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The Definitive Guide to Scrum Framework

If you are new to the world of software development, then there is a likelihood that the terms “Scrum” and “Agile” will appear the same to you. But, there is a major distinction between the two.Agile comprises of self-organisation, cross-functionality of the teams, collaboration and refers to the methods and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the ‘Agile Manifesto’.Scrum is a framework that implements Agile development.Simply put, Scrum is an iterative and incremental structure for project management mainly used in agile software development. The scrum methodology indicates functional software, the versatility to change accompanying with emerging communication, collaboration, and business realities.If you are planning to put Scrum applications into practice in your team or organization, and are new to the concepts, then you have reached the right place. Read on to know the basics of Scrum, how it works along with in-depth detail on its frameworks, roles, and artifacts.Understanding ScrumScrum is a framework with the help of which people can address complex problems and at the same time deliver products with the highest possible creativity and productivity.Scrum is an agile way to manage projects, mostly emphasizing on software development. Many a time, it is perceived as a methodology, but it is a framework for managing processes, with its main focus on teamwork, accountability, and iterative progress to achieve a well-defined goal.Scrum helps teams to work together in a better way. An example of the same would be a properly functioning Rugby team, where the team members are encouraged to-Learn through their past experiencesBecome self-organized while working on a problemReflect on their victory as well as loss in order to improve continuously.Evolution of ScrumThere was a time once when the word ‘Scrum’ was used only as a rugby football term. Scrum is a technique to restart playing in Rugby, where players pack themselves closely together with their heads down in order to gain possession of the ball. This became the inspiration for the Scrum method in businesses. Let’s have a look at its history and how it came into being.The Scrum concept dates back to 1986. That year, two Japanese business experts Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka introduced the term ‘Scrum’ in the subject of product development. They published the article ‘New New Product Development Game’ in the Harvard Business Review, where they described an approach for commercializing product development which would increase speed and flexibility.By taking real-life examples of companies like Honda, Canon, and Fuji-Xerox, who have achieved surpassing results using extensive, team-based techniques in product development, they emphasised more on self-organised teams and the role of management in the development process. This led to the birth of the concept of ‘Scrum’.In 1995, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber presented a paper, ‘The Scrum Development Process’, at Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications (OOPSLA) conference, 1995 in Austin, Texas.In 2001, Sutherland and Schwaber, along with fifteen other colleagues, got together in Snowbird, Utah, where they drafted the Agile Manifesto. It acted as a revolution for the software developers around the globe, as now they had a new approach for creating new software.Since then, the community of Scrum practitioners has grown and is continuing to grow exponentially, generating thousands of high-performing teams in organisations all around the globe. It is now used widely outside of software development as well, changing the world of work for better!Why use ScrumUsing Scrum tools and processes in software development can be very beneficial for the organisation as the framework prefers to work and develop in short sprints. The major advantages of using Scrum are:Higher customer satisfaction: Sprints are short-spanned in Scrum. Hence, results are ready to be delivered and tested within a time span of 1-3 weeks. Scrum provides new features and corrections on a very frequent basis and collects feedback from its clients. This speeds up the process of fixing the bug, hence making the development process even faster. This keeps the customers satisfied.Increases the morale of the team: The teams are self-organised and self-managed. This allows the team members to be more innovative, creative and gives them acknowledgment for their work. They work in a cross-functional manner, helping them to learn new skills.Better exposure and improved progress visibility: All the members of the project team, including the stakeholders can know the updates of the project at any given time. Transparency helps the project team in identifying issues as well as making predictions about the progress of the project.Decreased time to market the product: Scrum has proved to deliver valued products to the customers 30 to 40 percent faster than the traditional methods.Increase in Return on Investment: The decrease in time to market the product is one of the major reasons for Scrum projects to receive a higher return on investment(ROI). The revenue starts coming in sooner,  which results in a higher total return over time.Better project control: The project performance is controlled by the Scrum team and corrections can be made by them. The priorities are adjusted by the Scrum teams at each sprint interval. This allows the team to address issues as they arise and get the requirements done as per necessity.More flexible and responsive: The requirements in the product backlog are unpredictable and volatile, unlike traditional models where requirements are fixed before the development process starts. This makes the business more responsive to the demands of the market.How Scrum Training has benefited companies in the pastOrganizations primarily focus on customer satisfaction in order to achieve success. Teams are self-organized in an Agile environment. They share ideas and collaborate their ideas to find solutions to produce high-quality products. But Agile is not a technique for success. It requires a framework and that is where Scrum plays its role.Scrum has gained immense popularity amongst software development organisations. To name a few:1. 3MAlso known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, 3M is an American manufacturer that manufactures multiple numbers of products, ranging from electronic circuits to medical products.According to 3M, they previously relied on the traditional Waterfall methodology for its software development process. When they wished to increase their speed of development of new applications and lower their cost of software product development, they were not satisfied with the Waterfall process. They decided to opt for Agile with Scrum methodology and went for it. With the self-organised teams, they were able to push priorities as deemed. Hence, Agile and Scrum proved worth the effort for them.2. ANZThe third-largest bank in Australia, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has thousands of employees who work together to provide commercial and retail banking to its customers.They adopted Agile with sprint framework in 2017 and since then, they have enjoyed the benefits of Agile. It now releases new functions and features on a monthly basis.3. SpotifySpotify provides music streaming service and has successfully implemented an Agile environment to attain positive results from the same.Spotify has its employees divided into teams and each team is responsible for building and maintaining a specific function of the app. They don’t fear that one bad commitment will break the entire platform. This has resulted in Spotify becoming the leading music streaming service.4. Google Google is a part of Alphabet Inc., which is the world’s second-biggest tech company. The main reason behind their success is the timely delivery of updates of its applications. Agile can be credited for this mindset.With multiple applications like Gmail, Google Maps, etc. they all are needed to be first tested extensively before being released for the users.One major example that can be taken from Google is that Google builds, works on, and improves its Android OS. They then release a beta version of the functioning Android OS for its users. It allows users to participate and give feedback. If the reports indicate bugs or usability issues, they fix it and an update is rolled back.5. IBMBeing one of the biggest technology companies, IBM is known for creating computer hardware around the world. Scrum has also helped improve IBM’s business operations in such a manner that now it offers its own management software that integrates an agile development environment, known as IBM Rotational Team Concert.Also known as the linear sequential life cycle, it was the first process model ever introduced. It was used in environments which were structured and weren’t adaptable to changes easily.In the Waterfall Model, each stage or task is needed to be completed before the next task can start. This is done to avoid any overlapping of project stages and to maintain the flow in a single direction.When it comes to the comparison between Waterfall and Scrum methods, a major drawback that Waterfall faces is that it doesn’t allow any changes or alterations. In case an issue occurs, it becomes very difficult to revisit the earlier stages. The project flow must follow the life-cycle as planned before making any changes. Since the market trend in today’s scenario changes on a regular basis, the Waterfall model becomes very difficult to sustain and implement.How does Scrum work?The Scrum Framework has three distinct categories: roles, events, and artifacts. Read along to know about these three categories and the importance of the Scrum Framework.Scrum Framework: How it differs from AgileSince Scrum is centered around steady improvements and is also the core principle of Agile, people often confuse between the two. There are even instances where people (especially those newly introduced to Scrum) use the terms “Agile” and “Scrum” interchangeably.Hence before we begin to explain further, it is important to understand the differences between Agile and Scrum.Scrum is a framework for getting things done while Agile is a mindset. One can use frameworks like Scrum to think the Agile way and build the agile principles in their day-to-day work and communication.Scrum is regarded as an iterative, incremental framework. Let us understand why.An iterative framework like Scrum is one that makes progress towards a defined goal mainly through successive refinements. In Scrum, the iteration happens in the following steps -The development team takes the first important step in any iteration.They write the code based on the collected requirements.Next, the team identifies and refines the weak areas in the code until the product is satisfactory.In every iteration, refinements are made, the code undergoes further changes, and the software is improved.The work in every iteration is improved in the upcoming iterations.But, why is Scrum called an incremental process?In Scrum, the software is developed and delivered in pieces, in small increments. Every new increment is nothing but a subset of the final software. Each increment is fully coded and tested. In other words, “completed” work is delivered throughout the project.This explains why Scrum is regarded as an incremental process.Read along and learn about Scrum roles, artifacts and events, and how they work together in order to deliver a product in the market.Scrum RolesThe scrum framework defines three scrum roles, namely:Scrum TeamScrum MasterScrum Product OwnerAll of these roles have a defined set of responsibilities. They need to interact closely, work together and act according to their responsibilities to finish a project successfully.Each of these roles is explained below:Scrum Team: It is a group of individuals who work together to deliver the product as requested. They hold the responsibility to decide and delegate how a problem can be solved without the help of any team leader. The team as a whole decides how to address an issue and take care of it. The most effective scrum teams are close-knit, co-located, and small-scale. All team members have different skill sets and they help each other at any point needed to ensure a successful sprint completion.  In order to work more efficiently, a Scrum Team should:Follow a common goalAdhere to the same rules and regulationsRespect everyone aroundIt is the responsibility of the scrum team as a whole to deliver the product in the committed time frame and with the desired quality. A good result or a non-success of the product is never credited to a single team member but always to the Scrum Team as a whole.Characteristics of a Scrum Team:Scrum teams have the following attributes:The team as a whole is responsible for the delivery of the projectThe Scrum Team is self-dependent and empoweredThere aren’t any sub-teams under the Scrum TeamAll team members are collocatedThe skills within the Scrum Team are balancedThe team is cross-functional and holds mutual accountabilityScrum Master:A Scrum Master is a part of the Scrum Team who holds the responsibility to ensure that the Scrum Team abides by the Scrum theory, rules and practices. He is not the same as a Team Leader. A Team Leader leads the team as well as assigns tasks to the team members, whereas a Scrum Master ensures that the team is working according to the rules and that they have understood the Scrum method entirely. They act as an advisor for the team and are on a continuous lookout for the team’s improvements.Responsibilities of a Scrum Master:A Scrum Master has several important responsibilities, to name a few:Act as a coach for the Scrum TeamMake sure that the Scrum Team is protected from any external requests or disruptionsFacilitate the Scrum EventsTake measures to maximize the productivity of the teamBuild trust and transparencyEnsure that there is proper communication between the Scrum Team and the Product Owner.Product Owner:The Product Owner plays a very crucial role in a Scrum team. He acts as an interface between the team and the stakeholders and is responsible to ensure that the work is being in the correct order to deliver a product of the highest possible value. He works very closely with the Scrum Team and coordinates their activities throughout the project.Responsibilities of a Product Owner:A Product Owner has several responsibilities:Communicates with the stakeholders  (customers, marketing, etc.) and discusses the required functionality. These are then filtered and prioritized before being handed over to the team.He is the only person who is allowed to manage the Scrum Product Backlog and keep it in the order of the priority.Responsible for making it to the project goal, hence creating and maintaining the release plan.Make sure that all members of the team understand what is required of the project.The team reports the results to the Product Owner during the sprint review.He makes the schedule, scope and trade-off decisions.Responsible for the ROI of the product.Scrum Events (Ceremonies)To create regularity and to minimize the need for undefined meetings in Scrum, there are a few prescribed events in Scrum. All of these events are time-boxed and are conducted on a regular basis. The Scrum Events are stated below:SprintSprint PlanningDaily Scrum MeetingsSprint ReviewSprint RetrospectiveSprint: A Sprint is a time-boxed period in which specific work is completed, that is, the team works together to develop a product incrementally. Sprints are usually of a duration of one month or less. A new Sprint starts as soon as the previous Sprint gets over. The main motive behind a Sprint is to provide a pattern to work on for the team.Sprint Planning: A Sprint Planning is a meeting where the Product Owner along with the Development Team discusses the prioritization of the product backlog items and plans the delivery of the final product. It occurs at the beginning of a sprint. The work that is to be performed in a sprint is discussed and planned in this meeting. It is the responsibility of the Scrum master to make sure that the meeting takes place and that the team understands the purpose.  