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From Creation To Execution: How Sprint Backlog Helps Scrum Teams

Scrum is an agile way to accomplish the project, usually in software development. In Scrum, artifacts are the key information providers that are designed specifically to enhance transparency of key information required to ensure that the Scrum teams are successful in delivering a ‘Done’ increment. The Scrum Process Framework defines 3 essential artifacts:Product BacklogSprint BacklogProduct IncrementIn this article, we are going to see everything in detail about Sprint Backlog in Scrum. While being a simple concept, it is misunderstood by many people. This article will clear up the confusion and explain clearly what the Sprint Backlog is and how to use it. So, let’s take a look at the ultimate guide of the Scrum Sprint BacklogWhat is a Sprint Backlog?The Sprint Backlog is a set of all the product backlog items chosen for the current sprint, plus a plan for delivering the product increment and achieving the sprint goal. This plan takes the form of all the work required to get the backlog items to “Done” in that sprint.The following video will explain how to create your first sprint backlog.The Sprint Backlog is produced by the team in the Sprint Planning meeting. It is an outcome of that meeting and the Sprint Planning meeting should not conclude until the team has produced the Sprint Backlog in some form (though it can actually change after that, as I’ll explain below). Collated below is the anatomy of Scrum Sprint Backlog.Steps for creating a better Sprint BacklogSprint Backlog is the output of the sprint planning meeting with the participation of every team member in the Scrum team. The process is as follows:There is another final step that many teams don’t do (and don’t know about!). As of the latest version of the Scrum Guide, the team must also add a continuous improvement item to the Sprint Backlog. This is an interesting and important change and will really encourage teams to take continuous improvement seriously (rather than as an afterthought). Make sure you don’t forget to do this with your teams!Once produced, the team should make sure that the Sprint Backlog is visible to everyone. This ties in with the Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. It provides a clear, real-time view of the progress of the team in completion of the sprint goal and Product Increment.How does the team plan the work?Many people might now be wondering what a “plan” is. The answer is, it can be anything that the team comes up with to complete the product increment and complete the items in the Sprint Backlog. Some people do this by breaking them into tasks, which are estimated in hours. That’s fine, though it’s not mandated by Scrum.Each team should find its own best way to plan and arrange the work. Scrum guide is very clear on this matter:The figure below shows an example of how the development team plans the work to be done in the sprint for each user story.So the Sprint Backlog will start off with some Product Backlog Items. The team can then add tasks, subtasks, designs, diagrams, whatever they like to the Sprint Backlog, as part of coming up with a plan to complete the work.Can you change the Sprint Backlog?Some people believe that the Sprint Backlog cannot be changed during the Sprint, that it is locked down when the sprint starts. This is totally untrue!The Scrum Guide is very clear on this point. It saysThe key point is that only the Development Team can change the Sprint Backlog since it is their artifact. Conversely, the Product Owner owns the Product Backlog and is the only person who can change that.So the team should add, remove, and change things in the Sprint Backlog as the sprint progresses, work is completed, new facts are discovered, and so on.Keep in mind though that the changes should be discussed with the Product Owner (though they don’t need approval from them), and that they should still reflect the team’s understanding of the sprint goal. Changing the Sprint Backlog so that it no longer matches with the sprint goal is a serious decision that would need the agreement of the product owner, and could be grounds for canceling a sprint.Do we have to use tasks?Another myth is that the team must break the stories down into tasks as part of moving them into the Sprint Backlog in Sprint Planning. This is also not true! The Scrum Guide does not include the word “task” anywhere. The team finds its own best way of completing the work.What is the output of a sprint backlog?The output at the end of a sprint is a product increment (PI). A product increment is the sum of all the Sprint Backlog items which are “Done” at the end of the sprint, plus the outputs of all the previous increments in previous sprints.
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From Creation To Execution: How Sprint Backlog Helps Scrum Teams

