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PMP Q #21- Iteration Completion

Q21. On the last day of an iteration, an agile team has three out of seven items at 90% completion, team estimate it will take just one more day to finish these three items, and they can achieve 100% of the iteration goal.
How should the project manager deal with this situation?

A. Extend the iteration by one day.
B. Seek advice from stakeholders.
C. Recommend closing the iteration with current completion.
D. Start the next iteration as per schedule without closing the current.

This question is based on the concept of iteration timeboxing. Let’s see What a timebox is in a sprint or iteration? How long is a typical sprint timebox? 

Every iteration has a fixed timebox, the maximum allotted time for an iteration. The team agrees on this iteration timebox –  It is usually two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, or a month and is expected to stay the same from one iteration to another. The team chooses what works best for them. 

As a best practice, the team must close iteration formally as soon as the timebox reaches. Let’s discuss why it is the best practice to do so:

  • A fixed duration timebox helps the team keep the rhythm and aligns team efforts to bring a sense of urgency to complete work items before iteration ends.
  •  It also helps the team reflect on how they can improve in further iterations. A fixed timebox gives a rhythm to doing the work and reflecting continuously after the end of each iteration.
  • It also sets the expectation with relevant stakeholders that they must meet for the iteration review as the iteration timebox reaches. If this timebox keeps changing, it may create chaos in handling stakeholders’ availability for the iteration review.

After looking at the concept of timeboxing, option B is the best. That says –  “Recommend closing the iteration with current completion.” 

You might have used all the above four options in different situations. But option C is recommended as the best practice. 

 Let’s look at all other options to discuss what kind of issue they can create –

Option A – “Extend the iteration by one day.” – it may look attractive as you only need one day that can fix up all the issues. But then you are violating the basic fundamental principle of timeboxing. If you start doing it once, you might keep doing it more and more frequently. Many times team may end up using more days than anticipated. You will only come to know that you need more time once that anticipated one day is passed. So here you are, inviting complexity by playing with the boundaries of the timebox.  

Option B – “Seek advice from stakeholders” – Continuing or stopping iteration is a process-related decision, and you are the process owner. And it is not advisable to involve stakeholders unnecessarily.  

Option D – “Start the next iteration as per the schedule without closing the current” –  In the real world, many professionals do it. Still, having two iterations running without closing the previous iteration is not a good idea. Reason is –

  • Running two iterations may confuse team members as some work in the previous iteration, and some move to the next iteration. 
  •  It is difficult to predict the effort invested in the next iteration.   
  • It confuses the whole process and hampers data collection like –
    • The velocity of each iteration, 
    • Stakeholder engagement at the iteration boundaries, i.e. iteration reviews,  
    • The number of Iteration retrospectives you have done after each iteration?

So, all those things start getting confused when you start taking this workaround. It makes the whole process complicated. 

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