When is SCRUM Appropriate?
Scrum is meant for those kinds of work which people have found unmanageable using existing (defined) processes like uncertain requirements combined with unpredictable technology implementation risks. While deciding whether to apply Scrum in any organization, as opposed to plan-driven approaches, one should always consider whether the underlying mechanisms are well-understood or whether the work depends on collaboration and knowledge creation.
The Scrum Team consists of three roles: a ScrumMaster, a Product Owner, and the Team.
The ScrumMaster is the keeper of the scrum process who is responsible for the following:
• Ensuring that the project is run smoothly
• Removing bottlenecks/obstacles that impact productivity
• Organizing and facilitating the critical meetings
2. Product Owner
The Product Owner has the responsibility of maximizing the value of the product and the work of the team along with managing the Product Backlog.
Product Backlog management includes:
• Presenting Product Backlog items clearly
• Ordering the Product Backlog items to best achieve goals and missions.
• Optimizing the value of the work the Team performs.
• Ensuring that the Product Backlog is visible, transparent, and clear to all, and shows what the Team will work on further.
• Ensuring that the Team understands items in the Product Backlog to the level needed.
The Product Owner may do the above work or have the Team do it, but the accountability remains on the product owner.
The Product Owner may represent the aspirations of a committee in the Product Backlog, but if anyone wants to change a Product Backlog item’s priority, they must address the Product Owner.
The decision of the Product Owner if final and the entire organization must respect it since the decisions are visible in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog. The team has to work accordingly and don’t have to follow anyone else. This is ensured by ScrumMaster.
3. The Team
The Team involved is self-organizing and works across different functional modules and so is comprised of analysts, designers, developers, testers, etc. as appropriate and as relevant to the project.
This team is usually referred as the development team and such a reference is leading to controversy that the team only consists of developers. It is obviously a misconception only. For any software development, it is required that all the roles are collaborating and that is the essence of scrum. Cross-functional teams have all competencies and expertise needed to complete the work without any dependency, and thus saving time and effort. This team model in Scrum is solely designed to optimize flexibility, creativity, and productivity.
Team size should be kept optimal. By optimal we mean small enough to remain nimble and large enough to complete significant work within a Sprint. The Team size is preferably five to nine people. Having less than five team members decrease interaction and leads to smaller productivity gains. For more than nine members much coordination is needed.
On a daily basis the scrum team works together closely, to ensure the smooth flow of information and the timely resolution of issues. It delivers product iteratively and incrementally, maximizing opportunities for feedback. Incremental deliveries are important so that a potentially useful version of working product is always available.
ScrumMaster is a person who renders services as described below:
1. ScrumMaster Services to the Product Owner
• Finding effective techniques for Product Backlog management
• Helping the Scrum Team in understanding Product Backlog items
• Understanding product planning
• Ensuring that the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog
• Understanding and practicing agility
• Facilitating Scrum events as and when needed
2. ScrumMaster Services to the Scrum Team
• Training the Scrum Team in self-organization and cross-functionality
• Helping the Scrum Team to create high-value products
• Removing obstacles to the Scrum Team’s progress
• Organizing Scrum events as requested or whenever needed
• Training the Scrum Team in organizational environments wherein Scrum is not yet fully implemented
3. ScrumMaster Services to the Organization
• Facilitating and planning adoption and implementation of Scrum
• Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development
• Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team
• Working with other ScrumMasters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization
EVENTS (How SCRUM works?)
Scrum Process Framework can be viewed by means of a series of events and the corresponding artifacts. These events are time-boxed events which means that in a project, every scrum event has a predefined (maximum) duration. The vital events of scrum are:
• The Sprint
• Sprint Planning
• Daily Scrum Meetings
• The Sprint Review
• The Sprint Retrospective
During a Sprint event, a working product Increment is developed. The duration of this event is usually two weeks or one month, and this duration remains constant for all the sprints in the project. We cannot have different durations for the different sprints in a particular project. A new Sprint follows immediately after the previous Sprint is completed.
The Sprint Goal is an objective set for the Sprint during the Sprint Planning meeting. The scope of the sprint is clarified and re-negotiated between the Product Owner and the Team as more about the requirements is learned.
A Sprint should be cancelled in case the Sprint Goal becomes obsolete. This might occur if the organization changes its working or if market or technology conditions change in the industry. It is important to note that a sprint can be cancelled only by product owner, though others also have an influence on the same.
Since the Sprints are of short durations, cancellation during a sprint doesn’t make much sense. Also, since sprint cancellations consume resources, for getting re-organized into another Sprint it is difficult and uncommon.
The Product Owner typically accepts the part of work produced during the cancelled sprint if he/she finds it potentially reasonable. The remaining incomplete Sprint Backlog Items are put back into the Product Backlog.
Sprint Planning Meeting focusses on planning the work to be done during a Sprint. Sprint Planning Meeting is typically of duration of of four hours for two weeks sprints and eight hours for one-month Sprints. The Scrum Master needs to ensure that the meeting takes place and that all the required attendees are present and understand the purpose of this meeting. He also moderates the meeting to monitor the sustenance of discussion and closure on time.
Sprint Planning focuses on the following:
• What all tasks need to be and can be delivered in the Sprint Increment?
• How will the work needed for the execution of Sprint be achieved?
The inputs to this meeting are:
• Product Backlog
• Current product Increment
• Projected capacity of the Team during the Sprint
• Past performance of the Team
The Scrum Team first talks/discuss about the the functionalities that can be developed during the Sprint and the Product Owner provides clarifications on the Product Backlog items. Since The team is the best to assess what they can accomplish in the Sprint, they selects the items from the Product Backlog for the Sprint.
