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What Does Metrics Mean For Agile Teams

Most of the places I have worked, I spent a lot of time in measuring multiple dimensions of software for the entire lifecycle of the product. Many try to see what is the “best practice” in the industry and put a wrapper on them to make their own metrics. I have been thinking for a while on what makes sense, and is there a silver bullet like the Grand Unified Theory. While at it, it looks to me that we are trying to contain ourselves in one direction in as chaotic as a place of Software Product Development. Organizations tend to copy “what worked for them” without even caring for the constraints and conditions that the specific metric worked for “them”. Then, what to measure? In my view, organizations which have understood what and how much to measure a products usefulness, have survived and thrived. These have eventually emerged as the Agile organizations. When they have multiple products, they have different lenses for each of them as well. Some products will need a lot of statistics and data while some may need only a few! And, how do you arrive at what to measure? For me the closest guide is 7th principle from Agile Manifesto “Working software is the primary measure of progress”. If you can define what is the working software for you, it becomes easier to measure the progress. Again, each one in their role, see the “working software” in a different way. Hence it becomes very important to have a holistic view of who is the customer, who is the builder, who is the sponsor and who manages the process. Let us try to think from each perspective.  Note: These thoughts for building a product or service should only serve as a starting point and none of them are given in any order of preference. “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams” and so does the metrics and measurement.  Before proceeding to a detailed discussion on the metrics for product owners, investors and developers, let us quickly go through the essential Scrum metrics. Business/Product Owner/Product Manager In a functional Agile team, this role is primarily responsible for understanding the market and synthesizing the data. They have “Hypothesis” around what makes the organization profitable. When all they are working with is a hypothesis and not much of clarity, they will be interested in forward looking metrics. The following could be the measures they need: 1. Cost of Delay: Cost of Delay is "a way of communicating the impact of time on the outcomes we hope to achieve". More formally, it is the total expected value with respect to time. Cost of Delay combines an understanding of value with how that value leaks away over time. It is the answer to the question: "What would it cost us if this was delayed by 1 month?". Or, alternatively, "what would it be worth to us if we could get this 1 month earlier?" 2. Product Market Fit : Product/market fit is the degree to which a product satisfies a strong market demand. Product/market fit is the first step to building a successful venture in which the company meets early adopters, gathers feedback and gauges interest in its product(s). 3. Riskiest Assumption Test (RAT): A Riskiest Assumption Test is explicit. There is no need to build more than what’s required to test your largest unknown. No expectation of perfect code or design.  4. Minimum Viable Product (MVP): The version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort. It is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development. 5. Minimum Marketable Product (MMP):  MMP is based on the idea that less is more. It describes the product with the smallest possible feature set that addresses the needs of the initial users (innovators and early adopters), and can hence be marketed and/or sold. The MMP is a tool to reduce time-to-market: It can be launched more quickly than a fat, feature-rich one. 6. Cycle Time:  Cycle time is the total time from the beginning to the end of your process, as defined by you and your customer. Cycle time includes process time, during which a unit is acted upon to bring it closer to an output, and delay time, during which a unit of work is spent waiting to take the next action.   The “Product” group should have a mechanism to understand and keep an eye on the metrics that are important to Sponsors/Investors as well. This will make sure the loop is closed and any suggestion to “Pivot” is indicated by them.    Sponsor/Investor  Interestingly, this group has interest in the same metrics that are used by Business/Product Managers before the product is launched. I am inclined to use thoughts from “lean start-up” as they are more “actionable” and not “vanity metrics”. During and after the product launch, the following are the measurement/information they will be most interested in: 1. Employee Satisfaction: Happier and motivated employees make sure they keep the customer happy and engaged. Employee satisfaction is the terminology used to describe whether employees are happy and fulfilling their desires and needs at work. Employee satisfaction is a factor in employee motivation, employee goal achievement, and positive employee morale in the workplace. 2. Viral coefficient: A viral coefficient is a number which tells you how many customers each is your present customer bringing to you on an average. So this means if your viral coefficient is 2 then each of your current customer is bringing in 2 customers to your business. This metric calculates the exponential referral cycle, sometimes called virality, that accelerates company growth. Virality is the inherent incentive for customers to refer friends or colleagues to your company. 3. Sunk Costs: In economics and business decision-making, a sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. Sunk costs (also known as retrospective costs) are sometimes contrasted with prospective costs, which are future costs that may be incurred or changed if an action is taken. 4. Viral Cycle Time: Viral cycle time is the time it takes for one such cycle to complete. In other words, viral cycle time is the amount of time it takes for a user to invite another user. 5. Net Promoter Score: Net Promoter or Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a management tool that can be used to gauge the loyalty of a firm's customer relationships. It serves as an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research and claims to be correlated with revenue growth.  