The necessary inputs for Sprint Planning are:Product BacklogConstraintsSprint GoalTeam capabilitiesDaily Scrum Meeting: A daily scrum meeting is commonly termed as a daily stand-up meeting, where all team members meet to discuss their progress since the last stand-up meet. It is a time-boxed meeting of 15 minutes.The main objective of this meeting is to discuss:Work in progressCreate a plan for the next 24 hours.Sprint backlogs, if anyAny new informationSprint Review: After the end of each Sprint, the development team along with the stakeholders hold a session to discuss the updates of the backlog items and receive feedback for the same. This session is known as the Sprint Review.The possible outcomes of the Sprint Review are:Demonstrate the results of the sprintsRevised Product BacklogCancel any further development, if neededRespond to questionsReceive feedbackResolve the impedimentsThe final result of the Sprint Review is the revised Product Backlog, which acts as the Product Backlog for the upcoming sprint.Sprint Retrospective: The Sprint Retrospective is a technique which is used for continuous improvement. It is conducted after the Sprint Review, preceding the upcoming Sprint Planning. In this meet, the Scrum Team examines the previous sprint and creates a plan for enhancement which can be put into action in the upcoming sprint. The Development Team, Product Owner and Scrum Master participate in this meet.The important inputs are:Data about team performanceImprovement backlogThe focus of the teamScrum ArtifactsThe Scrum Artifacts present the development team and the stakeholders with the key information that they need to be aware of. The main objective of the Scrum Artifacts is to provide transparency and opportunities for inspection and adaptation. It reflects a team’s progress towards the sprint goal.The Scrum framework defines three artifacts:Product BacklogSprint BacklogProduct IncrementProduct Backlog: Product Backlog outlines all the requirements that are needed for a project, product or system. It can be considered as a to-do list of all the changes that are to be made to a project. The Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog, where he can add, change and re-prioritize the tasks as needed. It is a living artifact as the requirements never stop changing. Any changes in the business requirements, market conditions or technology may result in changes in the Product Backlog.A Product Backlog may contain functional, non-functional, infrastructural, and architectural elements. They also work on the important risks that are needed to be removed or mitigated.The Product Backlog is refined and revised periodically so that it can be helpful for the next level of planning. This is known as Product Backlog Refinement. The Development Team along with the Product Owner estimate the items in it, which includes order, description, estimate, and value.The major activities involved during the backlog refinement are:Asking questions to the product owner for precise informationCreating new user storiesDeleting stories that are no longer requiredEstimating or re-estimating the user storiesRefining stories for preparation of future sprintsRe-prioritising the storiesReviewing the highest priority storiesSprint Backlog: A Sprint Backlog is a list of items that are taken from the Product Backlog which are to be completed within a Sprint. It also contains a plan to deliver the product increment and to realize the sprint goal. The development team plans and gives a forecast about the changes or increment in the functionality that will happen during the sprint, along with the work that is required to deliver the implemented functionality.The Development Team is responsible for creating and maintaining the Sprint Backlog. As soon as new work comes in, the development team adds it to the Sprint Backlog. The team can change, add, remove or modify the tasks any time as needed. The scrum master can give advice and make suggestions about any missing task(s).The Sprint Backlog needs to be updated by the team at least once every day. A sprint starts only when all the team members agree on the fact that the Sprint Backlog is achievable.The Sprint Backlog can be monitored and the work which is remaining can be calculated. By doing this, the likelihood of successfully achieving the Sprint Goal can be concluded as well, which will help the development team to manage its progress.Product Increment: Product Increment is the most important Scrum Artifact. It is the sum of all the Product Backlog items that have been completed in the sprint along with the values of the increments produced in the previous sprints. An increment is the product of a project which is potentially shippable. It should be acceptable by the Product Owner regardless of whenever he decides to release it.Challenges faced in applying Scrum and how to overcome themMastering the rules and practices of Scrum is not that simple. It will require a lot of time and effort to do so.Scrum doesn’t promise to fix all problems, but it helps bring them out in the open. Scrum can be mastered by facing different challenges and overcoming them. Scrum will certainly not fail you in doing so as it is designed to work for you, as long as you know how to make it work.Let’s address the common challenges that teams and organisations face during the implementation of Scrum and look at the possible solutions.1. Resistance to change: Organisations are generally resistant to changes. Change can be difficult and uncomfortable, hence people generally avoid it. Scrum may prove to be challenging to deploy for established organisations. The major challenge that they face is the change from yearly or semi-annual releases to weekly iterations. For an organisation to start using Scrum, it will require a shift in the fundamental mindset which will change the old habits and bring along new, more effective ones.Get out of comfort zone: It is very important to understand what an individual’s true feelings are towards adopting Scrum and why they resist changes. Learn about them and find measures to help them overcome it.An incremental approach can be observed as well. Start small, that is, involve one team and showcase their results. Let their experience inspire others.2. Distributed team: A major issue that a distributed (Scrum) team faces is communication. Conflicting working hours and a difference in time zones may diminish the overall effectiveness of the team, making collaboration difficult in many cases. Lack of communication may cause delays or unnecessary errors, which can lead to poor sustainability, ultimately affecting productivity.Everyone should be on the same page: It is very important to be considerate of the fact that team members of different nationalities will have different traditions. Apart from this, coordination and trust are very important as well. One can also take the following practical measures:A boot camp can be conducted where the whole team can come together. These sessions can give an understanding of a customer’s requirements and goals.Designated members can be relocated to different places, where they can work with the resident team on a temporary basis.Team members working in different time zones should be provided with different facilities like video conferencing, instant messaging software, and desktop-sharing abilities.Teams can be paired across different locations. It functions in a way that when one member is clocking off for the day, his corresponding team member may be starting his day across the globe. He can take over the work and continue working.3. Handling bugs and high-priority tasks: One can receive unexpected and urgent requests from stakeholders and customers. Bugs might also arise in the process. Some of these can be added to the Backlog, though it is recommended not to add all of them. They might be needed to be taken care of as soon as possible.Assign a person for the same and allow more time for bug fixing: Assign a person from the team who will focus all of his attention on tasks like fixing bugs, responding to urgent requests, etc. Also, with the development of progress, increase the time allocated for bug fixing.Scrum Vs KanbanAgile is a set of principles and ideas while Scrum and Kanban are frameworks that help teams and organizations to put these agile principles and values into practice to get things done.Kanban and Scrum follow the same principles, while their practices differ. The main aim behind both of these frameworks is to help you build better products.Kanban in a nutshell:Kanban is a tool which is used to organize work so that efficiency can be improved. Like Scrum, Kanban breaks down its work into small chunks and makes use of a Kanban Board. The Kanban Board is used to keep track of the work as it advances through the workflow. It not only displays the workflow but also optimizes the flow of tasks within different teams. The work to be done is time-bounded in Scrum, whereas Kanban limits the amount of work to be done in a condition, that is, it limits the ongoing tasks and the to-do list. Kanban visualizes the work and limits the work in progress so that the efficiency can be improved.There are several differences in the philosophies and practical applications of Kanban and Scrum, as well as many individual differences. Let’s have a look at them.ScrumFactorKanbanThe Scrum Team consists of the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and the Development Team.Team RolesThere are no defined roles in a Kanban Team. The roles need not be cross-functional.Each sprint is estimated or planned based on the Backlog Sheet.Work BoardWorkflow/ Work Item/ Kanban Board is used to track the work.Scrum emphasises on regular, fixed sprints.ScheduleThere is no iteration or time-boxing in Kanban. It has a continuous flow.No changes are made during the Sprints.Change philosophyChanges can happen at any time during the process.Releases are made at the end of each sprint.ReleaseThere is a continuous delivery in Kanban.Best applicable for teams which have stable priorities that will not change much over time.ApplicationBest applicable for projects which have a lot of varying priorities.Productivity is measured using velocity through sprints.Productivity MeasurementMeasures productivity by measuring the amount of time that a team takes to complete a piece of the project from the starting till the end.List of Scrum certificationsScrum Master certification is one of the oldest and also the most popular certification in Agile. Certifications help and are needed because they are a confirmation on the implementation and also a verification of the knowledge gained.They validate your knowledge in Agile and Scrum.The most popular certification programs are:Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM: Scrum Alliance)Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO: Scrum Alliance)Certified Scrum Professional® (CSP: Scrum Alliance)SAFe® Agilist (SA)SAFe® Program Consultant (SPC4)Professional Scrum Master™ (PSM: Scrum.org)Certified Scrum Developer® (CSD: Scrum Alliance)LeSS (Large Scale Scrum)Scrum Master Certified (SMC™)Certified Agile Leader (CAL: Scrum Alliance)SAFe® 4.0 Advanced Scrum MasterSAFe® 4.0 for TeamsProfessional Scrum Product Owner™ (PSPO: Scrum.org )SAFe® 4.0 Product Manager/Product OwnerMost of the basic certifications do not require any experience as a Scrum Master and can be taken up directly after completing training. However, the Advanced certifications require completion of basic certification and work experience ranging from a minimum of 1 to 2 years.In conclusionThe Scrum Framework is simple and easy to understand, and so are the rules, artifacts, roles, and events. Scrum doesn’t keep a count of the amount of time that you have spent working but measures the tasks that have been accomplished. It makes one more efficient with their time and work.It is ideal for complex and difficult projects as the tasks are broken down into small user stories. The transparency throughout the development cycle along with the distribution of roles and planned events are added advantages. Progress can be observed in a small amount of time which might even lead to quick releases.But, if the team is accustomed to the traditional Waterfall model, then they might feel difficulty in adopting Scrum. But the long-term benefits outweigh the problems faced in the initial learning curve, making it a cogent framework to adopt for your organization.

