Shape Up Forum

"Medium batch" projects

Hey there,

Shape Up talks about two project sizes: 1-2 week “small batch” projects and 6 week “big batch” projects. Since my company adopted Shape Up I’ve noticed a tendency for our project appetites to be 3-5 week (with an average of 4 weeks) “medium batch” projects.

An informal survey of the builder teams indicates this isn’t working well – the majority said they had enough work to fill 6 weeks. I’m starting to think “medium batch” projects are a dangerous middle ground – the scope is large enough it’s likely to have unknowns but you lose the natural slack that cool down provides to prevent those unknowns from delaying the next project.

Has anyone else experimented with “medium batch” projects? What has your experience been?

If you’re not doing “medium batch” projects how are you scheduling them? If the work actually does seem like it will take 4 weeks do you make it a six week project with a smaller builder team?

It’s helpful to see the Appetite as “how much time do we want to spend on this problem” rather than “how long will this solution take”. From Chapter 3:

An appetite is completely different from an estimate. Estimates start with a design and end with a number. Appetites start with a number and end with a design. We use the appetite as a creative constraint on the design process.

Coming from the Agile world, it’s hard to disconnect from the whole estimate idea, but I think it’s key to understanding the fixed time, variable scope principle.