The Scrum Team then comes up with a goal called Sprint Goal. It is an objective that provides insight to the Team on why it is building the Product Increment. The Team then decides on building the selected functionality from the backlog into a working product Increment. Sprint Backlog is thus, the Product Backlog items selected for this Sprint plus the plan for delivering them.
Estimation of the work to be done during the sprint is done during sprint planning which can be of varying size and/or effort. After the Sprint Planning meeting, the work is divided into tasks of the assigned duration, typically one day or less. This is to ensure that the work is easily allocated and tracked till completion. If the Team finds that it has a lot or very less work, it can renegotiate the previously selected Product Backlog items with the Product Owner.
The Team may also invite other resources who are not part of Scrum Team to obtain technical or domain advice or help in estimation, to attend the Sprint Planning meeting.
Daily Scrum Meetings
The Daily Scrum Meeting is a daily 15-minute meeting (also called Daily stand up meeting) for the entire Team, aimed to make the team understand the work since the last Daily Scrum Meeting and create the next plan. The meeting is usually held at the same place and same place every day to minimize complexity.
During the meeting, each Team member explains:
• What they did yesterday that helped the Team meet the Sprint Goal?
• What will they do today to help the Team meet the Sprint Goal?
• Is there any impediments that might prevent them from meeting the Sprint Goal?
Daily Scrum is a planning event but is mistaken to be a status tracking event
The focus of the meeting should be on how the team is doing to ensure they are on track for the Sprint Goal, and the outcome of the meeting should focus on a new or revised plan that optimizes the team’s efforts in meeting the Sprint Goal.
The Meeting is the responsibility of the Team, even though the Scrum Master coordinates the Daily Scrum Meeting and ensures that the objectives of the meeting are met.
The Team may also meet immediately after the Daily Scrum Meeting in case they need a detailed discussion or want to re-plan the rest of the Sprint’s work.
Daily Scrum Meetings have the following benefits:
• Improved communication within the Team
• Identify obstacles or bottlenecks, if any, in order to ensure an early removal of the same, minimizing impact on the Sprint
• Promoting pro-activeness
• Improved level of knowledge in the team
At the end of every Sprint, a Sprint Review is done during which a review is done on the increment that is getting released. The Scrum Team and the stakeholders collaborate in this meeting to understand what was done in the Sprint bases on which and any newly introduced changes to the Product Backlog during the Sprint, they arrive at the next steps required that could optimize value. Thus, the objective of Sprint Review is to get a feedback and progress accordingly.
The duration of the Sprint Review is normally of two hours for two-week sprints and four hours in case of one-month sprints.
The Scrum Master ensures that the meeting takes place and the participants understand the purpose. It also ensures that the meeting is focused on the required agenda and is completed within the required duration.
The following aspects are included in the Sprint Review:
• Attendees should include the team and any other stakeholders. These attendees are invited by the Product Owner
• Explaining the Product Backlog items that have been completed during the sprint and the ones that have not been completed
• Problems faced by the team during last print and the resolution measures are discussed by the team
• Demonstration of the work done by the team and answering any questions on that particular increment
• Discussion on next steps providing valuable input to Sprint Planning of the subsequent Sprint
• Review of the timeline, budget, potential capabilities, and marketplace for the next anticipated release of the product increment
• Finally, an update on the Product Backlog for the next Sprint Increment
This is the next event which occurs after the Sprint Review and prior to the next Sprint Planning. Duration of this is usually one hour meeting for two-week sprints and three hour meeting for one month Sprints.
Sprint Retrospective focuses on:
• Combining the learnings from the last Sprint (with regards to people, relationships, process, and tools).
• Identifying the deliverables that went well and potential improvements
• Creating a plan for implementing improvements to increase product quality in future sprints.
SCRUM – Benefits
Scrum ensures continuous communication and feedback approach among the customer, team members, and relevant stakeholders. Its approach of doing everything under agreed timelines and regular feedback from the product owner ensures that there is a working product available all the time. Scrum also provides various other benefits to the different roles which are described below:
Benefits to Customer
The duration of sprints is short and user stories are taken up at every sprint planning as per priority. It ensures that the features required by the customer immediately are included at every sprint delivery. Also, if there is any change request raised by the customer, it will be taken up in the ongoing sprint, or included in the following sprint. Thus, the development team promptly responds to the customer’s requirements.
Benefits to Organization
Organization can reduce overhead and rework by focusing on the effort required for development of the prioritized user stories. Customer satisfaction, customer retention and customer references will be possible due to the specific benefits of scrum to customer and increased efficiency of the development team hence, increasing the market potential of the organization.
Benefits to Product Managers
Product manager can easily ensure that the work is aligned to customer needs since Scrum facilitates quick responses, work prioritization and absorbing changes. This ensures customer satisfaction which is one of the main responsibilities of the product manager.
Benefits to Project Managers
This is basically the ScrumMaster of the project. Since all the teams collaborate during a sprint it facilitates easy and concrete planning and tracking. The use of Burndown Charts and Product backlogs to understand the progress and the work left, and the Daily Scrum meetings aware the Project Manager about the current status of the project. This ensures smooth monitoring of the project, and for planning ahead for future tasks.
Benefits to Development Team
The development team becomes more enthusiastic when they find that their work is being used due to the working incremental deliveries. Team enjoys working in collaboration. The team gets a sense that their work is being valued as it is always linked to customer stories.
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