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From Creation To Execution: How Sprint Backlog Helps Scrum Teams

Scrum is an agile way to accomplish the project, usually in software development. In Scrum, artifacts are the key information providers that are designed specifically to enhance transparency of key information required to ensure that the Scrum teams are successful in delivering a ‘Done’ increment. The Scrum Process Framework defines 3 essential artifacts:

  • Product Backlog
  • Sprint Backlog
  • Product Increment

In this article, we are going to see everything in detail about Sprint Backlog in Scrum. While being a simple concept, it is misunderstood by many people. This article will clear up the confusion and explain clearly what the Sprint Backlog is and how to use it. So, let’s take a look at the ultimate guide of the Scrum Sprint Backlog

What is a Sprint Backlog?

The Sprint Backlog is a set of all the product backlog items chosen for the current sprint, plus a plan for delivering the product increment and achieving the sprint goal. This plan takes the form of all the work required to get the backlog items to “Done” in that sprint.

The following video will explain how to create your first sprint backlog.

The Sprint Backlog is produced by the team in the Sprint Planning meeting. It is an outcome of that meeting and the Sprint Planning meeting should not conclude until the team has produced the Sprint Backlog in some form (though it can actually change after that, as I’ll explain below). Collated below is the anatomy of Scrum Sprint Backlog.

Steps for creating a better Sprint Backlog

Sprint Backlog is the output of the sprint planning meeting with the participation of every team member in the Scrum team. The process is as follows:

How to create a Sprint Backlog

There is another final step that many teams don’t do (and don’t know about!). As of the latest version of the Scrum Guide, the team must also add a continuous improvement item to the Sprint Backlog. This is an interesting and important change and will really encourage teams to take continuous improvement seriously (rather than as an afterthought). Make sure you don’t forget to do this with your teams!

Once produced, the team should make sure that the Sprint Backlog is visible to everyone. This ties in with the Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. It provides a clear, real-time view of the progress of the team in completion of the sprint goal and Product Increment.

How does the team plan the work?

Many people might now be wondering what a “plan” is. The answer is, it can be anything that the team comes up with to complete the product increment and complete the items in the Sprint Backlog. Some people do this by breaking them into tasks, which are estimated in hours. That’s fine, though it’s not mandated by Scrum.

Each team should find its own best way to plan and arrange the work. Scrum guide is very clear on this matter:

Team Plan Work Quotation

The figure below shows an example of how the development team plans the work to be done in the sprint for each user story.
how the development team plan the work to be done

So the Sprint Backlog will start off with some Product Backlog Items. The team can then add tasks, subtasks, designs, diagrams, whatever they like to the Sprint Backlog, as part of coming up with a plan to complete the work.

Can you change the Sprint Backlog?

Some people believe that the Sprint Backlog cannot be changed during the Sprint, that it is locked down when the sprint starts. This is totally untrue!

The Scrum Guide is very clear on this point. It says

Sprint backlog quotes

The key point is that only the Development Team can change the Sprint Backlog since it is their artifact. Conversely, the Product Owner owns the Product Backlog and is the only person who can change that.

Adding new required tasks to the sprint backlog

So the team should add, remove, and change things in the Sprint Backlog as the sprint progresses, work is completed, new facts are discovered, and so on.

Keep in mind though that the changes should be discussed with the Product Owner (though they don’t need approval from them), and that they should still reflect the team’s understanding of the sprint goal. Changing the Sprint Backlog so that it no longer matches with the sprint goal is a serious decision that would need the agreement of the product owner, and could be grounds for canceling a sprint.

Do we have to use tasks?
Another myth is that the team must break the stories down into tasks as part of moving them into the Sprint Backlog in Sprint Planning. This is also not true! The Scrum Guide does not include the word “task” anywhere. The team finds its own best way of completing the work.

What is the output of a sprint backlog?
The output at the end of a sprint is a product increment (PI). A product increment is the sum of all the Sprint Backlog items which are “Done” at the end of the sprint, plus the outputs of all the previous increments in previous sprints.

