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Ticket Size Does Not Matter

Photo by Daria Volkova on Unsplash

In practically every training class and consultancy work we do in Actineo there are two ideas that someone will bring up at some point:

  • Ticket size matters
  • Tickets need to be of the same size

To me, those are two myths.

I tend to argue that “ticket size does NOT matter“, although what I really mean is that size may have an influence on an individual ticket lead time, but paying attention to size is focusing on the “wrong” thing.

In manufacturing processes, process and output variability is something we strive to remove. If we have a production line, we want every item out to that production line to come out in a very consistent manner and with very little variability.

However, this does not apply to complex uncertain work such as knowledge work. In these environments, variability is an inherent attribute. We strive to make our work items as small as possible. But that does not mean that we must make all tickets the same size.

I really like how Dan Vacanti talks about this in his scrum.org white paper “Little’s Law for Professional Scrum with Kanban

“[…] more importantly, the variability in work item size is probably not the variability that is killing your predictability. Your bigger predictability problems are usually too much WIP, the frequency with which you violate Little’s Law’s assumptions, etc. Generally, those are easier problems to fix than trying to arbitrarily make all work items the same size. Even if you were in a context where size did matter, it would be more about right-sizing your work and not same-sizing your work.“

Would love to hear you thoughts on this.

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