When I started my Agile journey, I was very much apprehensive about Scrum, because till now we experienced the comfort zone with the implementation of Waterfall methodology, even if it made us fail! Maybe that’s how we human beings are. We feel uneasy with the new changes around us as that changes need to implement from scratch.
Looking at the market scenario two years back, there was a survey done by Version One which shows, 58% of the organizations adopted Scrum as their framework to work on the products, today, Scrum has expanded in its share in the market and is being widely used, and moreover, teams are now customizing it as per their need.
Let’s see what is Scrum, exactly – in a simple language – it is a way of delivering quality product iteratively and incrementally in a time-box fashion. This is a simple illustration of what the Scrum implementors and others define it, moving with it, why not just explore what they say too-
“Scrum is a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.”
“Scrum is an agile way to manage a project, usually software development. Agile software development with Scrum is often perceived as a methodology; but rather than viewing Scrum as methodology, think of it as a framework for managing a process.”
To set this framework up, we need some roles to support this process, the roles include:
The Scrum Master supports the team in boosting and streamlining the processes by which they can accomplish their objectives. They also shield the team from both internal and external interferences.
The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the products produced, they are the owners of the product backlog and makes sure that the backlog is healthy and prioritized.
The Development team is one who creates the product as a whole, they are actually involved in the coding, testing etc, to make sure a quality product is delivered in a time-boxed manner. They are self-organizing, cross-functional team of people who together are responsible for all of the work necessary to produce a working software or product.
Interestingly, there are reasons behind the popularity of Scrum framework in the technological market, let us look at some-
Though we have talked a lot about the benefits that Scrum provides, one must not mistake this as a magic wand that can cure all the problems. There might be scenarios where Agile is not a good fit for your product. It is really important to understand if Agile is the way to go for your product or not!
There are many scenarios when we can say that Agile is all we need, to quote some, frequent requirement changes, it is not essential to expend months documenting requirements that may or may not result in what the client wants or is looking for.
Next big reason can be, management support for the Agile framework and its philosophy of enabling teams. When we talk about adopting Agile, it is not just a bottom-up approach rather it should go in all directions and more focused from top-to-bottom. If the top management is aligned with the change and merge it with their goals, it will work wonders!
Now that we have gone past through the evaluation of Agile adoption, let’s move back quickly to the discussion we originally started with – Scrum!!
What if you are asked to implement Scrum for your product? How comfortable will you be to go ahead with this move? I know you might be thinking of all those points that might go into this, no problem, let’s look at it together. For moving about how to implement Scrum, there are few pre-requisites which you are already aware of:
This is a very essential step in Scrum implementation. To start this up, you have to identify your product owner who can actively work with the Stakeholders and create a product backlog which contains requirements that can deliver value and also are prioritized as per the market need. A Product Owner takes up the ownership of the product backlog. A product backlog usually comprises two kinds of work items:
During the development phase, the teams might encounter some requirements which were not covered in the backlog but are needed, so the team has all the rights to add items on the backlog but only the product can prioritize them.
Defining a Scrum team is again a crucial step, as this is the team who is required to work closely bound and deliver a quality product. The team will comprise of 5-9 team members which include developers, testers, support, designers, business analysts, etc. All the members in a team will work towards a common goal as set in the commitment.
Usually, we strive for creating a cross-functional and self-organizing team, getting the former is quite easy and doable but don’t worry if making them self-organized is taking time. Don’t panic, it really takes a lot of effort and time to churn out a self-organized team!
So far, we have the product backlog and the team to work on it, but, where is the person who will make all this go smoothly without interruptions, who will make sure the team is encouraged and being involved productively, who will make sure the team realizes their potential, (the list is pretty long ….).
In short, let’s get a Scrum Master. The Scrum Master ensures that the Scrum team is effective and progressive. The person will help the team in planning the work for the coming sprints.
When we talk about Scrum, we talk about Sprints. A sprint is a time-box for the Scrum team to commit and deliver items in a short span of time. It usually ranges between a week to a month, whatever the length has been locked for the team, it stays the same throughout. The Sprint starts with a commitment from a team on the backlog items, they develop, code, test, etc. and provide a demonstration at the end of the Sprint. The Sprint closes with the retrospective ceremony where the team reflects on what went well and how can they improve further.
The Sprint starts with the first gear – Sprint Planning – here the team picks items from the list (typically from the top in the backlog). They set their Sprint goal and start working on the items, during the course of the Sprint, the team will regroup each day for a quick meetup called Daily Standup/Daily Scrum to talk about their progress and if there’s anything blocking their path of delivery.
Once in a while, they will stop by, to talk about the next inline items for the upcoming sprint which is called the Backlog Grooming/Story Time. On the closure day, the team will demo the items they have worked on to the Stakeholders or the Product Owner. The Sprint gets over with the last regrouping called the Retrospective where they inspect how they did and work on the ideas to make it better by adapting to it.
It is really important to measure our success and failures, it gives us a chance to improve. This applies to Scrum as well. Here, we talk about our burndown charts, yes, these charts can be compared to the ultrasounds or the X-rays we have, they show how we did as a team, anyone can read out the issues and the brownies from our charts. The Scrum Master can understand, just by looking at the burndown, how the team did, the scope change, the blockers and how the team adapted to the new environment. It should be one of the goals for a team to reach Zero by the end of the Sprint in the chart.
Overall, I can say, Scrum is really effective if implemented with the right spirit and the focused direction. There’s a Scrum implementation plan which has to be laid out. We have many success stories where Scrum helped the teams deliver the products on time with customer delight.
The dynamic participation, teamwork, and collaboration in Scrum Teams make for a more pleasant place to work and most importantly if your teams are happy, they will go to any lengths to make your customer happy.
I have been working with the Scrum teams since last 10 years and I must say, they are more contented. So it’s not just about the product or the organization, it is also about the ‘PEOPLE’, it is about us!
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