Leon

Leon Tranter

Blog Author

Leon Tranter has 13 years' experience in Information Technology and is passionate about Agile, Scrum, Lean and Kanban. He is a Certified Scrum Master, LeSS Practitioner, and coach in the XSCALE Alliance.“He writes about Agile, Scrum and Lean at Extreme Uncertainty

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Sanjeev 04 Aug 2018

Nice read..

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Scrum Master Job Descriptions and Responsibilities In Agile

Scrum stands out as one of the most dominant Agile frameworks used widely across the world. As per the ‘14th Annual State of Agile Report’ published by VersionOne, Scrum has 58% of the segment in the overall adoption of frameworks across the organizations globally. Not only has Scrum captured a large share in the industry, it is also easy to implement and brings about a more collaborative approach.   Scrum has three roles: product owner, scrum master and the development team members. It is these three roles that define the way a team works towards a single goal. Of the three roles, the role of the Scrum Master will be the focus of this article.We will talk about the qualities that make a successful Scrum master stand out from the crowd and discuss the major skill sets that employers seek from Scrum masters.Later, we will delve into how best to prepare for this role and how necessary it is for a Scrum master to possess technical knowledge related to the product or technology the team is working on. Finally, we will address how a Scrum Master can accelerate change and positively impact delivery in the team.  What is a Scrum Master?  Scrum Masters are facilitators of Scrum who act as servant leaders to drive the delivery in terms of process and product. As facilitators, scrum masters act as coaches to the rest of the team, “servant leaders” as the Scrum Guide puts it. Good scrum masters are committed to the scrum foundation and values, but remain flexible and open to opportunities for the team to improve their workflow. The Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. They do this by helping the team and the management understand the theory, practices, rules, and values of Scrum.  Roles of a Scrum Master  The scrum master is the role responsible for glueing everything together and ensuring that scrum is being done well. In practical terms, that means they help the product owner define value, the development team deliver the value, and the scrum team to get better. The scrum master is a servant leader which not only describes a supportive style of leadership but describes what they do on a day-to-day basis. The several ways that a Scrum master services the product owner, the Scrum Team and the organization are elaborated below:  The Scrum Master wears different hats to deliver results. The four main stances of a Scrum Master are explained below:  As a Facilitator The Scrum Master is a facilitator who makes sure the team is following the scrum events by serving and empowering the team in achieving their objectives. The person must be ‘neutral’ without taking sides in any conversation or meeting, at the same time, back everyone to do their best in intellectual and in practice. On the lines of facilitation, Lyssa Adkins provides a very apt statement:   A Scrum Master should facilitate by creating a "container" for the team to fill up with their ideas and innovations. The container, often a set of agenda questions or some other lightweight (and flexible) structure, gives the team just enough of a frame to stay on their purpose and promotes an environment for richer interaction, a place where fantastic ideas can be heard. The coach creates the container; the team creates the content. - Lyssa Adkins As a Coach The Scrum Master helps the team to understand the framework and accordingly coaches them for being self-organized and cross-functional. This person inspires an outlook of continuous improvement and Back the team in problem-solving and conflict resolution.   As a Servant Leader The term Servant Leader was originated by Robert K. Greenleaf, who described this term as “The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”  The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. - Robert K. Greenleaf  This person ‘leads by example’ and puts the team/individuals' needs on priority. They make sure they are setting the foundation of trust, honesty, transparency, and openness. At the same time, they are the leader whom the team can look up to.   As a Change Agent The scrum Master brings about the change in terms of process, practices, and ways of working. They act as a catalyst in the overall transformation to bring about the degree of change expected from an organization. They help the team follow the process along with helping the stakeholders understand the empirical process. They help the entire team to adopt processes and enhance the delivery.  Scrum myth: The scrum master must run the daily scrum. In fact, the scrum master does not run any of the events, just ensures they happen and that they are successful. Top Qualities of a Successful Scrum Master  As with other roles, there is a secret sauce that goes into making the Scrum Master successful. While every individual serving as a Scrum Master may bring along their own personalities and strengths to reinforce the role, there are a couple of must-have qualities which every individual donning the Scrum Master role must hone. Let’s take a quick look at these traits that can add a pinch of charm to the Scrum Master role.  Powerful Communicator: The Scrum Master needs to be very specific and clear on the communication they have with the team and with stakeholders. They must be aware of the right channels and when to use them. They should know how to influence teams for better results.  