The Definitive Guide to Scrum Framework

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The Definitive Guide to Scrum Framework

If you are new to the world of software development, then there is a likelihood that the terms “Scrum” and “Agile” will appear the same to you. But, there is a major distinction between the two.

Agile comprises of self-organisation, cross-functionality of the teams, collaboration and refers to the methods and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the ‘Agile Manifesto’.

Scrum is a framework that implements Agile development.

Simply put, Scrum is an iterative and incremental structure for project management mainly used in agile software development. The scrum methodology indicates functional software, the versatility to change accompanying with emerging communication, collaboration, and business realities.

If you are planning to put Scrum applications into practice in your team or organization, and are new to the concepts, then you have reached the right place. Read on to know the basics of Scrum, how it works along with in-depth detail on its frameworks, roles, and artifacts.

Understanding Scrum

Scrum is a framework with the help of which people can address complex problems and at the same time deliver products with the highest possible creativity and productivity.

Scrum is an agile way to manage projects, mostly emphasizing on software development. Many a time, it is perceived as a methodology, but it is a framework for managing processes, with its main focus on teamwork, accountability, and iterative progress to achieve a well-defined goal.

Scrum helps teams to work together in a better way. An example of the same would be a properly functioning Rugby team, where the team members are encouraged to-

  • Learn through their past experiences
  • Become self-organized while working on a problem
  • Reflect on their victory as well as loss in order to improve continuously.

Evolution of Scrum

Evolution of Scrum

There was a time once when the word ‘Scrum’ was used only as a rugby football term. Scrum is a technique to restart playing in Rugby, where players pack themselves closely together with their heads down in order to gain possession of the ball. This became the inspiration for the Scrum method in businesses. Let’s have a look at its history and how it came into being.

The Scrum concept dates back to 1986. That year, two Japanese business experts Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka introduced the term ‘Scrum’ in the subject of product development. They published the article ‘New New Product Development Game’ in the Harvard Business Review, where they described an approach for commercializing product development which would increase speed and flexibility.

By taking real-life examples of companies like Honda, Canon, and Fuji-Xerox, who have achieved surpassing results using extensive, team-based techniques in product development, they emphasised more on self-organised teams and the role of management in the development process. This led to the birth of the concept of ‘Scrum’.

In 1995, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber presented a paper, ‘The Scrum Development Process’, at Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications (OOPSLA) conference, 1995 in Austin, Texas.

In 2001, Sutherland and Schwaber, along with fifteen other colleagues, got together in Snowbird, Utah, where they drafted the Agile Manifesto. It acted as a revolution for the software developers around the globe, as now they had a new approach for creating new software.

Since then, the community of Scrum practitioners has grown and is continuing to grow exponentially, generating thousands of high-performing teams in organisations all around the globe. It is now used widely outside of software development as well, changing the world of work for better!

Why use Scrum

Using Scrum tools and processes in software development can be very beneficial for the organisation as the framework prefers to work and develop in short sprints. The major advantages of using Scrum are:

  1. Higher customer satisfaction: Sprints are short-spanned in Scrum. Hence, results are ready to be delivered and tested within a time span of 1-3 weeks. Scrum provides new features and corrections on a very frequent basis and collects feedback from its clients. This speeds up the process of fixing the bug, hence making the development process even faster. This keeps the customers satisfied.
  2. Increases the morale of the team: The teams are self-organised and self-managed. This allows the team members to be more innovative, creative and gives them acknowledgment for their work. They work in a cross-functional manner, helping them to learn new skills.
  3. Better exposure and improved progress visibility: All the members of the project team, including the stakeholders can know the updates of the project at any given time. Transparency helps the project team in identifying issues as well as making predictions about the progress of the project.
  4. Decreased time to market the product: Scrum has proved to deliver valued products to the customers 30 to 40 percent faster than the traditional methods.
  5. Increase in Return on Investment: The decrease in time to market the product is one of the major reasons for Scrum projects to receive a higher return on investment(ROI). The revenue starts coming in sooner,  which results in a higher total return over time.
  6. Better project control: The project performance is controlled by the Scrum team and corrections can be made by them. The priorities are adjusted by the Scrum teams at each sprint interval. This allows the team to address issues as they arise and get the requirements done as per necessity.
  7. More flexible and responsive: The requirements in the product backlog are unpredictable and volatile, unlike traditional models where requirements are fixed before the development process starts. This makes the business more responsive to the demands of the market.

