Action Stages and Waiting Stages

At this point you should be familiar with the idea and benefits of sharing the workflow activities as cards on the wall. Next is a common concept for a card wall: the distinction between action stages and waiting stages.

Once again, you can find below the representations for the workflow examples previously introduced.

SW Development example - Snapshot

Ordering coffee at Starbucks  - Snapshot

There is a very important difference between these two workflows. The sample Starbucks workflow has both waiting stages and action stages, while the sample SW development workflow has only action stages: Analyse, In Dev, Validate and Release.. In a waiting stage the status of the work item is not changing; it is waiting for some action, while in an action stage the item is being worked on.

The figure below depicts the same Starbucks workflow, but now highlighting the waiting and action stages with different background colors.

The Starbucks workflow was based on real-world experience ordering at Starbucks. In contrast, our SW development workflow, up to this point, only shows the traditional phases of SW development. These phases don’t represent everything that happens in the real world—this workflow can be improved.

 Most Agile card walls have action stages as well as waiting stages. The following are photos of several card walls.

One commonality between these card walls is the presence of stages named “Ready for Something”; in the photos above, you can see the following waiting stages: ready to play, ready for dev, ready for QA.

The nomenclature for these waiting stages might vary quite a bit, but they all carry the idea of a waiting state, a buffer prior to reaching the next downstream action stage. Some common names are: Queue, Buffer, Ready for, and Waiting for. For the remainder of this book, we will use the term Queue for referring to the waiting stages.