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.
Hopefully the title of this blog post got your attention. Culture seems to be at the core of what is important these days. Many authors like Dan Pink, Steve Denning and Jurgen Appelo are making strong cases for the import of recruiting and retention programs as a means of building ground-up innovative companies. Many of the arguments from these thought leaders have been built on shoulders of the top management thinkers of yesteryear. Folks like Tom DeMarco who claimed that workers were different than say machines because of humans’ non-fungible characteristics. If you haven’t read Slack yet, please do go out and buy it. It’s well worth the money and time and would make a perfect stocking stuffer.
When you do recruiting for your team, what are the criteria’s you choose your candidates by? How highly ranked is culture versus say competence? See what Brad Feld of WSJ has to say here. Do you agree?
While I was the President and Co-Founder of Danube, I did a lot of the recruiting. But, really, I only looked at three things. Here they are in order of priority:
- Culture Fit. Our office in Portland was tough. There were a lot of very strong women working in a collaborative sales environment. This was very intimidating to many of the salesmen I interviewed who were used to individual quotas and goals [incentive structures are a topic for another blog post I am sure].
- Type-A personality or a Willingness to make decisions. Was the person a slacker or a go getter? Really – I have nothing against slackers but I can’t work with them in the business world. I am simply not interested. Moreover, I hate it when employees don’t feel empowered to make decisions – big or small. As I always told employees, I may be temporarily angry with you for a decision you’ve made that I didn’t agree with, but I’ll terminate your employment contract for not making a decision when a decision was called for. I can’t be everywhere always – so the groups I manage need to think for themselves given the nature of the information in front of them and act.
- Intellectually curious. I want people who have a thirst and desire to learn new things every moment of every day. If you’re not having rigorous debates and learning through exploration –you wouldn’t have been a fit at Danube.
You will see that I simply didn’t evaluate based on keyword experiences. Sure – it matters, but ultimately you can learn just about anything (Salesforce, QuickBooks, Ruby, Scrum, etc). So – to me, culture is way more important than competence. Do you agree or do you think that culture isn’t material when building a business? I would love to hear from the readership in the comments section below.
Tags: culture, Dan Pink, Danube, DeMarco, recruiting, retention, WSJ
A colleague of mine, Michael James, just posted his Introduction to Scrum video on YouTube. You might want to take a look and/or pass this link to your colleagues. The full series is available at http://ScrumTrainingSeries.com.
I think is the right length and depth for an overview of Scrum – it’s not so short as to be trite (or worse, incorrect), but it’s not an exhaustive examination of Scrum either. This video is good prep for people who are planning to enter a ScrumMaster class and don’t want to go in cold. It is also good for stakeholders around the company who want an understanding of Scrum so that they can work better with their development teams.
I’d be very interested in hearing your views of this video.Tags: agile, agile scrum methodology, Scrum Basics
When organizations adopt an agile approach to development like Scrum there is so much focus on the iterative nature of agile development that long range vision and strategic product design can get lost. Jimi Fosdick is doing a webinar on November 28 to discuss the need to include long term product vision, coherent user experience and User Centered design and architecture along with specific best practices for achieving a coherent product that delights users.
Topics will include:
• Discussion of Product Vision and approaches to crafting a compelling overall vision for products
• Discussion of User-Centered/Value-Driven design and approaches to incorporating user experience (UX) and software architecture early in the development process
• Explanation of the pitfalls of a lack of vision and so-called “hybrid” models for incorporating UX and architecture into Scrum Projects
You can register for the webinar hereTags: agile, Agile Conference 2008, agile scrum methodology, retrospective meetings, scrum backlog grooming, Scrum Basics, scrum daily standup, Scrum Methodology, scrum sprints, sprint review, The ScrumMaster Role, user stories, user stories and scrum
The webinar, “A Marriage Made in Heaven: Agile and Project Portfolio Management,” took place on October 27. I (David Parker) hosted, along with Russ King, Vice President, Product Development, Results Positive, Inc. and Caleb Brown, Systems Engineer at CollabNet. During this session, we explored the benefits of marrying Agile Project Management and PPM and we did a live demo showing this using HP’s PPM solution and CollabNet’s ScrumWorks Pro to demonstrate the powerful capabilities of managing a resource constrained project portfolio.
If you’re interested, you can watch the recording and download my slides. Here, I post some of the questions and our answers:
Q: How feasible is Agile on Projects & Programs?
A: Agile is typically thought of in the context of individual projects. Companies sometimes fail to scale that paradigm to a program level, where the program is a superset of multiple projects, each running its own lifecycle and release plan. The trick is to weave those separate lines of development (projects) into a coherent and seamless deliverable (program). The complexity comes in gathering meaningful metrics and planning releases that thread the elements together. This is exceedingly difficult to do manually. CollabNet’s ScrumWorks Pro is a tool that can make this manageable. It supports the planning of complex releases that weave in multiple development threads.
Q: Will this process will be feasible for maintenance related projects (Incident handling, less than 8 hours development works, etc.,)?