How Scrum Training has benefited companies in the past

How Scrum Training has benefited companies

Organizations primarily focus on customer satisfaction in order to achieve success. Teams are self-organized in an Agile environment. They share ideas and collaborate their ideas to find solutions to produce high-quality products. But Agile is not a technique for success. It requires a framework and that is where Scrum plays its role.

Scrum has gained immense popularity amongst software development organisations. To name a few:

1. 3M

Also known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, 3M is an American manufacturer that manufactures multiple numbers of products, ranging from electronic circuits to medical products.

According to 3M, they previously relied on the traditional Waterfall methodology for its software development process. When they wished to increase their speed of development of new applications and lower their cost of software product development, they were not satisfied with the Waterfall process. They decided to opt for Agile with Scrum methodology and went for it. With the self-organised teams, they were able to push priorities as deemed. Hence, Agile and Scrum proved worth the effort for them.

2. ANZ

The third-largest bank in Australia, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has thousands of employees who work together to provide commercial and retail banking to its customers.

They adopted Agile with sprint framework in 2017 and since then, they have enjoyed the benefits of Agile. It now releases new functions and features on a monthly basis.

3. Spotify

Spotify provides music streaming service and has successfully implemented an Agile environment to attain positive results from the same.

Spotify has its employees divided into teams and each team is responsible for building and maintaining a specific function of the app. They don’t fear that one bad commitment will break the entire platform. This has resulted in Spotify becoming the leading music streaming service.

4. Google 

Google is a part of Alphabet Inc., which is the world’s second-biggest tech company. The main reason behind their success is the timely delivery of updates of its applications. Agile can be credited for this mindset.

With multiple applications like Gmail, Google Maps, etc. they all are needed to be first tested extensively before being released for the users.

One major example that can be taken from Google is that Google builds, works on, and improves its Android OS. They then release a beta version of the functioning Android OS for its users. It allows users to participate and give feedback. If the reports indicate bugs or usability issues, they fix it and an update is rolled back.

5. IBM

Being one of the biggest technology companies, IBM is known for creating computer hardware around the world. Scrum has also helped improve IBM’s business operations in such a manner that now it offers its own management software that integrates an agile development environment, known as IBM Rotational Team Concert.

Also known as the linear sequential life cycle, it was the first process model ever introduced. It was used in environments which were structured and weren’t adaptable to changes easily.

In the Waterfall Model, each stage or task is needed to be completed before the next task can start. This is done to avoid any overlapping of project stages and to maintain the flow in a single direction.

When it comes to the comparison between Waterfall and Scrum methods, a major drawback that Waterfall faces is that it doesn’t allow any changes or alterations. In case an issue occurs, it becomes very difficult to revisit the earlier stages. The project flow must follow the life-cycle as planned before making any changes. Since the market trend in today’s scenario changes on a regular basis, the Waterfall model becomes very difficult to sustain and implement.

How does Scrum work?

The Scrum Framework has three distinct categories: roles, events, and artifacts. Read along to know about these three categories and the importance of the Scrum Framework.

How does Scrum work

Scrum Framework: How it differs from Agile

Since Scrum is centered around steady improvements and is also the core principle of Agile, people often confuse between the two. There are even instances where people (especially those newly introduced to Scrum) use the terms “Agile” and “Scrum” interchangeably.

Hence before we begin to explain further, it is important to understand the differences between Agile and Scrum.

Scrum is a framework for getting things done while Agile is a mindset. One can use frameworks like Scrum to think the Agile way and build the agile principles in their day-to-day work and communication.

Scrum is regarded as an iterative, incremental framework. Let us understand why.

An iterative framework like Scrum is one that makes progress towards a defined goal mainly through successive refinements. In Scrum, the iteration happens in the following steps -

  1. The development team takes the first important step in any iteration.
  2. They write the code based on the collected requirements.
  3. Next, the team identifies and refines the weak areas in the code until the product is satisfactory.
  4. In every iteration, refinements are made, the code undergoes further changes, and the software is improved.
  5. The work in every iteration is improved in the upcoming iterations.

But, why is Scrum called an incremental process?

In Scrum, the software is developed and delivered in pieces, in small increments. Every new increment is nothing but a subset of the final software. Each increment is fully coded and tested. In other words, “completed” work is delivered throughout the project.

This explains why Scrum is regarded as an incremental process.

Read along and learn about Scrum roles, artifacts and events, and how they work together in order to deliver a product in the market.

Scrum Roles

The scrum framework defines three scrum roles, namely:

  • Scrum Team
  • Scrum Master
  • Scrum Product Owner

Scrum Roles

All of these roles have a defined set of responsibilities. They need to interact closely, work together and act according to their responsibilities to finish a project successfully.

Each of these roles is explained below:

Scrum Team

It is a group of individuals who work together to deliver the product as requested. They hold the responsibility to decide and delegate how a problem can be solved without the help of any team leader. The team as a whole decides how to address an issue and take care of it. The most effective scrum teams are close-knit, co-located, and small-scale. All team members have different skill sets and they help each other at any point needed to ensure a successful sprint completion.  

In order to work more efficiently, a Scrum Team should:

  • Follow a common goal
  • Adhere to the same rules and regulations
  • Respect everyone around

It is the responsibility of the scrum team as a whole to deliver the product in the committed time frame and with the desired quality. A good result or a non-success of the product is never credited to a single team member but always to the Scrum Team as a whole.

Characteristics of a Scrum Team:

Scrum teams have the following attributes:

  • The team as a whole is responsible for the delivery of the project
  • The Scrum Team is self-dependent and empowered
  • There aren’t any sub-teams under the Scrum Team
  • All team members are collocated
  • The skills within the Scrum Team are balanced
  • The team is cross-functional and holds mutual accountability

Scrum Master:

A Scrum Master is a part of the Scrum Team who holds the responsibility to ensure that the Scrum Team abides by the Scrum theory, rules and practices. He is not the same as a Team Leader. A Team Leader leads the team as well as assigns tasks to the team members, whereas a Scrum Master ensures that the team is working according to the rules and that they have understood the Scrum method entirely. They act as an advisor for the team and are on a continuous lookout for the team’s improvements.

Responsibilities of a Scrum Master:

A Scrum Master has several important responsibilities, to name a few:

  • Act as a coach for the Scrum Team
  • Make sure that the Scrum Team is protected from any external requests or disruptions
  • Facilitate the Scrum Events
  • Take measures to maximize the productivity of the team
  • Build trust and transparency
  • Ensure that there is proper communication between the Scrum Team and the Product Owner.

Product Owner:

The Product Owner plays a very crucial role in a Scrum team. He acts as an interface between the team and the stakeholders and is responsible to ensure that the work is being in the correct order to deliver a product of the highest possible value. He works very closely with the Scrum Team and coordinates their activities throughout the project.

Responsibilities of a Product Owner:

A Product Owner has several responsibilities:

  • Communicates with the stakeholders  (customers, marketing, etc.) and discusses the required functionality. These are then filtered and prioritized before being handed over to the team.
  • He is the only person who is allowed to manage the Scrum Product Backlog and keep it in the order of the priority.
  • Responsible for making it to the project goal, hence creating and maintaining the release plan.
  • Make sure that all members of the team understand what is required of the project.
  • The team reports the results to the Product Owner during the sprint review.
  • He makes the schedule, scope and trade-off decisions.
  • Responsible for the ROI of the product.

Scrum Events (Ceremonies)

Scrum Events

To create regularity and to minimize the need for undefined meetings in Scrum, there are a few prescribed events in Scrum. All of these events are time-boxed and are conducted on a regular basis. The Scrum Events are stated below:

  • Sprint
  • Sprint Planning
  • Daily Scrum Meetings
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective

Sprint:

 A Sprint is a time-boxed period in which specific work is completed, that is, the team works together to develop a product incrementally. Sprints are usually of a duration of one month or less. A new Sprint starts as soon as the previous Sprint gets over. The main motive behind a Sprint is to provide a pattern to work on for the team.

Sprint Planning: 

A Sprint Planning is a meeting where the Product Owner along with the Development Team discusses the prioritization of the product backlog items and plans the delivery of the final product. It occurs at the beginning of a sprint. The work that is to be performed in a sprint is discussed and planned in this meeting. It is the responsibility of the Scrum master to make sure that the meeting takes place and that the team understands the purpose.  

