End to end or finding Neverland

11420892_1203289116353079_875656010_n“End to end” squads and “end to end” responsibility! Another one of those buzz words. A magical construct to solve all your delivery challenges. Just having everybody, every skill that is needed to deliver on a purpose together in one squad, heaven! When I – Saloua – first heard about it, I was an immediate fan. I became an enthusiastic aficionado to the believe and I spread the word.

Well, that high ended quickly. As soon as I dove into it and tried to apply it in a way that would help me and my squads, trouble arrived. I remember few heated discussion with my dear friend Marijke. She was trying to get me to forget about the ideal world and face the reality of our daily work. It’s great to strive for Utopia. But I learned to accept there is no single magical solution that can be implemented in 1 day and gets you to Utopia. Work towards it in little steps, one day and one milestone at the time. The post of today is to share these challenges with you. I hope by sharing them, I can help you understand the concept of “end to end”, the opportunities and the pitfalls so you can make the most of it!

5 challenges with end to end and how to prevent it becoming your Neverland*:

Challenge 1: We don’t really seem to agree on a common definition for “end to end”. The dictionary explains it in such simple way: end to end is from first to last. But how do you define first and where is last in your chain? A 1 million dollar question! If I knew the answer I would be rich and famous by now. What I do know however is that making the chain too long will cost you in efficiency and making it too short will throw your end to end utopia down the drain.

Challenge 2: “End to end” implicitly includes a chain of professionals with very different skills and capabilities. Unless most of your team members are as good marketers as brilliant java programmers and at the same time great Operational engineers, you will end up with a team that is too large to function in an optimal way.

Challenge 3: “End to end” never ends. You can make your chain as long and as complete as you wish, there will always be someone or something that is missing! Remember that birthday party where you thought you invited everyone that mattered and no one was forgotten? Turns out you didn’t invite auntie Anna who is the half-sister of the cousin of your mother in law…how could you dare to forget her :-p! Working in a large organisation with complex systems, this is a hard one to solve to me.

Challenge 4: How to include the big wide world in your “end to end” squads? These external parties are usually the bottle neck for your delivery pipeline but unfortunately as well the hardest to get on board in your squad. As they are external, they will (usually) not be part of your squad.

Challenge 5: hand over time: Assuming you did not – like me – manage to get the super duper squad where everyone can do everything. You will be facing the issue that you can’t keep your squad optimally busy during the full sprint. For example, front end guys will at some point wait for the delivery from back end guys and vice versa. Thin functional slicing helps here but it remains a challenge.

So. My ONE AND ONLY tip – and be sure to keep it very very preciously – is; define your “end to end” that suits your needs best. Cut the chain at the moment you reach the best trade-off between having an efficient squad and controlling most of your pipeline. Ignore everyone who tells you otherwise. End to end squads do have a great potential but they should be defined within boundaries that make sense. So find a way and a squad composition that works for you. While doing that and delivering value as a result, let the others keep on searching for Neverland.

Cheers, Saloua

*Neverland stands for a land where you can never land 

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One thought on “End to end or finding Neverland

  1. Refreshing and honest! I try to make a difference between Feeling end-to-end responsible and having it all in your squad. If you withdraw on the island that you can manage within your squad, without Feeling responsible for the E2E journey of the customer, there is a risk that parts of the journey are left like the last bitterball on a plate: no one wants to take it and everybody looks at the others. So feeling E2E responsible without being able to do it all in the squad means explicitely addressing the rest of the actions to other squads.

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