Mastering Dependency Management: Effective Techniques for Scrum Teams

Over 80% of project delays in Agile environments can be attributed to poorly managed dependencies, highlighting the critical importance of mastering this aspect of project management. In this post we are diving into a challenge that many Scrum teams find tricky: dependency management. Dependency management remains a challenge for many Scrum teams, particularly when dealing with external dependencies like third-party services or APIs. However, armed with the right strategies and leveraging tools like Azure DevOps and Jira, you can navigate this complex terrain with confidence. Let’s delve into some agile best practices for effective dependency management:

Identify Early, Identify Often

Begin by proactively identifying dependencies during sprint planning or backlog grooming sessions. With Jira or Azure DevOps, integrate dependency tracking directly into your project backlog, ensuring visibility from the outset. If you are planning sprints 8 – 12 weeks ahead in alignment with the scaled agile framework (SAFe), consider using a program board (e.g., @Scale for Azure DevOps) to visualize feature dependencies in the Planning Interval (PI).

Communication is Key

Forge open channels of communication with stakeholders, Product Owners, and external teams. Utilize features like Jira Dashboards or Azure DevOps Dashboards to share updates, track dependencies, and address concerns promptly.

Build Contingencies into Your Plan

Anticipate potential delays or failures by incorporating contingencies into your sprint plans. Both Jira and Azure DevOps allow for customization of issue types and fields, enabling you to specify due dates and alternative solutions for dependencies.

Continuously Improve Dependency Management

Embrace the adaptive nature of Scrum and be prepared to pivot when faced with unexpected challenges. Leverage retrospectives to reflect on dependency management strategies and iterate for improvement using insights from Jira or Azure DevOps.

Automate Where Possible

Streamline dependency management processes with automation tools available in Jira and Azure DevOps. Automate dependency checks, integration pipelines, and monitoring systems to reduce manual effort and enhance efficiency.

Establish Clear Ownership

Define clear ownership for each dependency to ensure accountability within your team. Utilize custom fields and workflows in Jira or Azure DevOps to designate responsibility and facilitate collaboration.

Stay Informed

Maintain a proactive approach to staying informed about updates, changes, or potential risks associated with dependencies. Utilize features like release notes, forums, and mailing lists integrated within Jira or Azure DevOps for seamless communication.

By integrating these strategies into your Scrum process and leveraging the capabilities of Azure DevOps and Jira, you can effectively manage dependencies and steer your projects towards success. Remember, while dependencies may pose challenges, they also present opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and growth.

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