The necessary inputs for Sprint Planning are:

  • Product Backlog
  • Constraints
  • Sprint Goal
  • Team capabilities

Daily Scrum Meeting:

 A daily scrum meeting is commonly termed as a daily stand-up meeting, where all team members meet to discuss their progress since the last stand-up meet. It is a time-boxed meeting of 15 minutes.

The main objective of this meeting is to discuss:

  • Work in progress
  • Create a plan for the next 24 hours.
  • Sprint backlogs, if any
  • Any new information

Sprint Review: 

After the end of each Sprint, the development team along with the stakeholders hold a session to discuss the updates of the backlog items and receive feedback for the same. This session is known as the Sprint Review.

The possible outcomes of the Sprint Review are:

  • Demonstrate the results of the sprints
  • Revised Product Backlog
  • Cancel any further development, if needed
  • Respond to questions
  • Receive feedback
  • Resolve the impediments

The final result of the Sprint Review is the revised Product Backlog, which acts as the Product Backlog for the upcoming sprint.

Sprint Retrospective: 

The Sprint Retrospective is a technique which is used for continuous improvement. It is conducted after the Sprint Review, preceding the upcoming Sprint Planning. In this meet, the Scrum Team examines the previous sprint and creates a plan for enhancement which can be put into action in the upcoming sprint. The Development Team, Product Owner and Scrum Master participate in this meet.

The important inputs are:

  • Data about team performance
  • Improvement backlog
  • The focus of the team

Scrum Artifacts

The Scrum Artifacts present the development team and the stakeholders with the key information that they need to be aware of. The main objective of the Scrum Artifacts is to provide transparency and opportunities for inspection and adaptation. It reflects a team’s progress towards the sprint goal.

The Scrum framework defines three artifacts:

  • Product Backlog
  • Sprint Backlog
  • Product Increment

Scrum Artifacts

Product Backlog: 

Product Backlog outlines all the requirements that are needed for a project, product or system. It can be considered as a to-do list of all the changes that are to be made to a project. The Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog, where he can add, change and re-prioritize the tasks as needed. It is a living artifact as the requirements never stop changing. Any changes in the business requirements, market conditions or technology may result in changes in the Product Backlog.

A Product Backlog may contain functional, non-functional, infrastructural, and architectural elements. They also work on the important risks that are needed to be removed or mitigated.

The Product Backlog is refined and revised periodically so that it can be helpful for the next level of planning. This is known as Product Backlog Refinement. The Development Team along with the Product Owner estimate the items in it, which includes order, description, estimate, and value.

The major activities involved during the backlog refinement are:

  • Asking questions to the product owner for precise information
  • Creating new user stories
  • Deleting stories that are no longer required
  • Estimating or re-estimating the user stories
  • Refining stories for preparation of future sprints
  • Re-prioritising the stories
  • Reviewing the highest priority stories

Sprint Backlog: 

A Sprint Backlog is a list of items that are taken from the Product Backlog which are to be completed within a Sprint. It also contains a plan to deliver the product increment and to realize the sprint goal. The development team plans and gives a forecast about the changes or increment in the functionality that will happen during the sprint, along with the work that is required to deliver the implemented functionality.

The Development Team is responsible for creating and maintaining the Sprint Backlog. As soon as new work comes in, the development team adds it to the Sprint Backlog. The team can change, add, remove or modify the tasks any time as needed. The scrum master can give advice and make suggestions about any missing task(s).

The Sprint Backlog needs to be updated by the team at least once every day. A sprint starts only when all the team members agree on the fact that the Sprint Backlog is achievable.

The Sprint Backlog can be monitored and the work which is remaining can be calculated. By doing this, the likelihood of successfully achieving the Sprint Goal can be concluded as well, which will help the development team to manage its progress.

Product Increment: 

Product Increment is the most important Scrum Artifact. It is the sum of all the Product Backlog items that have been completed in the sprint along with the values of the increments produced in the previous sprints. An increment is the product of a project which is potentially shippable. It should be acceptable by the Product Owner regardless of whenever he decides to release it.

Challenges faced in applying Scrum and how to overcome them

Challenges faced in applying Scrum and how to overcome

Mastering the rules and practices of Scrum is not that simple. It will require a lot of time and effort to do so.

Scrum doesn’t promise to fix all problems, but it helps bring them out in the open. Scrum can be mastered by facing different challenges and overcoming them. Scrum will certainly not fail you in doing so as it is designed to work for you, as long as you know how to make it work.

Let’s address the common challenges that teams and organisations face during the implementation of Scrum and look at the possible solutions.

1. Resistance to change

Organisations are generally resistant to changes. Change can be difficult and uncomfortable, hence people generally avoid it. Scrum may prove to be challenging to deploy for established organisations. The major challenge that they face is the change from yearly or semi-annual releases to weekly iterations. For an organisation to start using Scrum, it will require a shift in the fundamental mindset which will change the old habits and bring along new, more effective ones.

Get out of comfort zone: It is very important to understand what an individual’s true feelings are towards adopting Scrum and why they resist changes. Learn about them and find measures to help them overcome it.
An incremental approach can be observed as well. Start small, that is, involve one team and showcase their results. Let their experience inspire others.

2. Distributed team

A major issue that a distributed (Scrum) team faces is communication. Conflicting working hours and a difference in time zones may diminish the overall effectiveness of the team, making collaboration difficult in many cases. Lack of communication may cause delays or unnecessary errors, which can lead to poor sustainability, ultimately affecting productivity.

Everyone should be on the same page: It is very important to be considerate of the fact that team members of different nationalities will have different traditions. Apart from this, coordination and trust are very important as well. One can also take the following practical measures:

  • A boot camp can be conducted where the whole team can come together. These sessions can give an understanding of a customer’s requirements and goals.
  • Designated members can be relocated to different places, where they can work with the resident team on a temporary basis.
  • Team members working in different time zones should be provided with different facilities like video conferencing, instant messaging software, and desktop-sharing abilities.
  • Teams can be paired across different locations. It functions in a way that when one member is clocking off for the day, his corresponding team member may be starting his day across the globe. He can take over the work and continue working.

3. Handling bugs and high-priority tasks: 

One can receive unexpected and urgent requests from stakeholders and customers. Bugs might also arise in the process. Some of these can be added to the Backlog, though it is recommended not to add all of them. They might be needed to be taken care of as soon as possible.

Assign a person for the same and allow more time for bug fixing: Assign a person from the team who will focus all of his attention on tasks like fixing bugs, responding to urgent requests, etc. Also, with the development of progress, increase the time allocated for bug fixing.

Scrum Vs Kanban

Agile is a set of principles and ideas while Scrum and Kanban are frameworks that help teams and organizations to put these agile principles and values into practice to get things done.

Kanban and Scrum follow the same principles, while their practices differ. The main aim behind both of these frameworks is to help you build better products.

Kanban in a nutshell:

Kanban is a tool which is used to organize work so that efficiency can be improved. Like Scrum, Kanban breaks down its work into small chunks and makes use of a Kanban Board. The Kanban Board is used to keep track of the work as it advances through the workflow. It not only displays the workflow but also optimizes the flow of tasks within different teams. The work to be done is time-bounded in Scrum, whereas Kanban limits the amount of work to be done in a condition, that is, it limits the ongoing tasks and the to-do list. Kanban visualizes the work and limits the work in progress so that the efficiency can be improved.

There are several differences in the philosophies and practical applications of Kanban and Scrum, as well as many individual differences. Let’s have a look at them.

ScrumFactorKanban
The Scrum Team consists of the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and the Development Team.Team RolesThere are no defined roles in a Kanban Team. The roles need not be cross-functional.
Each sprint is estimated or planned based on the Backlog Sheet.Work BoardWorkflow/ Work Item/ Kanban Board is used to track the work.
Scrum emphasises on regular, fixed sprints.ScheduleThere is no iteration or time-boxing in Kanban. It has a continuous flow.
No changes are made during the Sprints.Change philosophyChanges can happen at any time during the process.
Releases are made at the end of each sprint.ReleaseThere is a continuous delivery in Kanban.
Best applicable for teams which have stable priorities that will not change much over time.ApplicationBest applicable for projects which have a lot of varying priorities.
Productivity is measured using velocity through sprints.Productivity MeasurementMeasures productivity by measuring the amount of time that a team takes to complete a piece of the project from the starting till the end.

List of Scrum certifications

Scrum Master certification is one of the oldest and also the most popular certification in Agile. Certifications help and are needed because they are a confirmation on the implementation and also a verification of the knowledge gained.

They validate your knowledge in Agile and Scrum.

