Unlimited WIP

Unlimited WIP
: Start new work before current work is completed

Proverbs: More haste less speed

Also Known As: Unbounded Commitment

Motivation: When faced by competing and vociferous stakeholder demands, team members can feel obliged to action multiple items simultaneously. In an attempt to pacify stakeholders, they can therefore claim that an item is being worked on and is no longer enqueued.

Structure: A development team accept items that have been enqueued in an ordered backlog. There is no limit to the number of items that are allowed to become work in progress.

Applicability: Unlimited WIP is common in reactive environments where product ownership is weak and/or scattered, such that no effective backlog prioritization occurs.

Consequences:Having no limit on inventory increases batch sizes and reduces the prospects of incremental release. Work depreciates while it remains in progress, and the timely delivery of value is compromised.

: Lean Kanban methods explicitly limit Work In Progress.  Note that WIP limits may be applied to each Kanban states where work may become enqueued. Scrum does not strictly require WIP limits to be enforced as batch sizes are constrained in the form of Sprint Backlogs. Unlimited WIP is discouraged in all agile methods.