The Net Promoter Score is calculated based on responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? The scoring for this answer is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale. Those who respond with a score of 9 to 10 are called Promoters. Those who respond with a score of 0 to 6 are labelled Detractors. Responses of 7 and 8 are labelled Passives, and their behavior falls in the middle of Promoters and Detractors. The Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are Detractors from the percentage of customers who are Promoters. For purposes of calculating a Net Promoter Score, Passives count towards the total number of respondents, thus decreasing the percentage of detractors and promoters and pushing the net score towards 0. 6. Customer Happiness Index (CHI): Instead of using NPS, the organization could also create a Customer Happiness Index of its own including the parameters it wants to measure. This approach has a benefit, as the organization has to “talk to the customer” and can understand the parameters that are necessary for its context. 7. % Paying Customers: Understanding the demography of how many people are using the paid product/services in the overall customer base helps us to understand the market better. 8. Conversion Rate: The gist of the funnel is that you start with people who are suspects, who then convert to prospects then convert leads which convert into sales. The percent conversion at each step is calculated. The overall conversion rate of a sales funnel is determined by taking the number of sales divided by number of suspects times 100. 9. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC):  CAC can be calculated by simply dividing all the costs spent on acquiring more customers (marketing expenses) by the number of customers acquired in the period the money was spent. For example, if a company spent $100 on marketing in a year and acquired 100 customers in the same year, their CAC is $1.00. 10. Customer Stickiness: Customer stickiness is the increased chance to utilize the same product or service that was bought in the last time period.  Developer/Builder Sadly, we try to measure everything here. While the measures and metrics here give you an indication of “are we building it right?”, it doesn’t guarantee “are we building the right thing”. It is vital for a developers to know the metric they are getting along with having a view of all other metrics we talked about till now. The metric we use here, should always supplement the metrics that we talked about. This is something the Agile methodologies have rightly incorporated.  This group is technology oriented and hence, the metrics are more technical in nature as well.  Some of the metrics that could help understanding “building it right” are: 1. Health of CI/CD pipeline: Are the builds happening right? Are they fast enough for the teams to experiment often?  2. Number of Green builds per day/week : Discipline within the team, so as to get code checked in daily, and builds are made often. The team can work in small batches as they know that the last logical piece of code they have submitted is working.   3. % of green builds : To continue, not just the number of builds are important, but also how many of them were good. A good developer doesn’t want others to be stuck because of him/her. 4. Unit Test Coverage: Adherence to Agile Test Pyramid is the only way to be in the fast zone of Product Development. The Unit Tests should comprise ~80% of all tests and an essential part of building the quality-in.  5. Code Coverage: Code coverage is a term to describe which application code is exercised when the application is running. Measuring code coverage is a technique for understanding exactly which application code is being exercised.  6. Non-Functional Test Coverage: It is essential to understand the non-functional requirements, called often as “ility tests” (usability, accessibility, reliability etc.) as they help in understanding what the customers or market don’t explicitly ask for.  7. Benchmarking of NFR’s: Benchmarking is an important part of understanding where we can reach. It could be against customer wishes or against industry standards. When we understand the current measures, we can aim/plan or negotiate the future measures. 8. Defects found per unit of Unit/Functional/Integration Test: While the number of defects might not indicate anything substantial, they do slow us down in building. If we can find a pattern or the magnitude, planning for releases becomes easy and market commitments live their date. 9. Number of defects per feature from Production/UAT/Customer: Feature is what customers pay for in most cases. Understanding the important features and making sure they are built with quality makes developers and builders of the system to concentrate more on where it matters.  10.Defects that can be lived with: Not all defects kill you! Pay attention to the most important ones and spend as less time as possible with the other ones. When delivering often is the necessity for a system/product/service, perfection is not always an answer and asked for as well.  11. Rework: Unknowingly we spend a lot of time on rework, which can well be utilized for the “work”. Practices like Split-testing, Pair Work (E.g. : Dev-Test, Test-Documentation etc. working in pair), having separate environments, testing and fixing with Developer can help the teams avoid the cost of late defect fixes.  Customer/User The person for whom we are building a solution is also a part of the system. The customers may or may not understand any of the numbers, measurements and metrics. They want their problems to be solved in a simplistic way, without learning too many things in the process. We should not be adding more stress to them. The organizations or entrepreneurs who understand the above statement and work towards that will succeed and thrive!!! Five #agile metrics you won't hate... and the anti-patterns to watch for: https://t.co/FkaX8fmZoR pic.twitter.com/8Xs3mYdrRg — Atlassian Jira (@Jira) December 28, 2015   Summary We may or may not be able to demarcate different roles as I have done here in the real world. Care has to be taken to understand “what”, “when” and “how much” to measure depending on the circumstances a product/service works. Most of the measures talked about links us back to the customer and it is thoroughly essential that we take that view from the first step we take towards building a product or service.   

