeholders - Project development comes with being answerable to one or more people. Stakeholders may have several projects at hand and might delay in giving feedback or answering your questions, therefore, creating a delay in your workflow. Also, there’s a chance of being of such messages being forgotten or even received in their spam folders and never read by them. This becomes major friction to having the products developed on time. The solution:
follow up constantly
Send questions in bulk in advance
Simplify questions by giving options and your own solution to the question.
2. Unanswered comment/ lost question - Developers often write questions in the comments to the ticket in Jira, the question may get lost both in your spam and between developers. Plus looking for questions is always wasting time and annoying. As a result, the ticket may be blocked for several days. The solution:
Set up with SQL queries in Jira
if the question blocks, move it to the blocked column on the board
Use a plugin to notify about comments in slack. PingMi does a great job at finding blockers, highlight them in tasks, sends daily reports, and saves you time spent on manual tracking
Find all Unanswered comments in your Jira!
And get everyday reports with them
3. Lack of focus on priority: Often developers take on tasks that they like more and not those that are in priority. Expending your energy to the “good to have” and not the “must have” projects will hurt your product development. This is a blocker that gets overlooked a lot because it hides under “ things devs love to do”. The solution:
Set priority in tasks in Jira
Monitor on meetings developers to take into work in descending order of priority
Check on the board what tasks are in the work.
4. Ping-pong / Long QA/PR: the task can be done within the expected timeframe, but there may be a lot of necessary edits at the review and QA stage and the task starts jumping from the “IN QA” to the “TO DO” and back (this may not always be clear from the board). The solution:
Build filters and display the dashboard: analyze the history of the task.
Agree with the team that if the process takes more than 2 days, then ping the manager
5. Lots of work in progress: often, questions sent out by developers get ignored or receive answers late. While the developer is waiting for an answer, they take on a new task which would late on affect the dedication to the previous project. The solution:
Make sure that the developer has no more than four (4) tasks in progress. Have an agreement not to take new tasks until the current ones go to review.
Agree with devs to signal to the manager that there is something that prevents the task from being completed.
6. Poor or unclear description: it is not always clear whether there is enough information in the ticket for the developer to understand everything. An unclear description of the task can lead to a bunch of questions or the developer will do the wrong thing (the reason is the other blockers). The solution:
Create a single format for describing the task or a template before the start of the sprint.
Go through the tickets and check that everything is clear
Ask questions where needed
7. No estimation: It’s important to estimate the time and resources needed for each project from the onset. In some teams, it's ok not to but if it's critical for you, then here's what you can do. The solution:
Evaluate tasks when they are in the backlog, do not take an unestimated task into the sprint.
Use poker planning on calls or a plugin in the Jira,
Set a checklist to check that all fields are exposed before the sprint started
Track blockers take lots of communication and Excel work. Developers don't pay attention to notifications of Jira and waste updates on blockers. It can take up to 5 hours per week to track blockers and update their status - too much manual work.
To automate that process and prevent blockers we create a simple plugin. PingMi plugin will find the blockers based on 7 signals, highlight them in tasks and send daily reports in Slack or Email.