As an agile team member, when do you sign-up/self-assign a task/Jira ticket?

Does this happen before the iteration, during the iteration, during the daily stand-up meeting or it can happen anytime during the iteration?Is this observed as a practice during retrospectives?

Quoting any example would be highly appreciated!


I suspect that the best answer is "Whatever the team &/or scrum master have agreed to"! In my experience some teams never self assign some others allow some or all developers to self assign at any time (from the current stories) and just about everything in between. A lot also depends on the team size and experience levels.


First, let me say that Steve's answer is spot on. The "right" answer is whatever works for your team. Now here comes my highly opinionated answer...

Work should never be assigned to anyone. It is the responsibility of the team to get the work done. Therefore, the correct time to attach a name to a ticket is just before work begins on an item. Team members should pull work into the queue (in priority order!) as they personally have the bandwidth to do so. Anything else is a team smell in my opinion.

The problem with assigning any work to team members any earlier than this is that you run the risk of a single team member becoming overloaded while others are idle, which results in your team not getting all their work done. If people pull new work in (again, in priority order!) as they finish their last item, then you maximize the team's throughput.

Of course, this assumes a team full of T shaped people. Falling back on "do what's right for your team", it's ok for the team to decide that Joe is best suited to add that new widget to the database, but be wary of this behavior and don't formalize it less you slip down a slippery slope.


To allow for maximum flexibility and best use of capacity within the team, I generally advise my teams not to self-assign a task until they are about to work on it during an iteration. In most cases, early self-assignment can lead to some team members running out of work or certain team members cherry-picking stories they want to work on even if they don't have the time right now.

In some cases, it does make complete sense to grab a group of related tasks/stories if delivering them together is the best thing for the team, but that only works when stories are granular enough that they are all part of a single flow.

There are exceptions, as always. Specialists (for example, a front-end developer) can't always tackle all the work and other members of the team may not be skilled enough to handle it. This is probably a good case for direct assignment to an individual during planning phases.

However, as @Steve Barnes mentioned in his answer, it comes down to what works for your team!


Typically you will pick up a task during the morning standup. Though, if you finish your tasks before the end of the day it's perfectly reasonable to pick the next task off of the board.

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