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Analyzing the activity patterns on Work Log

Work Log visualizes the various activities of your team. Knowing which work patterns to avoid and which to aim for helps teams improve their health and development speed.

Identify unhealthy patterns to improve team health and speed

Working alone and siloed work

  • People tend to gravitate to working on their own thing, same features or sometimes get stuck only fixing bugs or reviewing code.
  • Solo work often increases the story cycle time, and a reduction in team learning and knowledge sharing in the long run.
  • Are there individual contributors working only on one kind of thing or issues alone?

Try to avoid having only a single developer working on an issue for an extended period.

Too much reactive work

  • Housekeeping work is important to ensure the team's capability to deliver on roadmap work. But if priorities and focus are unclear, or the team is fighting fires, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds of ad hoc work.
  • If the work log is bottom-heavy with lots of of reactive work (eg. bugs and tasks) try to correct the course by focusing more on high-impact stories and epics.
  • Is there a lot of bugs fixing work, and work that's not linked to any issues?

The first week has poor balance of priorities with lots of work on bugs and tasks.

Multitasking and days without progress

  • We're encouraged to stop starting and start finishing, but something urgent always comes up. Even short disruptions can impair flow, and context switching is expensive.
  • Is the team getting interrupted or working on too many things at the same time? Or has the team a habit of creating larger commits and Pull Requests?

There are several days on this story without any commits (blue dots communicate completed subtasks).

Healthy patterns that signal a well-functioning process

Team collaboration on issues

  • Issues that the team collaborates on are more likely to be completed faster and are usually more fun to work on due to social interaction, knowledge sharing and quicker reviews.
  • Look for stories with a high amount of collaborators, and continuous delivery (commits happening regularly every day).
  • Plan for collaboration (eg. when breaking work to tasks) to increase the odds of collaboration.

This story is an extreme example with as much as eight contributors, and very high throughput.

Increasing focus on the biggest priorities

  • Limiting the amount of work is another way to increase team collaboration, and complete batches of work faster. This helps drive focus that ensures the team can progress their most important priorities.
  • Again, ensure the stories get continuous progress and little to none empty days.
  • Additionally, look for a step pattern. If there is one, the team transitioning well between stories, and taking the time to finish work before jumping on to the next topic. Learn more.

This image shows the team finishing stories before starting new ones.

  • Sometimes it can be easier to analyze the step pattern on the high level work log, where the work is aggregated on the weekly level.

The step pattern is very easily seen during this period.