What Does Metrics Mean For Agile Teams

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What Does Metrics Mean For Agile Teams

Most of the places I have worked, I spent a lot of time in measuring multiple dimensions of software for the entire lifecycle of the product. Many try to see what is the “best practice” in the industry and put a wrapper on them to make their own metrics. I have been thinking for a while on what makes sense, and is there a silver bullet like the Grand Unified Theory.

While at it, it looks to me that we are trying to contain ourselves in one direction in as chaotic as a place of Software Product Development. Organizations tend to copy “what worked for them” without even caring for the constraints and conditions that the specific metric worked for “them”.

Then, what to measure? In my view, organizations which have understood what and how much to measure a products usefulness, have survived and thrived. These have eventually emerged as the Agile organizations. When they have multiple products, they have different lenses for each of them as well. Some products will need a lot of statistics and data while some may need only a few!

And, how do you arrive at what to measure? For me the closest guide is 7th principle from Agile Manifesto “Working software is the primary measure of progress”. If you can define what is the working software for you, it becomes easier to measure the progress.

Again, each one in their role, see the “working software” in a different way. Hence it becomes very important to have a holistic view of who is the customer, who is the builder, who is the sponsor and who manages the process. Let us try to think from each perspective. 

Note: These thoughts for building a product or service should only serve as a starting point and none of them are given in any order of preference. “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams” and so does the metrics and measurement. 

Before proceeding to a detailed discussion on the metrics for product owners, investors and developers, let us quickly go through the essential Scrum metrics.

Business/Product Owner/Product Manager

In a functional Agile team, this role is primarily responsible for understanding the market and synthesizing the data. They have “Hypothesis” around what makes the organization profitable. When all they are working with is a hypothesis and not much of clarity, they will be interested in forward looking metrics. The following could be the measures they need:

1. Cost of Delay: Cost of Delay is "a way of communicating the impact of time on the outcomes we hope to achieve". More formally, it is the total expected value with respect to time. Cost of Delay combines an understanding of value with how that value leaks away over time.

It is the answer to the question: "What would it cost us if this was delayed by 1 month?". Or, alternatively, "what would it be worth to us if we could get this 1 month earlier?"

2. Product Market Fit : Product/market fit is the degree to which a product satisfies a strong market demand. Product/market fit is the first step to building a successful venture in which the company meets early adopters, gathers feedback and gauges interest in its product(s).

3. Riskiest Assumption Test (RAT): A Riskiest Assumption Test is explicit. There is no need to build more than what’s required to test your largest unknown. No expectation of perfect code or design. 

4. Minimum Viable Product (MVP): The version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort. It is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development.

5. Minimum Marketable Product (MMP):  MMP is based on the idea that less is more. It describes the product with the smallest possible feature set that addresses the needs of the initial users (innovators and early adopters), and can hence be marketed and/or sold. The MMP is a tool to reduce time-to-market: It can be launched more quickly than a fat, feature-rich one.

6. Cycle Time:  Cycle time is the total time from the beginning to the end of your process, as defined by you and your customer. Cycle time includes process time, during which a unit is acted upon to bring it closer to an output, and delay time, during which a unit of work is spent waiting to take the next action.
 
The “Product” group should have a mechanism to understand and keep an eye on the metrics that are important to Sponsors/Investors as well. This will make sure the loop is closed and any suggestion to “Pivot” is indicated by them.   

Sponsor/Investor 

Interestingly, this group has interest in the same metrics that are used by Business/Product Managers before the product is launched. I am inclined to use thoughts from “lean start-up” as they are more “actionable” and not “vanity metrics”. During and after the product launch, the following are the measurement/information they will be most interested in:

1. Employee Satisfaction: Happier and motivated employees make sure they keep the customer happy and engaged. Employee satisfaction is the terminology used to describe whether employees are happy and fulfilling their desires and needs at work. Employee satisfaction is a factor in employee motivation, employee goal achievement, and positive employee morale in the workplace.

2. Viral coefficient: A viral coefficient is a number which tells you how many customers each is your present customer bringing to you on an average. So this means if your viral coefficient is 2 then each of your current customer is bringing in 2 customers to your business. This metric calculates the exponential referral cycle, sometimes called virality, that accelerates company growth. Virality is the inherent incentive for customers to refer friends or colleagues to your company.

