The Scrum approach to agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. Scrum and other agile methods were inspired by its shortcomings. Scrum emphasizes collaboration, functioning software, team self management, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities.
A pattern I’ve noticed is that Scrum projects are typically managed informally, with the only measures used being various velocity metrics and burndown charts. This may be an issue. Many project managers and executives resist scrum because these only measure the speed of delivery, not the project’s cost or the business value it generates. One of the major differences between traditional and agile projects is that traditional projects focus on delivering software that satisfies requirements, while agile projects focus on maximizing ROI through continuous feedback and re-planning.
This is where Earned Business Value calculations come in. It fits well with Agile projects, since the focus of agile projects is on business value rather than conformance to requirements (outcomes over outputs). In many cases, EVM metrics are easier to calculate and understand in agile environments than in traditional ones. There are three key management measures – Cost Performance Index (CPI), Schedule Performance Index (SPI), and Earned Business Value (EBV) – that provide information to help manage an agile project from and ROI perspective.
There is a solid white paper on this topic at .
I’d also be very interested in your comments to this post.Tags: agile, Agile Conference 2008, agile scrum methodology, CSM Exam, Danube, Earned Business Value, EBC, product owner scrum, retrospective meetings, scrum backlog, Scrum Basics, scrum daily standup, scrum effort estimation, Scrum Methodology, scrum story points, sprint review, sprint review meetings, The ScrumMaster Role
Building and maintaining a Product Backlog can be a time-consuming effort. Though the Product Owner has final say in the prioritization, a good product backlog is a result of a combined effort of the entire team – Product Owner, Scrum team, ScrumMaster and stakeholders.
One expert in this area is CollabNet Certified Scrum Trainer Angela Druckman. Ms. Druckman will be hosting a webinar focusing on techniques and ideas for improving the overall effectiveness of backlog management.
The webinar will be held on Monday October 27, 2011 at 11:00 am pacific time. You can register here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/568237585Tags:
There is an interesting article on the Scrum Alliance Website entitled “Negotiating Scrum Through a Waterfall”. Phil Southward, CSM, CSP details the considerations development teams must face in a transition. Is it all or nothing, or can these two development methods coexist? Does it depend upon the project or how willing the organization is willing to embrace new methodologies? http://www.scrumalliance.org/articles/189-negotiating-scrum-through-a-waterfall
Phil’s intent in writing this article is not to pit the two methodologies against each other. Although his preference leans toward agile, he realizes that going full agile is sometimes not possible, particularly in the beginning of the transition. Rather his intent is to explore how Scrum can fit into a waterfall environment when the organization is unable, or unwilling to implement Scrum completely.
If you are interested in this discussion and want to explore the differences of Scrum and Waterfall in more detail – check out this great whitepaper “ Introduction to Agile Software Development” written by Victor Szalvay, CollabNet CTO and CST. It’s an excellent primer for those new to Scrum and agile. Szalvay discusses agile’s origins, its basic concepts, and how it has revolutionized the way software is developed.
In February 2001 seventeen software developers met at a ski resort in Snowbird, Utah to do some skiing while spending time reflecting on what defined the core principles of agile software development methods. Although they had unique experience and expectations, they united with the objective to uncover better ways of developing software and to help others to do the same. In their discussions they found consensus around four main values, which we know now today as the “Agile Manifesto”. Most of us practicing agile have probably memorized these 4 guiding values – but it’s always good to periodically come back to them and reflect on what they mean to us today:
– Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
– Working software over comprehensive documentation
– Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
– Responding to change over following a plan
Supplementing the Manifesto, the Twelve Principles further describe what it means to be Agile. As I read through these I thought of how software development has changed since 2001 – especially for enterprises with globally distributed software development teams. As you read through these principles – which ones do you find the most important or the most challenging to adhere to? If you were to rewrite any of the principles which one(s) would it be and what would it be?
