We are using Kanban for product development. It works great. As a Product Owner I can re-prioritize backlog anytime and put things into Planned state when I want to. It works. But. Every Product Owner is passionate about the product. He wants to improve so many things and do that RIGHT NOW. Prioritization is really hard and Planned state has a strong tendency for saturation and overflow. For example, our Planned state has limit of 20 items. In the worst case there were 50 items in it (most of them are bugs and small enhancements). Mea Culpa.
The obvious side effect is that most items are buried in Planned state for weeks. A more important user story pops out and a small enhancement moves down. As a result, enhancements and bugs were never fixed/implemented. Planned column turned into Backlog column someday. That was a real problem. Yes, bugs were small and quite easy to fix, but more important problems constantly pushed them back.
We got tired of this and decided to try a new practice: The Ultimate Clean Up Day. The rules are quite simple:
- From the start of the workday everybody who can do programming (including CEO 🙂 take any bug/small story from Planned state and fix it. Repeat till the end of the day.
- Someone suggested to draw a star on the whiteboard for each fixed bug and find out who is the best bug fixer.
- Testers verify fixed bugs as soon as possible and cooperate with developers to ensure the fix. Repeat till the end of the day.
We were afraid that the clean up day will take longer than 1 day due to re-opened bugs and so on, but this did not happen. It was a very focused activity resulting in 23 fixed bugs in a single day. It was fun and development team decided to do this monthly. Next clean up day will be in the middle of December and I will re-fresh my .NET skills again 🙂