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Yak shaving is a progranming term that refers to a series of tasks that need to be performed before a project can progress to its next milestone. This term is believed to have been coined by Carlin Vieri and was inspired by an episode of "The Ren & Stimpy Show." The term's name alludes to the seeming uselessness of the tasks being performed, even though they may be necessary to solve a larger problem. The process of complicating a simple activity also may be considered yak shaving.
Development teams often have to perform several tasks that are miniature in terms of complexity and business relativity before a project can be proceed to its next milestone. For example, before formalizing requirements, several tasks need to be performed, such as gathering requirements from both internal and external entities, validating requirements to determine which objectives should be assigned priority, and reviewing requirements to suggest improvements and changes.
These steps are irrelevant if viewed from a larger business angle, but they need to be performed before the project can move forward. That said, some tasks may be more important than others and may enhance the organizational business value. The manager of the organization should review the set of miniature activities undertaken by the development team and determine their business importance to filter out the irrelevant activities. It leads to a waste of organizational time, effort and resources. As such, decision makers should review a project's life cycle to identify such issues.