Agile teams like short iterations because they help to ensure tight feedback cycles in order to reduce waste and minimize uncertainty. However, what if you can’t fit all the work required to implement a product backlog item in a 2 week sprint? For example, with more and more emphasis on design a considerable amount of work might be required for a designer to work with the product owner prior to any development effort investment. A similar question was asked of me during a web cast on Agile adoption: “... it’s a challenge to incorporate integration testing in a short 2-4 week cycle. Any advice?”
Well, in reality sometimes some parts of your team may have to work one or more sprints ahead of your developers (eg. definition and design). In a similar perspective, you may have some parts of your team working a sprint behind your developers (acceptance testing and transition to production for example). I wouldn’t recommend your team starts with this model – rather having the conditions of the project “pull” this practice in appropriately – however, this model seems to be quite common, even though it’s a bit trickier to manage.
I always promote that your team should shoot for “done” within a single sprint – however, when conditions present themselves (when getting everything done forces your sprints to be too long) you might want to consider such a model.
Joel Semeniuk is a Microsoft Regional Director and MVP Microsoft ALM. You can follow him on twitter @JoelSemeniuk.