The most popular certification programs are:

  1. Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM: Scrum Alliance)
  2. Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO: Scrum Alliance)
  3. Certified Scrum Professional® (CSP: Scrum Alliance)
  4. SAFe® Agilist (SA)
  5. SAFe® Program Consultant (SPC4)
  6. Professional Scrum Master™ (PSM: Scrum.org)
  7. Certified Scrum Developer® (CSD: Scrum Alliance)
  8. LeSS (Large Scale Scrum)
  9. Scrum Master Certified (SMC™)
  10. Certified Agile Leader (CAL: Scrum Alliance)
  11. SAFe® 4.0 Advanced Scrum Master
  12. SAFe® 4.0 for Teams
  13. Professional Scrum Product Owner™ (PSPO: Scrum.org )
  14. SAFe® 4.0 Product Manager/Product Owner

Most of the basic certifications do not require any experience as a Scrum Master and can be taken up directly after completing training. However, the Advanced certifications require completion of basic certification and work experience ranging from a minimum of 1 to 2 years.

In conclusion

The Scrum Framework is simple and easy to understand, and so are the rules, artifacts, roles, and events. Scrum doesn’t keep a count of the amount of time that you have spent working but measures the tasks that have been accomplished. It makes one more efficient with their time and work.

It is ideal for complex and difficult projects as the tasks are broken down into small user stories. The transparency throughout the development cycle along with the distribution of roles and planned events are added advantages. Progress can be observed in a small amount of time which might even lead to quick releases.

But, if the team is accustomed to the traditional Waterfall model, then they might feel difficulty in adopting Scrum. But the long-term benefits outweigh the problems faced in the initial learning curve, making it a cogent framework to adopt for your organization.

KnowledgeHut

KnowledgeHut

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KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.
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Stories to be worked on in a sprint should be selected on the basis of priorities.,Step 7: Track the progress of a sprint.Team members should update their tasks and story records on a daily basis to communicate regarding their progress.Step 8: Track the progress of the release.This is done to make sure that the team is completing stories and is on track to achieve the goal.Characteristics of Agile:The process of Agile Software Development involves cross-functional teams working concurrently on various phases like planning, designing, requirement analysis, etc. A working model becomes available at the end of each iteration. The following are the salient characteristics of Agile:Small sized, co-located,  self-organized teams work together in cross-functional ways to deliver business value.Management supports redistributed decision making.Face-to-face iteration replaces temporary documentation.The process supports full transparency, inculcating trust.Makes improvement in a continuous process, making it a part of the culture of the company.Short loops of feedback help in delivering high quality of products.Functions in small, cross-functional teams, which has proven to be more productive than larger teams.The process of continuous testing measures the progress as well as prevents defects.The transition of the project from one phase to another is smoother as the team has a proper, balanced distribution of tasks.All members act as leaders in the project as they lead and take responsibility in their respective project phases. A project is not complete if one member does not do their part.Working with Agile in a distributed team environmentFor a team working together, communicating in person is more sought after than being distributed over multiple locations. It is recommended to co-locate your team, but many times teams are unable to do so for critical business reasons. There’s more to the challenges faced by the distributed software team:Coordinating across different time zones.Building a good rapport when everyone is not present in the same officeCollaborating with different development cultures.Scheduling meetings when both teams are online for a short period of time.Under such situations, teams need to learn to follow Agile principles and practices in a distributed environment. This section discusses this in detail.Additional Communication responsibilities:Each team member needs to put in extra effort when working with remote team members and communicating with them, emphasizing more on the importance of being available and open.Dedication:All team members should be committed and dedicated to making Agile work in a distributed environment. The management must support the processes and tools required to do so.Even Distribution of Work:All team members should have a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities, along with an equal distribution of work. If there is an imbalance in the workload and it is being ignored, then it might risk the schedule of the project delivery.   Pair Programming:In pair programming, two members of the team sit side by side and work on the same code. It is a challenging task for distributed teams. This can be replaced by a virtual experience, like having a video-conferencing as a solution.Understand the Time Difference:Teams face a lot of communication problems if their team members work in different time zones. You can help your team across the world by making them aware of the different time zones in which the team members are working. Using a  physical map with pushpins depicting how the team is distributed, is an example for the same.Use the right tools and training:Identify the tools that will help your team. Get consents from your team members and see if the tool will be helpful for the team or not for that project. Most importantly, train your team on the tools. Don’t expect the team members to know about the new tools and how to use them without any practice.  Train them for the same.With many organizations going global, distributed teams are becoming a common culture to work in. Agile, along with additional efforts by the team, will work well with the distributed teams.Different Agile FrameworksThere are various methods and frameworks that are used by businesses and organizations in the world of development and manufacturing. To name a few:Extreme Programming(EX)ScrumFeature Driven Development (FDD)Dynamic Systems Development Method(DSDM)Crystal MethodologyKanban Method (Lean or Agile)Pragmatic ProgrammingLean DevelopmentUnified ProcessRational Unified ProcessScrum at a glanceScrum is a framework which is used by teams to help them manage their work. It implements Agile principles as a set of artifacts, roles, and practices.Scrum Roles: Scrum has specified three important roles, namely Product Owner, Scrum Master, Scrum Team.Product Owner:A Product Owner holds the responsibility for the product that the team is building and why they are building it. Moreover, he is responsible for keeping the backlog up-to-date and in the order of the priority.Scrum Master:He holds the responsibility to ensure that the team is following the scrum process. They are in the continuous look out for the team’s improvement, while at the same time work on resolving the backlog issues that arise during the sprint.  Scrum Team: The individuals who comprise the team with the responsibility of building the product. They are the engineer of the product and its quality.Scrum Events: Scrum events are used in order to create regularity. All the events are time-boxed, that is it cannot exceed the fixed maximum duration. The elements of Scrum Events are Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum Meetings, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.Sprint: A product incremental is developed in a Sprint. It is usually of a duration of one month or less. The main motive is to provide a pattern to work for the team and the business.Sprint Planning: The work to be performed in a Sprint is discussed and planned in a Sprint Planning meeting.Daily Scrum Meetings:It is a 15-minute meeting held for the team which is conducted on a daily basis. The main motive is to understand the work done since the previously held scrum meeting and to create a plan for the day. It is often referred to as the Daily Stand-up Meeting.Sprint Review: A Sprint Review is held at the end of every Sprint. The team sits along with the stakeholders to discuss what was done in the Sprint. The main objective of this meeting is to obtain feedback for further progress.Sprint Retrospective: It occurs after a Sprint Review and prior to the next sprint planning. The main goal is to introspect and improve in order to make the next Sprint even more effective.Scrum Artifacts: It is like a logbook which provides the Scrum team and the stakeholders with the information that they need to be aware of, like the understanding of the project under development, the activities done and being planned in the project. The Scrum Artifacts are Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Product Increment.Product Backlog: It is a prioritized list of values that a team can deliver made available by the Product Owner to the Scrum Team. The Product Owner adds, changes and re-prioritizes the product backlog as needed.Sprint Backlog:It is the list of items that a team plans to deliver in the sprint. The sprint starts when all the members of the team agree that the Sprint Backlog is achievable.Product Increment: This is the most important Scrum Artifact. The product of a Sprint can be known as an Incremental if the produces product is potentially shippable. It should meet all of the quality criteria that are set by the Product Owner and the team.  What is Scaled Agile Framework SAFe®?Scaled Agile Framework provides a simple, lightweight experience for the software developing team, where they can apply lean-agile practices at the enterprise level. It can handle the needs of large value streams and complex system developments, despite being simple and light in weight. Its framework is divided into three segments: Team, Program, and Portfolio.SAFe® allow teams to do the following:Implement Lean-Agile software at an enterprise levelIt is based on the principles of  Lean and AgileIt is designed to meet the needs of all stakeholders within an organization.DevOps Vs AgileUsing Agile and DevOps are considered to be the best approach for bringing change within a team or an organisation. One of the most common questions that come across people’s mind is how are Agile and DevOps related to each other. In this regard, it must be noted that DevOps did not emerge as a response to Agile; rather these two are discrete approaches. DevOps slowly grew as a means to plug the communication gap in Agile development.Let's have a look at what this actually means and how Agile and DevOps are related.What is DevOps?DevOps is a culture which promotes collaboration between the Development and Operation Team. It helps in deploying code to production in a faster and automated way., increasing the organization’s speed to deliver applications and services.Difference between Agile and DevOps.AgileProject Trait or FactoDevOpsIt is an iterative approach that focuses on the collaboration, customer feedback and small releases of the product.DefinitionIt is an approach that brings together the practice of development and operations team.It focuses on constant changes.TaskFocuses on constant testing and delivery.Manages complex projects.PurposeManages end-to-end engineering processes.Provided by the customers.FeedbackProvided by the internal team.Agile doesn’t emphasize on automation.AutomationDevOps primary goal is Automation.Can be implemented with a range of frameworks like sprint, safe and scrum.ImplementationDoesn’t have any commonly accepted framework. Its primary goal is focusing on collaboration.Smaller the team, even a few people will work on the project, meaning they can move faster.Team SizeThey have a relatively larger team size as it involves stack-holders.Emphasizes on getting all of its members trained so that they can be familiar with the skills.Skill SetDevelopment and operation teams divide and spread the skill sets between themselves.Agile targets Software DevelopmentScopeDevOps targets end-to-end business solution and faster deliverySoftware DevelopingImportanceDeveloping, testing and implementation all are important.Application of Agile outside SoftwareThe end result after an agile application is a product or a project that will meet best with the customer needs, while at the same time deliver it with minimal cost and time, enabling organisations to attain results earlier as compared to the results obtained via the traditional approaches.The roots of Agile Software Developments are lean, agile manufacturing and organizational learning. Looking at these roots, one can realise that they did not originate in the world of software. Many practices of Agile like Stand-up meetings, prioritization, and visual management originated outside software.These techniques are applied in the development sector of non-software products as well, such as computers, medical devices, computers, food, clothing, etc. Principles of Agile Software Development have found applications in general management platforms, like finance, governance, risk, etc.Common Myths about AgileMyths and misunderstandings are common to spread over any method or framework. With time, it becomes a belief and people start to accept it as common knowledge. Read along to know some of the most common myths that have been growing around Agile.Implementation of Agile is easy:Teams should not just learn the best practices of Agile, but should also be able to judge if the selected project is the right fit for agile. They should evaluate if the organization can adopt the values and principles of agile. It is very important for the organisation to invest the time, effort and resources to institute and establish the expectations, culture, and infrastructure to hold up the implementation of Agile methodology. Practice and commitment are very much required as well.Agile Practice is New:Agile has been in practice since the greater part of the last century. The frameworks which are now collectively known as Agile mostly evolved during the late 1980s and 1990s. Hence, many people are familiar with Agile.  Reading is enough to know about Agile:Reading a book to understand Agile is not enough. It is a good idea to read a book to get a good understanding, but it cannot replace practical experience, which is very important to enable an agile mindset and to transform an organisation to become agile.Agile doesn't need any planning:Planning is very vital with any approach, that is if not carried out properly, it will diminish the effectiveness of performance. Although, Agile plans the activities more evenly throughout the project life cycle. Planning starts right from the beginning of an agile project and is continuously iterated throughout the project as new information is gained. Working in this manner makes the project team more effective and help them adapt to changes in an easier way.Agile is not the same as anarchy:Managers feel that self-organisation is identical to anarchy and hence, fear losing control over their agile team. Dues to Agile, the role of management may change but managers play an integral role in their company. They have the responsibility to define visions and goals, as well as help the team to gain full potential.Agile gives prompt results: Agile transformations always go through a learning curve, but they mostly deliver huge benefits. The delivered results might go downwards before it changes to going upwards in the process before it begins to enhance its delivery capabilities.Agile is possible only with small projects:Agile development is composed of small groups, who are cross-functional and collaborative throughout the process of development. This motion is equally effective for larger projects as multiple teams can be formed where they can focus on separate components.Agile is applicable only for software deliveries:The Agile manifesto describes agile in the context of software delivery. But Agile can be used in businesses which are not software-related as Agile is suitable for any dynamic business which experiences variability.Agile Transformation vs. Agile Adoption A strong majority of organizations are already defaulting to Agile. But there is one common barrier. The lack of understanding of the differences between Agile transformation and Agile adoption. A clear perception of these differences is necessary to realize which is the best fit for your team or organization ー Agile Adoption or Agile Transformation.Agile Adoption: The word Adoption is used to describe the action of taking up or putting something into action or effect. Similarly, Agile Adoption can be referred to as the act of “doing Agile”.Agile adoption makes the process of software development simpler, faster and better.Agile Transformation: Agile Transformation refers to the process of converting a business or an organisation from its previously followed methods to ‘Agile’ methods, which will help them in continuous delivery of software in a fluid manner. The process involves a change in the mindset of all the people working in the organisation, which might not be acceptable by all.An effective Agile transformation is usually seen to happen in three stages-Organizational transformation: This entails setting up teams, defining processes, and finally, deciding how the teams will work in close collaboration.Workflow transformation: This is intended to establish a culture of “self-organization” and empower team members to effectively carry out Agile-specific ceremonies and activities.Personal transformation: This phase aims at developing a collective “Agile mindset” which fosters continuous improvement and enables team members to deliver continuous value.  Agile AdoptionFactorAgile TransformationAgile adoptions are fast. Can be measured in days or weeks.Speed of ChangeAgile Transformations take a long time. Can be measured in years.Short TermPlanning TimeframeLong TermAgile Adoption has a very rare impact.Impact on the Structure of the organization.Directly impacts the power and controls in an organisation.The team and the stakeholders might feel that has changed to become more self-organized.Change in Culture.It has a widespread impact as the whole culture is being transformed.Agile will make all the difference The future is ripe with endless possibilities for Agile, and companies across the globe are already realizing it.Various organizations around the globe are now adopting different approaches to software development according to their needs and demands.Agile has got a promising future in particular for the teams making the best use of it.In the long haul, the same teams will help their organisations by delivering products at less cost. With AI and big data becoming a core part of decision making, data-driven Agile will soon become a major focus.On a closing note, Agile and its practice do not commit to resolving each and every problem faced by an organization. But they do guarantee to establish an environment which will help them solve problems through learning, continual planning, and collaboration.The motto remains the same: to deliver a high-quality product in a shorter period of time.
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The Definitive Guide to Agile Framework

