As a software developer or software engineer, you may often find yourself with a backlog of tasks or "stories" that need to be completed. It can be tempting to try to work on multiple stories at the same time, in order to get through the backlog more quickly. However, there are pros and cons to working on multiple stories in parallel, and it's important to carefully consider which approach is best for you and your team.
Benefits of working on multiple stories in parallel
There are a number of potential benefits to working on multiple stories in parallel.
- Reduced overall time to complete the backlog: By tackling multiple stories at once, you can potentially finish them all more quickly than if you were to work on them one at a time. This can be especially useful if you have a tight deadline or are working on a project with a fixed end date.
- Improved efficiency: Working on multiple stories in parallel can allow you to take advantage of "idle" time that might otherwise be wasted. For example, if you are waiting for feedback on one story, you can work on another story in the meantime.
- Greater flexibility: Working on multiple stories in parallel can give you more flexibility to respond to changing priorities or unexpected events.
- Improved motivation: Some people find that working on multiple stories in parallel can help to keep them motivated and engaged, as it can provide a sense of progress and accomplishment.
- Improved team collaboration: Working on multiple stories in parallel can facilitate better collaboration within a team, as it allows team members to share knowledge and resources more effectively.
- Improved customer satisfaction: By working on multiple stories in parallel, you may be able to deliver value to your customers more quickly and efficiently.
Drawbacks of working on multiple stories in parallel
However, there are also a number of potential downsides to working on multiple stories in parallel.
- Decreased focus: Working on multiple stories at once can make it more difficult to stay focused and motivated, as you are constantly switching between different tasks. This can lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in errors or mistakes.
- Increased risk of conflicts: Working on multiple stories in parallel can increase the risk of conflicts or issues arising, as different stories may depend on shared resources or dependencies.
- Reduced visibility: Working on multiple stories in parallel can make it more difficult to track progress and ensure that you are meeting your goals. It may also be harder for others to see what you are working on and how you are progressing.
- Increased complexity: Working on multiple stories in parallel can add additional complexity to your work, as you have to juggle multiple tasks and priorities at once.
- Increased stress: Working on multiple stories in parallel can be stressful, as you may feel pressure to complete everything quickly and efficiently. This can lead to burnout or other negative impacts on your well-being.
Because Scrum teams are self-organizing and self-managing, the decision is ultimately up to the team to decide for themselves. The most important thing to make sure is that the team fulfills its sprint commitments consistently. If this means that the team is working on multiple user stories at the same time, that is ok. What’s also important is that everyone on the team feels comfortable if you do decide to work on multiple stories at once, otherwise it won’t be as effective as focussing on only one story. It's important to carefully weigh the pros and cons and to experiment with different approaches to find out what works best for you and your team.