Inspires Ownership: A good Scrum Master helps the team to understand Agile principles and why the team can gain better results through the adoption of ownership. They help the team to take ownership of their tasks, their task board, process, and even small failures.  Read the Room: The Scrum Master should be able to understand and sense the temperature of the room. They should know when conflict is cropping up and how to deal with it smartly. This helps to build a culture of trust and transparency amongst the teams.  Impartial: The Scrum Master can become a star leader if they are neutral towards any situation or the individual. They focus on the problem rather on the individual. They know every individual is good and has the right intentions, it is just the situations that alter the way the team behaves. This not only helps in creating a rapport but also gives one the satisfaction of doing the right thing.   Scrum Master Job Description and Responsibilities  With the increase in demand for Scrum Masters globally, it is important to understand the job description. Every industry is different and so are their ways of working. While each organization may have their own versions of the job description for a Scrum Master as per their need in a project, we will take a closer look into the typical job description that organizations use.   Below are some of the common points you will usually find in an open position for a Scrum Master:  Standups: Organize daily stand-up meetings, facilitate, and plan other project meetings as required including demos as suitable.  Sprint reviews: Empower the team to become self-organized to consistently deliver on their sprint commitments.  Adoption of best practices: Ensure development teams enthusiastically apply core agile principles of collaboration, prioritization, accountability, and visibility.  Impediment removal: Responsible to address impediments that prevent successful development and testing of approved requirements.  Visualization of issues: Support team to detect barriers that prevent it from delivering features to the customers.  Agile master: Strong knowledge of Scrum philosophy, rules, practices, and other frameworks.  Understanding of the software development process: Familiarity with software development processes and measures to understand team requirements.  Process ownership: Harmonize scrum team with agile; collaborate with Leadership to ensure delivery teams practice Agile framework and software engineering best practices.  Stakeholder management: Work in partnership with Stakeholders, Product Managers, Business Analysts, and development managers to plan releases and manage a healthy product backlog  Metrics/reports: Endorse and present appropriate metrics to sustain continuous improvement to get the best out of each team. Report progress, team status, and issues across the board.  Transparency: Communicate development status to sponsors, participants, management, and teams. Shares weekly or bi-weekly reports to ensure everyone understands the current state.   Quality: Safeguard observance of quality standards and project deliverables. Understand principles to drive quality ethics and help in devising tools and practices for best end results.     How can I prepare for this role?  Donning the role of a Scrum Master is akin to heeding to an internal calling; the role requires a person to be patient, a good communicator, a good listener, and most of all emotionally intelligent. If you want to become a Scrum Master, make sure you understand the in-depth meaning of servant leadership. It is not just following the process and events that make up a Scrum Master, it is a huge role which requires leadership while serving the team. If this is your calling, then here are some steps you can take –   Start learning about Scrum and how effectively you can use its values and principles with your team  Start reading articles and blogs on best practices with success stories.  Prepare for the certification required to start your journey.  Make sure you have a mentor who can shape you well and can help you hone your skills  Continuously work on your communication and influencing skills.  Is it essential for a Scrum Master to possess technical knowledge?  Of late, we have started noticing many job postings where organizations specifically demand a Scrum Master who is technically sound and knows the in and out of the technology the team is working on. Traditionally, however, Scrum Master is a non-technical role where the focus is on improving the work culture, adopting Scrum/Agile and its best practices, and helping the teams to grow, become self-organized and high performing. While it is a good-to-have criterion, technical knowledge is not mandatory. But then again, it really depends on the organization and their need.  Get started with the Scrum Master role  If you want to help teams work effectively together and want to change the world with scrum and agile, then the scrum master role is for you. It is a very people-centric role with a heavy emphasis on coaching, teaching, and facilitation. The Scrum Master role can be a game-changer for project delivery. They help the team understand their true potential which most of the times teams themselves are not aware of, with the help of coaching, mentoring, and using engaging team activities that help in understanding the overall process and delivery.  The Scrum Master role is critical and needs to be handled with care as the stakes are high. This role has a high degree of accountability and responsibility towards the team, process, and organization which not only requires an open mindset but also a concern for the wellbeing of co-workers. If lived to its full potential, this role can build awesome high-performing teams that sustain hardships and efficiently draw learning out of every experience. Such teams are bound to succeed at every step, taking even failure as a step towards success. 
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Scrum Product Backlog and Agile Product Backlog Prioritization