In present times, nearly all software development ... Read More

Must-have tools for Seamless Agile Management

For a long time, developers did not have a lot of freedom with their projects when it came to product development. Expected to work within the restraints provided by the top management or the sponsor of the project, and creatively limited by locked plans, developers craved to think out of the box and unleash their intuition and skills to develop a much more productive system.  This led to the rise of Agile development, a methodology that allows developers to be flexible and creative in delivering exactly what users demand. Agile management took over a whole new system of development. This management system has come a long way since its birth and has now become one of the best manifestos for project management.   However, with such a heavy structure in place, there were strenuous tasks and methods involved. To get accustomed to this manifesto, you should invest in a good Agile and Scrum certification to get well versed with the different Agile tools given below: Agile Manager This tool helps organize and guide teams from the start as they work towards developing working code for an Agile model. At the beginning of this process, the manager will gather important user stories and contemplate on how to attack the problems addressed by them.  During each code sprint, the developers record their progress on user stories and their problems. The entire progress is plotted on a dashboard so that everyone is up to date with their work. Agile Manager dashboardThe Agile Manager offers many features: Creates epics and map them to releases, features and stories Uses story points for estimation Analyses sprint performance with help of dashboard and scrum Uses templates and custom statuses for process management JIRA The JIRA tool is one of the best tools for project management. The team first makes a list of project tasks with the help of a tool called Confluence. Then they track the tasks on an interactive Kanban board that developers can update as they finish each task.  This Agile tool is integrated with other tools. Bamboo is a tool that offers continuous integration that pre-builds the code before evaluating it. Discussions take place through HipChat, and these revolve around the tasks and probable solutions.  Jira dashboardMain features offered in JIRA include: Issue tracking Boards Epics Bug tracking Custom fields Planbox Planbox is a hierarchical tool. It offers four specific levels of organizational power, thus allowing many teams to simultaneously work towards a single goal. The topmost level is called the initiative, which is broad and abstract. They contain various projects, which are filled with tasks. Planbox creates these projects and evaluates them to form a report. This report is prepared for the shareholders.  There are various amazing features like looping customer reviews and time tracking. This tool is integrated with Github for storage and Zendesk for tracking customer satisfaction.Planbox dashboardLeanKitLeankit is a very unique tool. It aims to create a conference room type of whiteboard where most projects start from. This lets members post virtual notes on it that represent tasks, user stories or glitches, which should be addressed later.   The board has a fast update feature and lets multiple teams work together in separate spaces while still coordinating together.  Leankit dashboardThe key features offered by Leankit are:Board view templates Track issues and bugs Manage project portfolios Lean metrics and reporting Proggio This is a next generation project management tool which focuses on and around the team instead of the task. It has a good visual representation that allows managers to create a full-project blueprint. This promises team clarity and increased planning capabilities.With the powerful task management tool, every team member is sure to be on track, and the virtual portfolio is an added accessory that helps tabulate developer progress.  Now, chasing around team members for every update is no longer necessary! Any and all progress report by the team members will clearly be reflected in the project timeline.  Proggio dashbarodThey main features offered by Proggio include: Board and List views Visual tracking Better timelines Choose the Agile tool best suited for your business In this vast market, there are unlimited tools created for Agile, but the above-mentioned are the ones which yield the best results. This will help you evaluate and find the tool that functions best for your context and is comfortable for your team. With every team applying their unique approach to the Agile methodology, choosing the right tool may appear to be a rather difficult task. However, once the Agile manifesto is in place, things are sure to run quite smoothly and profitably.  Be sure to check our latest course schedules for Agile and Scrum and take strides ahead with your professional growth in Agile.
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Must-have tools for Seamless Agile Management

