In a Scrum context, the definition of a “spike” is “a story or task aimed at answering a question or gathering information, rather than at producing shippable product.” In this article, Bill Ambrosini discusses how to manage them and when to use this activity.
Spikes might be used for reducing technical debt or creating a “proof of concept”. They should have two major characteristics:
1. Have clear objectives and outcomes
2. Be timeboxed
Some of the smells that might indicate that you need a spike are:
* The team has difficulties to estimate the stories
* Stories from specific parts of the application are consistently late or difficult to complete.
* The team seems worried about creeping technical issues.
The article suggest to work with the team to determine the effort-to-grief ratio of each issue to detect which spike candidates should be included in future sprints.
Read the complete article on http://www.scrumalliance.org/articles/503-spikes-and-the-efforttogrief-ratio