3. Sunk Costs: In economics and business decision-making, a sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. Sunk costs (also known as retrospective costs) are sometimes contrasted with prospective costs, which are future costs that may be incurred or changed if an action is taken.

4. Viral Cycle Time: Viral cycle time is the time it takes for one such cycle to complete. In other words, viral cycle time is the amount of time it takes for a user to invite another user.

5. Net Promoter Score: Net Promoter or Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a management tool that can be used to gauge the loyalty of a firm's customer relationships. It serves as an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research and claims to be correlated with revenue growth. 

The Net Promoter Score is calculated based on responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? The scoring for this answer is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale.

Those who respond with a score of 9 to 10 are called Promoters. Those who respond with a score of 0 to 6 are labelled Detractors. Responses of 7 and 8 are labelled Passives, and their behavior falls in the middle of Promoters and Detractors. The Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are Detractors from the percentage of customers who are Promoters. For purposes of calculating a Net Promoter Score, Passives count towards the total number of respondents, thus decreasing the percentage of detractors and promoters and pushing the net score towards 0.

6. Customer Happiness Index (CHI): Instead of using NPS, the organization could also create a Customer Happiness Index of its own including the parameters it wants to measure. This approach has a benefit, as the organization has to “talk to the customer” and can understand the parameters that are necessary for its context.

7. % Paying Customers: Understanding the demography of how many people are using the paid product/services in the overall customer base helps us to understand the market better.

8. Conversion Rate: The gist of the funnel is that you start with people who are suspects, who then convert to prospects then convert leads which convert into sales. The percent conversion at each step is calculated. The overall conversion rate of a sales funnel is determined by taking the number of sales divided by number of suspects times 100.

9. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC):  CAC can be calculated by simply dividing all the costs spent on acquiring more customers (marketing expenses) by the number of customers acquired in the period the money was spent. For example, if a company spent $100 on marketing in a year and acquired 100 customers in the same year, their CAC is $1.00.

10. Customer Stickiness: Customer stickiness is the increased chance to utilize the same product or service that was bought in the last time period. 

Developer/Builder

Sadly, we try to measure everything here. While the measures and metrics here give you an indication of “are we building it right?”, it doesn’t guarantee “are we building the right thing”. It is vital for a developers to know the metric they are getting along with having a view of all other metrics we talked about till now. The metric we use here, should always supplement the metrics that we talked about. This is something the Agile methodologies have rightly incorporated. 

This group is technology oriented and hence, the metrics are more technical in nature as well. 

Some of the metrics that could help understanding “building it right” are:

1. Health of CI/CD pipeline: Are the builds happening right? Are they fast enough for the teams to experiment often? 

2. Number of Green builds per day/week : Discipline within the team, so as to get code checked in daily, and builds are made often. The team can work in small batches as they know that the last logical piece of code they have submitted is working.  

3. % of green builds : To continue, not just the number of builds are important, but also how many of them were good. A good developer doesn’t want others to be stuck because of him/her.

4. Unit Test Coverage: Adherence to Agile Test Pyramid is the only way to be in the fast zone of Product Development. The Unit Tests should comprise ~80% of all tests and an essential part of building the quality-in. 

5. Code Coverage: Code coverage is a term to describe which application code is exercised when the application is running. Measuring code coverage is a technique for understanding exactly which application code is being exercised. 

6. Non-Functional Test Coverage: It is essential to understand the non-functional requirements, called often as “ility tests” (usability, accessibility, reliability etc.) as they help in understanding what the customers or market don’t explicitly ask for. 

7. Benchmarking of NFR’s: Benchmarking is an important part of understanding where we can reach. It could be against customer wishes or against industry standards. When we understand the current measures, we can aim/plan or negotiate the future measures.

8. Defects found per unit of Unit/Functional/Integration Test: While the number of defects might not indicate anything substantial, they do slow us down in building. If we can find a pattern or the magnitude, planning for releases becomes easy and market commitments live their date.

9. Number of defects per feature from Production/UAT/Customer: Feature is what customers pay for in most cases. Understanding the important features and making sure they are built with quality makes developers and builders of the system to concentrate more on where it matters. 

10.Defects that can be lived with: Not all defects kill you! Pay attention to the most important ones and spend as less time as possible with the other ones. When delivering often is the necessity for a system/product/service, perfection is not always an answer and asked for as well. 