The 21st century has witnessed a major surge in the adoption of Agile with organizations trying to fit into their ways of working to better meet customer demands. As per the 14th Annual State of Agile 2020, 58% of the respondents were using Scrum as the framework for product delivery. It has been noticed that Agile and Scrum are considered as the same thing. Scrum is a subset of Agile where Agile is a way or method of implementing frameworks like Scrum, Kanban, etc. Agile is a timeboxed, iterative way of software delivery focusing on faster time to market and customer collaboration. With a great framework like Scrum, Agile gets a runway to deliver quality products in an iterative, incremental, and timeboxed manner. Talking of product development, be it any framework, we start with the creation of the requirement list. The same applies to Agile too. Here, we term this as “Backlog”. I am often asked about the origin of the term, “Backlog”. Why “backlog” and why not some other word? Well, the term dates back to the 1680s when large logs were placed at the back of a fire to keep the blaze going and concentrate the heat. By the 1880s, the term was adopted in its figurative sense of "something stored up for later use". So, a Backlog is a prioritized list of items the teams’ need to work for the successful delivery of a product. How extensively are Scrum artifacts, and in particular, the product backlog and sprint backlog used? Source: 14th State of Agile 2020According to the State of Scrum 2015 report, surprisingly, only 56% of the respondents reported using extensive scrum artifacts like Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog. Major success criteria for any Agile project lie in its backlog and it demands a lot of focus both in terms of keeping it refined and updated with current situation. Thankfully, it is the topic of the day, and here we will talk more about it! Product Backlog  What is a Product Backlog? The Product Backlog is the ordered list of requirements of all that is required to successfully deliver it to the client. It contains the prioritized list of requirements that can be detailed or vague and has everything that needs to be done for a particular product. One can visualize it as a big bucket that has all the items/necessities needed for a product to be successful and competitive in nature.  Who owns the Product Backlog? The Product Backlog is primarily handled by the Product Owner who takes care of the client's needs and makes sure the product backlog represents the exact requirement. The product owner is responsible for keeping the backlog healthy and in a state that is readily consumable by the team. The product backlog is never frozen, the items can change as per the demand and market scenario. Anyone can suggest items to be added in the list but the final say will always be on the Product Owner.  Example of a Product Backlog Let’s look at an example to further understand it better: Build a mobile application for a local bank so that the users can access the bank on the go. Product Backlog would look like: S. No.RequirementPriority1Create a sign in page for the usersHigh2Create a logout pageHigh3Create a home page to land after successful sign in to the applicationHigh4Create a page for AccountsMedium5Create a page for Money TransferMedium6Create a page for LoansMedium7Create a page for User ProfileLow8Create a page for 'Contact Us' sectionLowThere can be multiple other requirements both front-end and back-end to get this mobile application delivered, but, here for understanding, we are just taking a few of them. Each item in the list will have a priority attached to it, this makes it easy for the development team to pick work once they are done with the one in hand. Product Backlog can also be termed as the master list of requirements. Sprint Backlog What is a Sprint Backlog? Sprint Backlog is a list derived from the product backlog or the master list. When teams start working in Scrum, they have sprints which are a timebox for delivery, it defines when a customer can expect the shipment and at what intervals. The period can range from a week to a months’ timeline. Here, in sprints, the team pulls the work from the product backlog as per the priority and their capacity and put it in a smaller bucket called ‘Sprint Backlog’. It is like delivering the big Product Backlog in chunks called “Sprint Backlog’. The Sprint Backlog can also be defined as a subset of superset ‘Product Backlog’. For a successful product delivery, both are essential, and hence the need to keep them healthy.  