A: From the PPM perspective, an individual defect is not in and of itself a project and as such, would not be tracked. What might be tracked is a larger group of maintenance items in the form of an Epic. From an Agile perspective, a bug report or defect is just another piece of deliverable business value, like a User Story or any other Product Backlog Item. From a bug report, the product owner and team would create a Product Backlog Item (PBI), along with success criteria (definition of done). It is prioritized against all of the other Product Backlog Item by the product owner. Again, multiple bugs/defects are often grouped in an Epic.
Q: It seems the PPM is geared toward a waterfall process. It appears there is only visibility into the Development phase, but with agile, you could potentially address all phases within a single sprint. Is that just because of the way this implementation was set up or is it there isn’t a true marriage of the agile within PPM?
A: PPM in this scenario is focused on evaluating the ROI of different projects and deciding where to make investments. Agile is focused on execution of the projects that are chosen. That said, the scenario we propose makes the entire organization more Agile, in that the feedback loop is instantaneous. This allows those that are making the investment decisions to adapt and make course corrections that are indicated by that feedback loop. The integration gives all team members the ability to work in a more Agile fashion, and gives Stakeholders and Project managers the ability to benefit from the faster feedback and data generated by the team working this way.
Q: Can the tasks in Scrum WorksPro be connected to tasks, timelines in Source forge?
A: Not with Sourceforge. However this is possible with Collabnet Teamforge, the current commercial version of Sourceforge.
Q: Can you clarify what part of Agile PPM can be done in scrum works pro without need for HP PPM?
A: ScrumWorks Pro is focused on project execution and project management. As such ScrumWorks does a number of things not accomplished in HP PPM. These include PBI tracking and prioritization, Task management sprint planning, release planning, team velocity, forecasting, and many other functions related to the management of an Agile project.
Q: So are you proposing (in the demo) to combine a phase/waterfall planning and design phase, but then execute in an agile framework?
A: Combining HP PPM and ScrumWorks Pro adds to the agility of the entire organization. Feedback loops between the development team and the PMO are enhanced allowing the PMO to make course corrections required. I would not say that as a result the entire enterprise has become agile – only that they’ve become more agile. Generally, we do not see many organizations that practice a pure version of ANY methodology –be it Agile or otherwise. The reality is that organizations have a mix of methodologies, like Scrum, Kanban, Waterfall, hybrids, etc. Different teams in large organizations will often build software differently, so the challenge is to roll up the data from those disparate teams. Despite their differences, there are a number of common metrics you can track regardless of project type. These include actual cost versus budgeted cost, scope change, personnel/resource change, delivery dates, and others. Tools like ScrumWorks and HP PPM do a good job in tracking these kinds of numbers.
Q: Continuing from the first question, from a portfolio perspective, having “”open-ended”” project budgets within the Agile/SDLC process is not in the best interest of my customer. How does budget planning and Agile development work together while still having some control over costs?
A: Project prioritization and the associated budgeting/funding are is under the purview of the PPM tools. The agile project management tool tracks the amount of time individuals spend on the project. The integration between the HP PPM tool and the Agile Project Management tool, allows you to easily compare budgets against actuals.
Q: For the Forecast report in SWP, if new backlog items are added during the sprint, does that add to the top or bottom of the bar? Also, how does the Project Portfolio Management tool fit into the larger Enterprise Architecture discipline?
A: It depends on what report you are looking at. In the forecast report, added backlog item appears on the bottom of the report and impacts the forecasted delivery date.
The “Burn-Up” Report shows the relationship between work completed per iteration (sprint velocity) and project scope change. The forecast feature extrapolates the rate work gets done against the rate of scope change to provide an empirical release completion forecast for more accurate release planning.
Q: In agile, what are the differences between being adaptive to late changes in requirements within a sprint and scope change?
A: Scope change refers to any added or subtracted scope, typically measured in some form of relative effort unit like Story Points. As such, scope may be added as a team discovers more about an existing requirement. In other words, if the team finds out that a requirement is more complex than was originally envisioned, they may re-estimate the number of story points and this might add scope to a sprint. The opposite could also be true. Whether this occurs because of a discovery inside a sprint or outside of it doesn’t change the nature of how it is tracked or reported upon.
Q: When a committed backlog item could not be completed in a sprint, naturally it holds the top most priority in the following sprint. How does ScrumWorks helps in tracking this item from the beginning to end?
A: An unfinished PBI may or may not be a high enough priority in a future sprint. The determination is made by the product owners. In any event, any activity against that PBI is tracked. Tasks completed that relate to that PBI are tracked, as are those that were uncompleted.
Q: What certification do CollabNet-trained scrum masters receive?
A: Those who attend one of our Certified ScrumMaster or Certified Product Owner training are eligible to take the exam deliver by the Scrum Alliance. It should be noted that CollabNet is one of the leaders in ScrumMaster product Owner training. We have more Certified Scrum Trainers on staff than any other vendor, and we’ve trained more than 12,000 ScrumMasters.
Q: If an organization wants to be able to report a metric of time to resolution for individual PBIs, what settings are available in this integration to include/exclude a PBI from the current active lists so that a countdown starts appropriately?
A: Forecast reports in ScrumWorks can be filtered on any number of aspects, allowing a user to deliver estimates on individual tasks, Stories, Epics or Themes. By the way, you can try out ScrumWorks Pro either in a hosted environment or as a free download.
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
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.
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