1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’
3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter
4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the
6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face
7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a
constant pace indefinitely.
9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
When you think of the word “habit” what do you think of? In the dictionary, there are several distinctly different meanings for “habit” such as:
1. A customary practice or use
2. An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary
3. An addiction, especially to narcotics
4. A dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality
We tend to think of “good” habits or “bad” habits. When the behavior we are repeating results in positive circumstances, it is “good”. When it leads to negative results, addictions etc. it is “bad”.
The “daily scrum” is the heartbeat of scrum and is a “good habit”. Tamara Sulaiman, a Certified Scrum Trainer, in her blog post titled “Techniques for Improving Your Daily Scrum; when Your Daily Scrum isn’t Daily” says, “The daily scrum is one of the most valuable practices that any team can use.” The purpose of the daily scrum is to increase the team’s communication and focus by answering 3 questions, “What have I accomplished since the last meeting? What do I plan to do for the next meeting? What impediments are in my way? “ When teams don’t huddle daily, they risk losing the communication, focus and momentum of a team necessary to build the right product with the appropriate quality on time. Oftentimes, teams will have excuses for avoiding the daily scrum or stand up meetings. I’m sure you will be familiar with many of the excuses Tamara talks about. The daily scrum, however, makes teams more successful because it is the smallest, tightest feedback loop built into the Scrum framework. Think of it like brushing your teeth or exercising daily– it’s a good daily habit to make and will pay off in the long haul.
Chances are you’re reading this blog because you use Scrum or agile. But some of you may be here because you want to learn more about Scrum and agile—it’s something you’ve just heard about and now you need to find out what it’s all about. If that’s the case, Joshua Brown’s recent article on the basics of Scrum is a great place to start. It addresses the framework’s basic structure, roles, and rationale for departing from traditional management. It’s short, but it starts at ground zero and builds from there.
If you’re looking for additional materials to help you wrap your head around the basics of Scrum, I’d recommend taking a look at “What Is Scrum? The Five-minute Explanation for Folks Not Yet Practicing It” and “Scrum Mechanics: An Introduction to the Basic Scrum Engine” by Danube’s Katie Playfair. Last year, CST Michael James authored a Scrum Refcard for DZone, which is another great crash course for Scrum newbies. Download it here: http://www.collab.net/sites/default/files/uploads/CollabNet_scrumreferencecard.pdfTags: agile alm, agile scrum methodology, Danube, Scrum Basics, software development
One of the biggest reasons the Scrum framework works so well is through the role of the ScrumMaster, an individual whose time is dedicated to ensuring a team’s ability to deliver on its sprint promises remains unobstructed. The ScrumMaster achieves this in a number of ways, such as by reminding the team to adhere to the Scrum process and keeping the Product Owner informed about how development is going. But, above all, the ScrumMaster is charged with removing impediments that prevent a team from completing the work it has negotiated for a given sprint. This can literally be anything from replacing a broken PC to mediating a disagreement between two developers. If it’s keeping the team from moving forward, it’s the ScrumMaster’s job to eliminate the impediment.
But what about situations when the ScrumMaster is the impediment? As Vikas Hazrati of InfoQ observes, it’s a scenario faced by many Scrum and agile teams, especially offshore installations where cultural hierarchy and traditional communication strategies complicate the process even further. But, as many CSTs have countered, when the ScrumMaster is creating an additional impediment for the team, there’s likely a greater degree of dysfunction lurking elsewhere that is manifesting itself in the ScrumMaster role. Usually, it means that traditional, command-and-control management techniques are still dominating the organization, even if the outward effort is to become more agile or abide by the rules of Scrum. For instance, if the ScrumMaster is committing to work on behalf of the team, acting as a proxy for the Product Owner, or actively managing the team (instead of respecting the ScrumMaster role’s lack of authority), Scrum’s distribution of authority and responsibilities are being broken. And when that happens, Scrum’s potential to deliver value is undermined, as well.
