The Scrum methodology of agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. In fact, Scrum and other agile processes were inspired by its shortcomings. The Scrum methodology emphasizes communication and collaboration, functioning software, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities — all attributes that suffer in the rigidly ordered waterfall paradigm.

30th
SEP

The ScrumMaster Role

Posted by admin under Scrum Basics

There are three fundamental roles in the Scrum method of agile software development: the Product Owner, the ScrumMaster, and the team. The second role I’d like to examine is the ScrumMaster, who, serves as a facilitator for both the Product Owner and the team. He or she has no management authority within the team and may never commit to work on behalf of the team.

In Scrum, the ScrumMaster demands a distinct personality type to succeed. The best ScrumMasters are real team players, who receive as much satisfaction from facilitating others’ success as their own. They must also be comfortable surrendering control to the Product Owner and team. For those two reasons, traditional project managers don’t usually make great ScrumMasters.

So, specifically, what does a ScrumMaster do? The ScrumMaster remove any impediments that obstruct a team’s pursuit of its sprint goals. In other words, the ScrumMaster does everything he or she can to facilitate productivity. When a developer’s computer dies, it’s the ScrumMaster’s job to ensure it is back up and running—or get another one. If developers are complaining about the high temperature in the team room, the ScrumMaster must find a way to cool it down. It might be easy to summarize a ScrumMaster’s work in a sentence or two, but scenarios he or she could face are truly infinite.

The second role for the ScrumMaster is to own the success of the teams process.  This might means helping helping the Product Owner maximize productivity or helping the team turn the sprint retrospective meeting into an evolutionary / Kaizen experience. Facilitating  for the team or Product Owner might also include tasks like helping maintain the backlog and release plan or radiating Scrum artifacts to ensure the Product Owner or The Team is informed about progress.

To understand the full scope of the Scrum Master role, see the newly updated ScrumMaster checklist for 2013.

The Scrum Training Series uses the voice of a real life ScrumMaster to re-enact the kinds of scenarios ScrumMasters encounter, such as this Sprint Retrospective Meeting scenario.

Scrum Master facilitates the Sprint Retrospective Meeting

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9th
SEP

Scrum Product Owner

Posted by admin under Scrum Basics

There are three fundamental roles in the Scrum method of agile software development: the Product Owner, the ScrumMaster, and the team. I’ll begin by discussing the Product Owner because it is the most demanding of the roles.

In Scrum, the Product Owner is the one person responsible for a project’s success. The Product Owner leads the development effort by conveying his or her vision to the team, outlining work in the scrum backlog, and prioritizing it based on business value. Of course, he or she must also consider the stakeholders (to make sure their interests are included in the release) and the team (to make sure the release is developed by the deadline and within budget). As such, the Product Owner must be available to the team to answer questions and deliver direction.

But this combination of authority and availability to the development team makes it hard for the Scrum Product Owner not to micro-manage. Scrum values self-organization and, as a result, the Product Owner must respect the team’s ability to create its own plan of action. This means that a Product Owner is forbidden to give the team more work in the middle of the sprint. Even if requirements change or a rival organization unveils a new product that renders the team’s work all for naught, the Scrum Product Owner is discouraged from altering the sprint until the next sprint planning meeting. However, the Product Owner may cancel a Sprint when necessary. One Product Owner I know cancels Sprints once or twice per year tops.

Furthermore, it is the Product Owner’s responsibility to consider which activities will produce the most business value. This means making tough decisions—that the team might not appreciate—during sprint planning. However, the Product Owner is the one person who must face the music if the project crashes and burns. Therefore, he or she must aggressively determine which features of a product are most important, when they are developed, etc. Just as the development team must produce the negotiated work for the Product Owner, the Product Owner must deliver the product to the customer.

The responsibilities of the Product Owner are also described about halfway through this video module:
Introduction To Scrum video

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5th
SEP

The Scrum Backlog

Posted by admin under Scrum Basics

In Scrum, the product backlog is the single most important artifact. The product backlog is, in essence, an incredibly detailed analysis document, which outlines every requirement for a system, project, or product. In simpler terms, it could be described as a comprehensive to-do list, expressed in priority order based on the business value each piece of work will generate. Philosophically, the scrum backlog is the engine of the business; it breaks the big-picture story down into manageable increments of work called Product Backlog Items (PBIs).

When the sprint planning meeting occurs, the Scrum team converses with the Product Owner to determine what work they will tackle in the impending iteration. At this time, the Product Owner imports PBIs from the into the sprint backlog.

Now, you may be wondering what a backlog looks like. The answer to that rests on whether a Scrum team uses manual agile or an agile tool to track progress. With manual agile, a team would create a physical manifestation of the backlog, using a dry erase board, Post It notes, or a taskboard. This is ideal for teams that work in closely proximity, whether the same office or room. In this setting, every team member has easy access to the product backlog, the sprint backlog, and the status of its stories; they can simply get up from their desks and walk over to them.

When Scrum teams are not collocated, however, they often require a tool to help them all stay on the same page. There are numerous tools designed to bring geographically distributed teams together using a virtual taskboard. Danube publishes ScrumWorks® Pro, a Scrum management tool that gives users a Web-based task management interface that mimics the look and feel of a physical taskboard. The tool also offers more detailed views of the product and sprint backlogs, organized in adjacent panes and easily modified with drag-and-drop prioritization.

Although it is the team’s responsibility for completing the work, the Product Owner is the only one who can prioritize work in the scrum backlog or, after negotiating with the team, add work to the sprint backlog.

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5th

Scrum Backlog Grooming

Posted by admin under Scrum Basics

Backlog grooming (also called maintenance) is not a formal component of the Scrum process, Ken Schwaber, who founded Scrum, advises teams to dedicate five percent of every sprint to this activity. (As with Scrum’s other meetings, the grooming should take place at the same time and place and for the same duration each sprint.)

Everyone attends the backlog grooming meeting: the team, the Product Owner, and the ScrumMaster. During the maintenance meeting, everyone helps prepare the scrum backlog for the sprint planning meeting. This usually includes adding new stories and epics, extracting stories from existing epics, and estimating effort for existing stories. Why is this helpful? Because a groomed backlog will help streamline sprint planning meetings; otherwise, they can stretch on for hours. When product backlog items contain clearly defined acceptance criteria and are estimated by the appropriate team members, the planning process does not have to be tense or overly long. By dedicating a time to backlog maintenance, the team ensures that this preliminary planning always occurs prior to the sprint planning meeting.

Watch an example backlog grooming meeting.

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