For a long time, developers did not have a lot of ... Read More

How to Use Scrum Board for Agile Development

What is a Scrum Board?A Scrum Board or an Agile Board is a visual representation of the work planned, progressed, and completed by a scrum team in a sprint or iteration at any given point of time. The board is comprised of columns that represent various successive states of the workflow progressing from left to right. The work items appear in the column as per their current state in the development workflow and then move across the board from one column to the next till they reach completion or last stage.The “To Do / Ready” and “Done” states appear in almost every Scrum Board, the “In Progress” items can be further categorized into various states e.g. – Analyse, Design, Code, Test etc. These states are solely created as per the needs of the Scrum Team and Project.Image 1: Simple Scrum BoardWhy is a Scrum Board needed? The Scrum Board visually represents the amount of work along with their current states in a Sprint.  The Board speaks to the team everyday about the holistic progress made by the entire team towards their Sprint Goals and provides a sense of accomplishment and achievement when work items are completed. It avoids creation and progress of “Hidden Work” or “Shoulder Tap” injected work that may not be prioritized. In the event of an interruption (like production issue, any new or changed requirements, changed priorities), it helps Business to reprioritize the work items quickly looking at the current state of the planned items in the Sprint.   It also keeps reinforcing road blocks and impediments faced by the team to all the major stakeholders. Any number of written and verbal communication may not be able to visually represent the state of the entire sprintas a whole as effectively as this visual radiator.Scrum board allows teams to manage the flow of work across the sprint as it helps in avoiding multi-tasking, overloading one person because everything is visible and traceable. How to organize a Scrum Board Physical and Virtual Scrum Boards Teams that are entirely collocated can benefit from physical boards that caneven just be a whiteboard placed near their work cubicles. A physical board could also be on a wall having coloured tape for columns and sticky notes for cards.  Team members typically swarm around the board /agile wall/task wallduring their daily stand up or whenever there is a need. Image 2: A typical physical scrum boardImage 3: A typical Jira scrum boardDistributed teams on the other hand find virtual boards easy to use. There are many tools available in the market to set up Scrum Boardssuch asJira , Rally , Monday.com etc.  In some companies, the Scrum boards are displayed on giant monitors placed near the teams work cubicles. Cards and Columns are the two basic entities on the scrum board.Card is the entity on the board that represents a “Work Item”. A Card can be a User story /Production Bug/Technical Task. During the course of the Sprint these cards travel through the board from left ,“To-Do” to right “Done”.  A Simple Scrum Board for Beginner Teams The Scrum Board below is an example of a typical team board in a software project. Image 4: Typical scrum board for a software projectThe items on the Product Backlog are discussed and as per priority and their readiness, pulled into the “To Do” or “Ready” column during Sprint Planning. At the beginning of a Sprint all items in the “To Do” or “Ready” column comprises the Sprint Backlog of the team. As the Sprint progresses, the items move into the downstream columns until “Done” is reached. A clear “Definition of Done” helps to conclude if the story / task is completed. Usually beginner teams build the board translating the current workflow of their work items into columns on the board. As the teams evolve, they adjust the board accordingly. Effective Visual Representation of data  Information on the Cards Physical Cards usually are post-it notes or sticky notes that carry the User Story/Description, Acceptance Criteria and the Story Points as a minimum. Using post-it notes is a deliberate attempt to keep the story small and avoid loading a lot of work into one story.  In a Virtual board, cards can have exclusive fields to carry information like Project Name/Assignee/Reporter/Created Date etc. These might serve multiple purposes like metrics/reports. Colour-Coded Cards Colour coding is an excellent technique used to convey important information to the audience at the first quick glance.Cards can be colour coded based on their work type like User Story/ Technical Task/Production Bugs. Cards could also be flagged (in the case of a Virtual board) or overlaid with a (preferably) Red coloured card to convey a risk/dependency that needs attention. Swim lanes Defining Swim lanes is a very useful mechanism to categorize the work items on a Scrum Board. They are horizontal rows on the board that carry a specific type of work that is different from the normal/ work categorized by a certain parameter. For e.g. a team that has to resolve emerging high priority production bugs would prefer to use a “Fast Track” swim lane to progress the bug and then continue with their original Sprint work. A team that works on hardware, firmware and software components in a sprint might want to use different swim lanes for each component.  Swim lanes are for the teams. Creating a swim lane for each team member may not be a good idea since the basic guideline for scrum is to work as a team and this representation might affect a team’s mindset. In the board below blue cards are User Stories and green Cards are tasks. Red cards are Production bugs. Some cards are flagged red indicating risks or impediments. Image 5: Example of scrum board with colour-coded cards and swim lanesAspects of Kanban in Scrum BoardA common challenge encountered in projects is when tasks accumulate or pile up in a phase or stage of the workflow. There could be several reasons why that happens. But identifying them is the key to solving that challenge and the Scrum Board effectively helps in this. Assume that Cards D, E, F, G have completed development and ready for testing. Cards B, C are being tested. It is day 6 of a 10-day Sprint.  Developers might now bring in H, I from the Ready Column to start development work, creating a bottleneck at Testing. Image 6: Scrum Board without WIP LimitsConcepts of Kanban can be borrowed into a typical Scrum board to address this. One of the techniques that can be used is to split the column into “In Progress” and “Ready”. This will set the stage for a “Pull” mechanism at every stage in the workflow of a story.  Introducing “WIP Limit” or “Work in Progress” Limit at the columns ensures multiple work items do not pile up at one stage of the process, do not get “pushed” downstream but rather gets “pulled” by downstream process and there is a steady flow created in the system. Considering the team is at day 6 of the iteration, it is recommended the team “stops starting and starts finishing”.  If the team swarms and completes the testing of D, E,F,G there could  be more business value delivered rather than starting development of H and I and having only few of the Development complete cards partially tested. In this scenario, a WIP Limit of 4 at development prevents the team from bringing in more work items into the development phase. The team can now swarm to complete the testing of the developed items taking them to completion.  Image 7: Scrum board with WIP limits and columns split into “In progress” and “Ready”Effective use ofthe Scrum Board  Updating and maintaining the Scrum Board Scrum board is owned by the team and it is the team’s responsibility to update the board to reflect the reality.The team also has the responsibility to evolve the board to suit the need of the project by experimenting on concepts of WIP Limit. How best to use the information on the Board Scrum Board can be used to identify bottlenecks in the flow of work. If bottlenecks are identified in one stage of the workflow, the team can resort to Swarming or enforcing WIP Limits. Seeing the work items move through the Scrum board and reach “Done” during the Sprint provides the team a sense of accomplishment. Challenges and ways to overcome them Easier said than done, updating the board is one of the biggest challenges faced especially in beginner teams. Not every team member will be prompt in updating the board. To overcome this challenge, updating the board could be one of the team ground rules with non-compliance attracting fun consequences decided by the team, such as the defaulter treating the team with chocolates/coffee or updating everyone’s scrum board the next day. The Scrum Master can immensely help the team realize the power of the board by using it during agile ceremonies like planning, stand up and retrospectives. Facilitating the scrum by traversing the board from right to left (i.e.“Done” to “To-Do”) is another tactic to keep reinforcing the value of the board and motivating the teams.Having conversations in stand-ups by traversing the board from right to left will first bring up cards that are done or almost done and helps see what has been accomplished in the sprint.  What a Scrum Board is not A Scrum Board cannot replace the conversations and interactions that are always encouraged in Agile projects. Flagging a card on the scrum board / posing queries on a card should not solely replace the conversations around these. A Scrum Board is not for executives to monitor the team’s progress and efficiency, but it is for the team to monitor their sprint items as a whole. Key takeaway A Scrum Board is an excellent tool for the team to visualize their work, look at everyday progress, identify bottlenecks, make immediate course corrections, so that they can meet their Sprint goals. Used rightly, it will serve the team and benefit them. However, if it is used by management to monitor the team or if the team members consider it as a tool to update management then it loses its purpose and becomes just another overhead. 
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How to Use Scrum Board for Agile Development

What is a Scrum Board?A Scrum Board or an Agile Bo... Read More

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