Story development

It’s a common statement that once you are a senior engineer you don’t get to code anymore. It’s not that senior engineers are forbidden from coding, it’s still on the job description.

But senior engineers get pulled into so many tasks they rarely have time for coding. 

A senior engineers might get pulled into a critical outage, a roadmap meeting, defending architectural boundaries from other teams, assisting team members with their tasks, reviewing code, coordinating large projects with other teams. 

None of those tasks involve coding on the part of a senior engineer. And none of those tasks involve story development.

Story development is the process of taking feature requests and refining them into technical tasks.

Unless your team is stacked with experienced engineers or in a realm with little domain knowledge, story development will fall on the senior engineer.

Maintaining a ‘sprint ready’ backlog for a team of 10 engineers takes more than a 1 hour meeting once a week.

My philosophy is that, as the senior person, I should prioritize the tasks that allow the other nine people on the team to work efficiently. If the backlog is full of two sentence feature requests, the next sprint is going to be full of junior engineers figuring out the requirements. 

Don’t ignore the backlog to fight fires. Figure out what it will take to empower the non-senior part of the team to fight the fires. Then you can focus on the hire value tasks. Building the roadmap, evolving the architecture and developing stories.