Who owns the Sprint Backlog? Sprint backlog is owned by the scrum team, and together, they create their sprint board which consists of the user stories, bugs (if any), and spikes. It is the development team who determines the Sprint Backlog. Here, the Scrum Master can facilitate the Sprint Planning meeting to help the team come up with the Sprint Backlog. The scrum team utilizes the sprint planning meeting to discuss on the sprint goal and the commitment they can make for the upcoming sprint. They pull the items to discuss from the top of the list and create their sprint backlog according to the capacity and complexity of parameters.  Example of a Sprint Backlog So, the sprint backlog is a subset of product backlog and going back to our example let's create a Sprint backlog now: S.No.RequirementPriority1Create a sign in page for the usersHigh2Create a logout pageHigh3Create a home page to land after successful sign-in to the applicationHighIn our example, we have pulled the sprint backlog items from the master list which was already in a prioritized state. Product Backlog vs Scrum Backlog: Understanding the difference The Scrum Master can help the development team understand the difference between Product Backlog and the Sprint Backlog, this can be done through coaching the teams about the process and the Scrum artifacts and can help the Product owner in maintaining a healthy backlog. The team uses Product Backlog to create their sprint backlog. During the Sprint planning meeting, the development team should talk about the complexity and the efforts needed to get the job done. They pull the items from the product backlog to the Sprint Backlog to be completed in the sprint time-box. How to create a more effective Product Backlog? Effective Product Backlog depends on a clear understanding of the result and the need. The Product Owner must clearly define the requirements that have details enough for the team to get a clear picture of what is needed to be done. The product backlog needs to be a thorough list of all the work that must be done to get the project delivered successfully. Once a high-level list is created, the development team can help in further refining and creating an exhaustive backlog with all the technical aspects needed to deliver the functional side. Creating a backlog should be a collective team effort, this also helps in bringing about the ownership and collaborative environment amongst the group. Though the development team can help the Product Owner in creating a proper efficient Product Backlog, the sole responsibility for the Product Backlog lies with the Product Owner. How to create a better Sprint Backlog? Once you have a good Product Backlog, pulling out the Sprint Backlog gets easy. Sprint Backlog gets its shape during the sprint planning meeting which is the first thing in a new iteration where the team sits together, either, physically or virtually, to discuss the requirements they can work on in a new sprint. Essentially the discussion circles the functionalities, the technical aspect around it, and how much they can load in an iteration. Here, the Scrum Master can help the team with excellent facilitation skills to come up with a sprint goal as a joint team effort. The team pulls up the highest priority items from the product backlog to discuss functionality and complexity, they also converse on the steps they could take to reach the goal. What are the benefits of Backlog prioritization? Prioritization is one of the critical aspects of a Product Backlog that helps in keeping it in a healthy state. Let’s look at a few of the benefits of prioritizing the backlog: Helps in the Sprint Planning with the story selection as the Product Backlog is already Prioritized. Better visibility to pull items during the iteration if the team has the bandwidth. Effective risk management due to pre-known issues during the grooming of the backlog Improved supervision of dependencies Early return of investment as the requirement follows value-based delivery.Conclusion In conclusion, we have seen that both the Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog are different entities tied together to the same group. It plays a crucial role in software delivery and helps the team deliver efficient solutions through effective backlog management tools and techniques. If the teams understand and use their backlog in a desired way, they can help the customers and the management in better delivery and gaining of new opportunities. 
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What is Agile? What is Scrum?