11. Rework: Unknowingly we spend a lot of time on rework, which can well be utilized for the “work”. Practices like Split-testing, Pair Work (E.g. : Dev-Test, Test-Documentation etc. working in pair), having separate environments, testing and fixing with Developer can help the teams avoid the cost of late defect fixes. 

Customer/User
The person for whom we are building a solution is also a part of the system. The customers may or may not understand any of the numbers, measurements and metrics. They want their problems to be solved in a simplistic way, without learning too many things in the process. We should not be adding more stress to them.
The organizations or entrepreneurs who understand the above statement and work towards that will succeed and thrive!!!

 

Summary

We may or may not be able to demarcate different roles as I have done here in the real world. Care has to be taken to understand “what”, “when” and “how much” to measure depending on the circumstances a product/service works. Most of the measures talked about links us back to the customer and it is thoroughly essential that we take that view from the first step we take towards building a product or service. 
 

Ashwinee

Ashwinee Kalkura

Blog Author

Ashwinee Kalkura's qualifications include SPC4, PMP, CSM, CSP, SA, SASM, SSM, ICP-ACC and SSGB professional certifications. He has a progressive experience of 16 years in Networking, Mobile and Retail industry and multiple methodologies. Ashwinee is currently working as Head of Agile & SAFe consulting at KnowledgeHut. He has delivered SAFe training for 450+ candidates in APAC region.

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Instead, one must attempt to form close relationships with the team and understand the workings of the team and the organizations before passing judgement. Ability to Have Tough Conversations :  You as a Scrum Master are often seen as a problem solver, friend and mentor. But don’t let this image of yours come in the way of making tough decisions or having tough conversations. As a Scrum Master you must have the courage to do the right thing and if this means having difficult but necessary conversations with either the team members, the product owner or the stakeholders, then you must do it.    Courage to Protect the Team:  More often than not, there are unreasonable demands made on the development team. The Scrum Master should have the courage to protect the team and say an emphatic ‘no’ to the Product Owner or the stakeholders.  Accountability: You are accountable for your team’s success as you are for its failures. If as a Scrum Master you want your team to be accountable then the best way to get them to do that is to be accountable yourself. You can do this by being more invested in the day-to-day activities of the team and considering yourself to be a part of the team as well.  Support for Team Members: As a Scrum Master you are not just invested in the project but also in the growth of individual team members. You should motivate, encourage and support your team members to grow and reach heights in their careers.   Deep Commitment: If the team feels that the Scrum Master is committed to the project, committed to the team and committed to the team members, then they are more likely to be open and transparent with the Scrum Master. This trust with the team has to be built so that team members can be open about the challenges they face. The Scrum Master is the voice of the team and must support them at all stages.   Focus on Improvement:  Scrum is all about continuous improvement and the success of the Scrum Master is also tied to the continuous improvement of the Scrum team. If your team is getting better with time then you are doing well as a Scrum Master. From daily sprints to retrospectives, the Scrum Master provides avenues for the team to improve itself, identify problems and suggest solutions to work better.  Conclusion Scrum is the most used Agile framework, yet there are several lessons that organizations need to learn about Scrum before they embark on a transformation journey. This lightweight and easy to use framework can turn around the fortunes of companies if implemented in the right way. It’s important for an organization’s culture to be ready to accept and implement Scrum for project and organizational success.  
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Why Scrum Is Lightweight; Simple To Understand; Di...

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Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servant-Leader!

