#1 Calendar taskboards and date-constrained work
The most important, visible and distinguishing pattern in VMF is the integration of calendar aspects into a classic agile taskboard that allows us to visualize the time dimension when planning and executing work. Concretely, this means a VMF taskboard design will have date-related rows or columns in it instead of (or besides) a value stream, and we embrace that some tasks or PBIs will have date-related constraints.
- a column for each day of the week in the VMF Sprint board
- a row or column for each sprint in the VMF Map board
- recurring tasks
- tasks with deadlines
- tasks that must be done on a certain day or hour
- dependencies that must be followed up
#2 Date-constrained empirical planning
The second pattern in VMF is the extension of empirical planning activities to include date-constrained work.
The addition of calendar-based rows or columns implies that a VMF planning session is first date-driven and second priority-driven – but without losing its empirical nature. In VMF we will take dates into account when defining a sprint or quarterly backlog.
This is in contrast to a classic Scrum planning approach which only takes into account capacity and priority, or a Kanban approach that has no planning. While we integrate dates, we maintain the empirical nature of agile planning as a core practice. This is a bit more complex than classic agile planning which is only priority-centric and slightly changes the nature of the planning practice.
In practice, this is not as difficult as it sounds. It means we start by taking into account date-constrained work, and fill in the remaining expected capacity of the sprint, quarter or release with priority work. When picking up work, date constrained work will have priority over non-date-constrained work.
#3 The VMF Map and mid-term planning
The third distinguishing pattern in VMF is the multi-track backlog, which we call the VMF Map (in honor of the User Story Map, which it resembles) and the associated mid-term refinement and planning activities. The VMF map is a two-dimensional team backlog. One dimension represents priorities and dates. The other dimension represents independent products, value streams, projects, or similar. Essentially different types of work that the team concurrently works on within the same planning window. A VMF team is a positive multi-tasking team that integrates and prioritizes work from different value streams into a delivery of maximum business value from a systemic perspective. Refinement and mid-term planning activities consist not only of classic refinement work (changing priorities, adding details, breaking down work) but also of regularly studying progress across different value streams and making strategic refinement decisions based on empirical data. For example, we might decide to descope a project or value stream from a team because the unplanned work the team has to handle exceeds initial projections.