Do you encounter ScrumMasters at your organization who seem to do the opposite of what their role demands? If so, what are the reasons you suspect these ScrumMasters are failing to remove impediments, etc.? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.Tags: Scrum Basics
One of the most common refrains in the agile and Scrum industry is that implementing those new processes is both hard and disruptive. By now, no one should be surprised to find out that there’s pain in changing—especially in situations in which groups of people are asked to dramatically revise the way they’ve always worked. But in an InfoQ story by Vikas Hazrati, Dave Nicolette reveals his experiences with Scrum and agile adoption, which suggest that a successful transformation is even harder than we all thought.
Many consider the creation of a single, functioning Scrum pilot team to be the big hump to get over during initial implementation. But according to Nicolette, that doesn’t necessarily mean an organization is out of the woods. As he explains, it’s not uncommon for a pilot team to be broken up to begin additional teams, which can often undermine the chemistry of the original team and fail to translate throughout the organization. In other scenarios, a pilot team may simply revert to old habits as soon as an on-site consultant leaves.
In Nicolette’s view, the two main reasons that pilots fail to stick at an organization are:
- “Local process optimization – The pilot teams were separate from rest of the organization. They were working in isolation from rest of the organization and as soon as the pilot was over that ripple in the ocean faded away. The changes were carried on too much at a local level to cause any amount of friction in rest of the organization.
- “Insensitivity to emotional factors – The consultants ignored the support of individuals and departments who would have been instrumental in the sustained success of the effort. As a result of this as soon as the consultants left, these support groups rallied together to get into the earlier way of working.”
That’s some good food for thought—and possibly a way to help your pilot team lead the entire organization toward a successful Scrum or agile adoption.Tags:
One of the best ways to illustrate how agile and Scrum can transform the way an organization manages its development is through case studies. Rather than simply saying that agile methods will streamline processes, reduce cycle time, and improve product quality, a case study illustrates how agile and Scrum can achieve those things. Moreover, they’re inspirational. When you can see that someone at another organization has experienced the same challenges and worked through them to successfully implement agile, it gives you the confidence to embark on that journey yourself.
Do you have an agile or Scrum transformation story you’d like to tell? If so, please post them here in the comments. To make things interesting, the person who submits the best one will receive a free iPod Nano.
Please make sure that the story you submit contains the following three sections:
- The Problem. What was going wrong at your organization that made you decide to implement agile or Scrum?
- The Application. Once your organization decided to use Scrum to surface dysfunction and transform its processes, how did you go about doing it? What were the first steps you took? Was it an organization-wide adoption or just on the team level? Did you use training or tools?
- The Solution. What was the result? Can you quantify the improvements that Scrum and agile helped realize? Have other teams at your organization begun adopting agile management techniques?
I look forward to reading your stories. Deadline for submission is Dec. 31, 2009 and please try to keep your case studies to between 500 and 750 words.Tags: Scrum case studies, success with Scrum
I always like to point out valuable resources for those who are beginning to use agile and Scrum at their organization. While I’d always recommend that those who are serious about Scrum consider taking a Certified ScrumMaster course with a knowledgeable and experienced Trainer, it’s always good to have supplemental resources like the Refcardz produced by DZone to give developers a helpful cheat sheet on a wide array of topics. Previously, DZone published an introductory guide to Scrum authored by Michael James, one of Danube Technologies’ Certified Scrum Trainers. If you enjoyed that one, they just published a related Refcard on agile adoption and how it improves software quality. You can download it here.Tags: agile adoption, free agile resources, Scrum Basics
Scrum Training Series
- Scrum based funding model – 20 percent May 9, 2013
- The Next Big Idea March 5, 2013
- On Being Available February 17, 2013
- Should Scrum Always Require the Product Owner to Attend the Sprint Retrospective Meeting? February 5, 2013
- Happiness Metrics January 23, 2013