The term servant leader is synonymous with a Scrum Master. But what does it mean? The Scrum Master is a servant leader in Agile projects, but servant leadership goes far beyond Agile, and Scrum Masters serve more than just the team.In this blog we attempt to look at the Scrum Master’s role as a servant leader, what the role entails and the responsibilities of the Scrum Master beyond the team, in context to the organization. What is servant-leadership?The term servant leadership was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in his article “The Servant as Leader”, in which he defined a servant leader as: The Servant-Leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That leader significantly differs from one who is leader first, may be due to the need to acquire power, material belonging, control and authority within the organization. Servant leadership is something very different from traditional leadership, which places the leader at the top of the hierarchy and the employees in the lower rung. Servant leadership, in a sense, is the opposite of traditional leadership, as it places the leader at the bottom of the hierarchy while employees are on the higher rungs. The leaders, in this case, are serving the people above them. Servant leadership refers to leaders who believe in serving people and the community that they are a part of, rather than accumulating power for themselves. This style of leadership emphasizes on helping subordinates better themselves, empowering employees and helping others perform to the best of their abilities.Servant leadership does not prescribe telling employees what to do, instead it helps the workforce find their sense of ownership and unlock their potential to reach their goals. Servant leadership is all about empowering others, which when consistently done can raise morale, enhance productivity and reduce employee attrition.Servant Leadership and ScrumScrum, in a way, is the very essence of servant leadership. Unlike traditional project management methodologies, it does not follow a top-down, hierarchical approach. Instead, decisions are lateral and happen with the involvement of the whole team. Scrum is the perfect approach in which to practice the concept of servant leadership. The 5 Scrum values of Openness, Respect, Commitment, Courage, and Focus, adhere to the philosophy of Servant Leadership. The Scrum Master plays a key role in the development of the product, the team and the organization. The Scrum Guide defines the servant leadership a Scrum Master’s role has to perform in context to the roles mentioned above. The Scrum Values that a Scrum Master practices have a ripple effect throughout the organization. The Scrum Master is seen as an evangelist for practicing and promoting Scrum in the enterprise.The Agile Manifesto and servant-leadershipThe Agile Manifesto states that one must value: Individuals and interactions over Process and tools Working software over Comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation Responding to change over Following a plan These again align with the values of servant leadership, which is all about putting people or employees first. The Agile Manifesto describes focusing on building projects around motivated individuals and giving them an environment of support, trust and collaboration—all characteristics of servant leadership.Who Are These Servant Leaders?The Scrum Guide defines the service provided by the Scrum Master as servant leadership. The Scrum Master selflessly provides servant leadership to the development team, product owner and the whole organization. By serving these entities, the Scrum Master can create a high performing team, a valuable product and an efficient organization that is able to meet business objectives and keep customers happy.  Though the term Scrum Master may be deceptive, the Scrum Master is not a master of the team but in fact serves the team in order to ensure smooth functioning and productivity.Servant Leadership and Scrum Master Roles of Servant LeadershipServant leadership:The day-to-day activity of a Scrum Master involves servant leadership. Servant leadership in a scrum team involves performance planning, coaching, helping the team self- organize, resolving conflicts through conflict management, removing obstacles that hinder progress and serving the team. The Scrum Master, while practicing servant leadership, helps the team grow and mature and become independent enough to make their own decisions. Servant leadership in Scrum is all about making the team self-reliant, so they can cope with the pressures of the role. As a servant leader the Scrum Master creates a high performing team, helps them become collaborative and high performing in order to achieve goals and meet the requirements of the customer.  