Back to resources

Prioritizing Urgent Tasks in Scrum

Prioritization
Agile / Scrum

11 June, 2019

Nicolas Tricot
Nicolas Tricot

VP of Engineering at Padok

Nicolas Tricot, Engineering Manager at Back Market, agrees that using Scrum is a comfortable agile methodology to manage a project’s process. However, when it comes to small, day to day tasks that require immediate attention, he admits that process needs a bit more prioritization.

Problem

A project is much like a game in that you know how it should end and how to arrive there. Scrum is perfect for finding that rhythm to achieve your project, until you run into a wrong task or something external that you have to attend to directly. With a live website, like we have for example, you sometimes have projections that need assistance in the moment and can't be delayed.

Actions taken

What we did at the beginning was let everyone know that whatever particularly urgent issue we were facing at the time will now hold priority over anything else: "Prod first"! Thusly, we asked them to stop the current tasks and work on that specific issue before circling back to their original tasks. We tried to establish this introduction into the sprint in order to save bandwidth for the issues that would arise in such a manner. In the case that the work is not being prioritized, it is necessary to let the team know it's not good to break the backlog. So we have to find another way to take this into account. This will help to officialize the time that the team has for a long term project, which has less priority than the tasks that come on a day to day basis. Along with that, each and every day the backlog needs to be refined, letting the team know about the arrival of new tasks, and the need for their prioritization on the top of the backlog. Much more in a Kanban style to be at ease with a backlog change.

Lessons learned

  • At first, we discovered that adding external tasks was quite frustrating, because by the time you reach the end you have a feeling that you didn't achieve your goal and likewise, that your projection is not in good shape.
  • In some context, leaving bandwidth in your sprints for urgent projections works well depending on the amount of work, whereas on other teams, it doesn't work at all because it doesn't become prioritized in the way that it should.
  • Reminding the team about prioritizing small, urgent tasks, will help them not feel guilty about postponing long term tasks. On the other hand, it can be difficult to commit to goals and may therefore become harder for your teams to reach those long term goals because of this adaption.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

How I failed at my startup

14 October

There are nine specific building blocks and functional areas every org/company need to work to launch the product and provide services to customers. How effectively founders tackle them determine the destiny of the company.

Mission / Vision / Charter
Scaling Team
Building A Team
Impact
Strategy
Prioritization
Praveen Cheruvu

Praveen Cheruvu

Senior Software Engineering Manager at Anaplan

Building Up Your Technical Skills in a Fast-Paced Industry

8 July

Otavio Santana, Distinguished Software Engineer at Zup Innovation, shares his best practices for upskilling without stretching yourself too thin.

Different Skillsets
Personal Growth
Prioritization
Otavio Santana

Otavio Santana

Java champion, software engineer, architect, and open-source Contributor at Independent Technical Advisor

Dealing with Uncertainties and Adapting as You Go

14 June

Muhammad Hamada, Engineering Manager at HelloFresh, addresses the uncertainties brought on by the pandemic, how these have affected our work environments, and how we can adapt.

Goal Setting
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Roadmap
Stakeholders
Prioritization
Muhammad Hamada

Muhammad Hamada

Engineering Manager at HelloFresh

How to Successfully Rebuild Your Product

6 June

Adir Nashawi, Senior Product Manager at Hibob, shares his insight and experience from rebuilding a product to handle many feature requests and offerings.

Customers
Product
Dev Processes
Users
Prioritization
Adir Nashawi

Adir Nashawi

Senior Product Manager at Hibob

Checking For Values Alignment When Considering a New Role

3 June

Tommy Morgan, VP Engineering at Crystal Knows, recalls a time in his career when his values didn’t align with his superiors and shares his insights on preventing this outcome when taking on a new role.

Alignment
Company Culture
Psychological Safety
Toxic Atmospheres
Cultural Differences
Prioritization
Health / Stress / Burn-Out
Tommy Morgan

Tommy Morgan

VP Engineering at Crystal Knows