Over the decades, companies across the globe have been adopting different project management frameworks and methodologies they feel are best suited to the nature of work they do. Be it IT, healthcare, fast-moving consumer goods, electronics, or automobile, organizations across domains adopt frameworks that enable them to achieve their organizational goals and best fulfil their customers’ needs.  Much before the birth of the term ‘Agile’, several project management practices like Waterfall, Kanban and XP were being followed. However, there was a wide dissatisfaction with the rigidity of some of these practices. Over the years, academicians and leaders in the industry began to discuss the need for processes that would give them more flexibility and enable them to ship software on time.  After much planning, seventeen innovative industry leaders, many of them from the software community,gathered in February of 2001 at the famous Snowbird Ski Retreat at the Wasatch mountains of Utah, US. This small, three-day retreat ended up shaping much of software is imagined, created, and delivered - and probably even how the world works. What is Agile Methodology? Agile is a mindset, a methodology that provides different frameworks working in an iterative and incremental manner to arrive at a solution.The Agile methodology focuses on creating a red-carpet, a smooth path for teams to work and deliver exceptional results to satisfy customer needs. Over the last two decades, the Agile methodology has dominated the IT industry in a big way. Not only is the Agile methodology customer focused, but it also helps teams to scale up, learn and grow. There was a time when organizations thought about Agile as a fairy-tale wand, something that could magically fix all their problems. Thankfully, with much help fromthe Agile front-liners, the enchanted fairy dust has now evaporated. People now understand that it indeed takes a lot of effort, awareness, coaching, and dedication to fix problems through Agile. Like any other method, Agile too takes time, but if applied in its true sense, the results can be very fulfilling. The Magic Potion: Agile Values and Principles With the coining of the term ‘Agile’, its foundation was laid, the beautiful truth on how to move forward and abide by the rules and values of Agile. At the Snowbird retreat, the seventeen leaders put together a manifesto. The Agile Manifesto is unique among typical manifestos in that it does not declare truths self-evident. Rather, it compares: We value this over that. Image: At the Snowbird retreat in 2001, 17 leaders came together to "uncover better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it". The Agile Manifesto was thus born.At Snowbird, the leaders began to lay out what they had in common and when they compared how they did their work, they were amazed at the things that were the same. They went on to finalize the four lines of the manifesto which forms the backbone of all the frameworks that come under the Agile umbrella. Every line has deep meaning associated with it and you will be surprised by its wide-spread relevance across domains. So, what is the Agile manifesto? The preamble reads, “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.” It then lays out the four core values: The document concludes that “while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.” Although the words can be interpreted differently, the basic gist is this: Put people over process. Focus on making software that works, not documents about that software. Work with your client rather than fight over a contract. And along the way, be open to change. With the above four core values, the authors also devised twelve principles that help teams to understand and adopt Agile as their way of working. Even if teams are yet to learn how to use any of the frameworks or how to work around the ceremonies, if they understand and adopt the four values and twelve principles, the battle is won. What are the various Agile Methodologies? Under the overarching Agile umbrella, many frameworks operate and cater to different industries and market needs. Let us look at some of the most widely used Agile frameworks: ScrumScrum is an incremental and iterative way of working in a time-boxed manner to solve complex adaptive problems. It is a widely used approach as per the 14th Annual Report by VersionOne and has 58% on the total market share in terms of framework adoption. KanbanIt is a concept of a scheduling system for lean manufacturing and just-in-time manufacturing. Derived from a Japanese word, it signifies a signboard or the physical board with lanes to track the activity. This system helps to improve and optimize the flow of work items.  