Service to the Scrum Team: As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the development team perform. They help the team perform to the best of their abilities by giving them an environment that is conducive to work in, encouraging them, guiding them and removing obstacles that may hinder progress. As a coach, the Scrum Master will guide the team on scrum processes and help them adhere to Agile values during the development of the product. The Scrum Master is responsible for the scrum team’s effectiveness, and they work tirelessly to ensure that the team is motivated, encouraged, creative and innovative. The Scrum Master through servant leadership helps the team improve Scrum practices which helps them become more productive and generate value. The Scrum Team’s role in motivating and helping the team comes through in the daily stand-up meetings that are arranged as part of the sprint. The Scrum Master encourages team members to share their grievances and progress made through the sprint. Team members can talk about obstacles that may be hindering their work and due cognizance will be taken up by the Scrum master to ensure that these obstacles are removed.  According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Development Team by: Coaching the team in becoming self-organized and cross-functional Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value increments by removing impediments Helping the team deliver within the timeframe of the sprint Service to the Product Owner: The Scrum Master is a servant leader not just for the development team but also the Product Owner. While the Product Owner is primarily responsible for the product backlog, they cannot do this alone. The Scrum Master aids the development team and the Product Owner with effective product backlog management.The Scrum Master is involved at every stage of the product backlog grooming, helping the product owner with Scrum events, product planning and to identify backlog items along with the development team. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner define the product vision to the team.   According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by: Helping in Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management Helping the Scrum Team understand manage the Product Backlog items Setting up empirical product planning in complex environments and, Managing and facilitating stakeholder collaboration.Service to the Organization: The Scrum Master is a coach and motivator not just for the development team but goes beyond the team to spread the awareness of Scrum in the entire organization. Scrum Masters coach and help teams and departments understand Scrum and develop an Agile mind-set. Besides servant leadership to the team a Scrum Master is also involved in promoting the ideas and values of Scrum. An organization can get an agile mind-set only if the entire organization adopts Scrum and not just a few teams. This is where the Scrum Master comes in, helping other teams not involved with Scum to gain the Agile mind-set, through training and coaching. The Scrum Master is an Agile evangelist and promotes Scrum enterprise-wide.According to Scrum.org the Scrum Master serves the organization by: Leading, training, and coaching the organization in adopting Scrum Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization Coaching employees and stakeholders in the way Scrum works Helping stakeholders work with Scrum TeamsSome Servant-Leader Behaviours for every Scrum MasterBeing empathetic: This is the foremost personality trait required for anyone wanting to become a Scrum Master. Your empathy will shine through in your interactions with the team members and your dealings with the stakeholders. You should be able to see problems from the point of view of each party and work towards solving these problems. Caring: As a caring and empathetic Scrum Master, your team will feel free to approach you and share their concerns. Providing a listening ear will make you more approachable. You will be able to more clearly understand the impediments that are stopping project progress and work towards providing a solution.  Managing Conflicts: Not all team members will get along with each other and this can cause disruptions and problems within the team, lowering their productivity. As a Scrum Master you need to be great at conflict management, help others solve their problems, work with each other and create a high performing and harmonious team. Building relationships: You need to build a rapport with your team, the product owner and the stakeholders. This will help you communicate freely and help others approach you with their problems and issues. You need to build that relationship of trust and take everyone along on the journey of success.  Being ethical: Ethics play an important role in software development, especially since software now controls every aspect of our lives. The product created should be free of malice and fraud. The Scrum Master should guide the team in delivering the product at a value and standard that is expected and agreed upon with the stakeholder. There should not be any shortcuts or concessions made on the quality of the product delivered as this will affect not just the Scrum Master and the team’s reputation but will cause a dent in the reputation of the organization.   Conclusion  Servant leadership and the Scrum Master’s role is the backbone of Scrum. The Scrum Master as a servant leader re-emphasizes the values of Scrum and helps to enhance teamwork, collaboration, motivation and value. Under the able servant leadership of the Scrum Master, individual members and the team will grow, become more confident and help in delivering value.  
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Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servan...

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A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small teams. But the true benefits of Agile can only be reaped if Agile and Scrum are scaled at the enterprise level. However, this is easier said than done. According to statistics, 47% of Agile transformations are not successful. While this is a worrying trend, there are still hundreds of organizations who have got it right and are able to survive the competition by innovating faster, delivering value and adapting to changing markets. How are they doing it? By using scaled Scrum.There are several tools and frameworks available for scaling Scrum at the enterprise level. In this blog, we attempt to look at a few of these.  Scaling Scrum with NexusNexus is among the most popular frameworks for scaling Scrum. According to the Nexus Guide, “Nexus is a framework for developing and sustaining scaled product delivery initiatives. It builds upon Scrum, extending it only where absolutely necessary to minimize and manage dependencies between multiple Scrum Teams while promoting empiricism and the Scrum Values.” How is Nexus different from Scrum? Scrum defines three primary roles: The Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the development team. These three roles work together in one team.The Nexus framework consists of several Scrum teams that work together toward a common product goal and defines the Nexus Integration Team as an additional accountability.  Nexus helps to build on the values of Scrum and also solves the collaboration and dependency challenges that tend to occur between teams in Scrum.Benefits of using Nexus Nexus extends Scrum in the following ways:  Accountabilities: Nexus introduces the Nexus Integration Team, which consists of the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and members. This team is accountable for delivering a workable product at the end of each sprint.  Events: Nexus events aim to add to or supplement Scrum events and serve not just individual teams but also the Nexus Integration Team. The objective of a sprint is to achieve the Nexus sprint goal. Artifacts: Although the teams are different, within the Nexus framework they all work towards a single goal and follow a single product backlog. There’s a high amount of transparency and work is allocated to each team. The Nexus Integration TeamAccording to the Nexus Guide, “the Nexus Integration Team exists to coordinate, coach, and supervise the application of Nexus and the operation of Scrum so the best outcomes are derived.” The Nexus Integration Team or NIT comprises of the Scrum Master, the Product Owner and Nexus integration team members. There are generally three to nine Scrum teams working together in Nexus. All of them follow a single product backlog and work towards delivering a single product. The Nexus Integration Team forms an essential role within Nexus and is tasked with providing transparent accountability among the teams in Nexus.Product OwnerThe Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the product value and the work carried out in Nexus. Their primary task is to order and refine the product backlog. Being a member of the Nexus Integration Team, the product owner will work with all the Scrum teams in the Nexus Integration team. The product owner and the teams work towards better defining and refining the product backlog.Scrum MasterJust like in regular Scrum, the Scrum Master in the Nexus Integration Team is also responsible for ensuring that the Nexus framework is understood by everyone on the team as prescribed by the Nexus Guide.   MembersThe members of the Nexus Integration Team are the Scrum team members who aid the Scrum teams in adoption of tools and practices that will help the team and members deliver value at the end of each sprint that meets the definition of done. Nexus Integration Team membership should be considered more important than the individual Scrum Team membership and members should work towards first fulfilling their Nexus team responsibilities.What are the Events in Nexus?Nexus adds or augments the events as defined by Scrum. The Nexus event durations are like Scrum event durations and are guided by the Scrum Guide.  Nexus events consist of: Sprint- A Nexus sprint is the same as in Scrum, at the end of which a single increment is delivered.  Cross team refinement- The aim of Nexus is to enhance collaboration and reduce cross team dependencies. Cross team refinement helps to make dependencies and responsibilities more transparent. This makes it easier for Scrum teams within the Nexus to clearly identify and deliver their allocated tasks.  Nexus Sprint Planning- Nexus sprint planning will involve the participation of the Product Owner and concerned teams' members from each team. The purpose of the Nexus Sprint Planning is to assign and co-ordinate activities for a single sprint.  Nexus Daily Scrum- This is like the daily stand up in Scrum. Nexus daily scrum is used to identify any issues and track progress. Any issues are immediately prioritized and solved so that they do not hinder the work of the developers.  Nexus Sprint Review- This event is held at the end of sprints to provide feedback on the increment that has been built and on any future updates that have to be made. Nexus Sprint Retrospective- Like in Scrum, Nexus retrospectives are an important part of the project and are used to reflect on how quality and consistency can be improved.  Some Nexus ArtifactsNexus artifacts are the same as Scrum artifacts and when implemented correctly ensure transparency and value maximization. Every artifact is designed to give a commitment. For example, the product backlog is the artifact and its commitment is the product goal. Other artifacts and their commitments include: Nexus Sprint Backlog-Nexus Sprint Goal Integrated Increment-Definition of Done Along with Nexus, LeSS is another popular framework for scaling agile.  Scaling Scrum with LeSS The Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework is an offering from Atlassian and is a framework for scaling Scrum to multiple teams that are working on the same product. The idea behind LeSS is to start with a single Scrum team as defined in the Scrum Guide and then replicate it to multiple teams who are working on a single product. LeSS has earned the label of being “barely sufficient” as it is a simple framework to apply and uses the basic concepts of Scrum to scale.  How do Sprint Planning meetings in LeSS work?  LeSS generally carries out sprint planning in two stages. Sprint Planning One focuses on selecting items that are of topmost priority, solving unanswered issues and defining the sprint goal. The Sprint Planning Two is like the sprint plan of regular Scrum and focuses on creating a plan of action for getting things done.  Daily meeting  The daily Scrum meeting in LeSS is similar to how it is done in normal single Scrum teams and involves team members discussing the work accomplished and the work to be done during the day. It is a time-boxed meeting and helps teams address any issues that may be hindering work.   Sprint Delivery Meeting (Review) The sprint review meeting is an essential part of LeSS and helps teams and stakeholders review the product built during the sprint and suggest changes and new ideas.   Retrospective The retrospective for LeSS is similar to one team Scrum. These retrospectives held at the end of the sprint will help teams to reflect on the progress of tasks, and identify the obstacles that may hinder or impede the overall project.  Let’s take a look at some of the other frameworks that are used for scaling agile. Scaling Scrum with SAFe®The Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe in short, follows the principles of lean and agile and helps in scaling Scrum to the enterprise. It helps to manage alignment, collaboration, and delivery from multiple agile teams to ensure enterprise success. It systematically focuses on applying Scrum at each level of the enterprise, to maximize value and ensure a successful agile transformation.A successful SAFe adoption ensures end-to-end business agility with significant improvements in strategy, delivery, execution and business competencies. It helps organizations overcome competition and ensure innovative business solutions to gain customer trust and partnership. The SAFe framework is continuously improvised in order to help organizations cope with the digital age and ensure that business outcomes are delivered.Scaling Scrum with the Scrum@Scale frameworkAnother framework that allows organizations to implement Scrum at scale is the Scrum@Scale framework. This framework expands on the core principles of Scrum and helps to scale Scrum over a wide range of industries and sectors, ensuring customer satisfaction and creation of successful products. It promotes communication across all teams and departments, and optimizes resources, removes roadblocks and ensures creation of innovative products.A Final Word By driving Agile at the organizational level, companies can gain all the benefits of team-level Scrum at scale. More often than not the principles of team level Scrum are not sustainable at the enterprise level and the transformation fails. Tested and proven Agile scaling frameworks are now able to turn this around, and help organizations scale up the principles and practices of Scrum to become more adaptable, flexible and responsive. Professionals can master these frameworks and help their organization adopt the culture, mind-set and principles of Scrum and agile.  
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A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small tea... Read More

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