XP (Extreme Programming)Originated by Kent Beck, Extreme Programming is a software development methodology conceived to improve the quality of the product and its capability to suitably adjust to the shifting needs of the stakeholders. It is a set of engineering practices. FDD (Feature Driven Development)It is customer-centric, iterative, and incremental, to deliver tangible software results often and efficiently. FDD in Agile encourages status reporting at all levels, which helps to track progress and results.  DSDM (Dynamic System Development Method)This has been developed to work on usual problems confronted by projects such as late delivery, rate overruns or the final outcome not being accepted by the clients. It is an Agile-based approach that is collaborative and flexible, yet remaining attentive on reaching goals and sustaining the suitable level of excellence and consistency.  What is the Scrum Methodology? Scrum is an agile project management framework that revolves around an incremental and iterative approach where the focus is on delivering increments in a time-boxed manner. Scrum supports the collaborative approach of working towards a solution and is based on the Agile Manifesto and principles. The Scrum framework comprises of: Three rolesScrum Master, development team and the product owner Scrum EventsSprint Planning, Daily Standup, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. ArtifactsProduct Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Task-Board, Burndown charts, Sprint Goal  Agile vs. Scrum: Similarities and Differences While Agile provides an umbrella for different frameworks that share common values and principles as prescribed by the Agile Manifesto, Scrum is a subset of Agile and has inherited the foundation and beliefs from its superset. Let us look at some of the similarities and differences between Agile and Scrum: AreaAgileScrumIs a Mindset/philosophyYesIs a FrameworkYesHas events/ceremoniesYesHas ValuesYesYesHas defined rolesYesFocus on Continuous ImprovementYesYesFocus on Faster DeliveryYesYesTransparencyYesYesCustomer SatisfactionYesYesBest practices in Agile Though Agile has certain principles and values to define how teams should function, it is also necessary to adhere to the best practices to get the finest implementation of the methodology. Here are some of them: Deliver in IncrementsIncrementing helps the teams and stakeholders stay in control of the development step-by-step. They discover and refine the backlog as they move forward rather than create a huge backlog upfront as was the case traditionally.  Frequent InteractionsCommunication is the key to success. The more collaboratively the team works along with the client, the more the satisfaction on both ends. This helps to meet the expected requirements and greater clarity on the next assignment. ReflectionIt is critical to introspect as an individual and retrospect as a team to see how they are functioning and what can be improved to make it much better. Best Practices in Scrum With extensive use of Scrum, organizations now have their own success stories along with a bundle of learning on what went well and where they had to struggle. This paved way for expanding the list of best practices one can follow to stay on track with the framework. To list out few: StoryBoardHave a live storyboard, let the team update their deliverables. The Scrum Master can help the team understand the value they can derive from it. Productive EventsStick to the agenda of the scrum ceremonies, make it timeboxed Capacity PlanningPlan your sprint as per the available capacity so that the teams are not overburdened. BlockersMake the impediments very much visible to all the stakeholders and the management. Backlog ManagementEffectively manage the backlog, as much as possible, refine, and prioritize. Strong AtmosphereCreate a collaborative healthy environment where the individuals can voice out their concerns. ImprovementContinuously improve the way team interacts and communicates with the clients Mirror Your workBe transparent and honest with the metrics and burndown charts amongst the team Follow scrum valuesThey really help in the long run. And last, but not the least, be agile! Conclusion Every framework is different and applying each one in the right spirit and context is the key to success.The Agile methodology is a fantastic way of working and is helpful to everyone involved. Best of all, it aims to help individuals attain their highest potential in terms of capacity and capability.  It is worthwhile reiterating that Agile is not limited to software development; it is a mindset and a way of life. And with the world constantly adapting to newer ways of working, Agile is the way to go
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What is Agile? What is Scrum?

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