A lightweight framework for using agile Scrum management practices
Introduction to Agile
The agile methodology was originally developed for the software industry, to enable developers to thrive in an environment of continuous change. It refers to a set of methods and practices based on the values enshrined in the Agile Manifesto. He advocates the use of incremental and iterative cycles of work known as sprints.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a process framework that reduces complexity and focuses on creating products that meet specific business requirements. While agile denotes the set of methods, a scrum refers to the framework that is used to implement the agile methodology. Scrum is a subset of agile.
This article should serve as a primer for implementing agile project management with the Scrum framework.
Where does the Agile Scrum Framework find applicability?
Agile methodologies are not only limited to the software industry, but have recently found applicability in many industries and organizations. Agile methodologies can be applied wherever there is a product involved. Both large and small organizations can benefit greatly from scrum if implemented correctly. General management also began to adopt agile. This was confirmed by field research conducted by the Learning Consortium in 2015. There is a lot of literature available on topics such as tools. Processes and methods. However, the Learning Consortium found that mindsets and people are more important than processes.
Agile key features
Satisfy the customer and continually develop software. Changing requirements are adopted for the customer to gain a competitive advantage.
Constant communication with the user’s representative to determine functionalities to incorporate.
Focused, self-organizing teams are better for agile. Cross-functional teams work as a single cohesive unit.
Project teams must be made up of motivated people. Autonomy must be granted to carry out the work. A decent work environment and support system must be established.
Focus on delivering a product that works often. The delivery preference is placed in the shortest period of time possible.
The primary measure of success is a product that works.
Resource availability and team capabilities are considered before committing to a project.
Agile processes promote sustainable development. Developers. sponsors and users maintain a constant rhythm.
Technical excellence and good design must be continuously worked on and improved.
The team regularly reflects on how it can improve and become more effective. After reflection, your work processes will be adjusted accordingly.
Benefits of Agile
There is constant communication between the project team and the client throughout the life of the project. There is a higher level of collaboration, so the team has a higher level of understanding of the customer’s requirements. The agile framework allows customers to participate in prioritizing the planning and review of new features. This encourages transparency and honest communication. In addition, the team works on creating features that offer the greatest business value to customers. All work streams are time bound, ensuring timely delivery. Costs become predictable and are proportional to the work that can be completed in each time box. Using agile methods, high-quality development and testing is performed as the project is broken down into small manageable units. Each build iteration is followed by testing and patching, so issues can be caught and fixed early. Any misalignment of expectations can also be dealt with effectively.
Basic elements of an agile Scrum
There are multiple people and processes that make up a scrum. Here is a quick overview of everything that is required to implement the agile methodology.
Scrum teams consist of developers, testers, database experts, support staff, the scrum master, and the product owner. They work closely together for a defined period of time to deliver the promised features. There are usually 7-9 people in a scrum team.
The product owner represents the interests of the user. You are given the authority to determine which features are incorporated into the final product.
The Scrum Master supervises the scrum team. He is responsible for the team’s productivity and resolving any issues or concerns that arise.
A Sprint is a predetermined interval of time in which a specific amount of work is completed. The time period can range from two weeks to a month, depending on the project and the needs of the team. During the sprint, the team works on tasks so that it is available for review, implementation, or production as the situation requires.
Scrum does not require a large amount of documentation for product requirements, they are defined through User Stories in the following format.
User stories should be short, realistic, achievable, and capable of being tested and measured. Acceptance criteria should always accompany the user story. These criteria act as supporting documents and further refine the user story. These should be written carefully, as test cases and scenarios will be written based on these acceptance criteria.
Epics are indefinite user stories that are reserved for future sprints. These represent features that may have to be incorporated into the product in the future. Most of the product features start out epic, then enough details are added, and then broken down to be implemented.
It is a repository where all user stories are stored. It can be thought of as a wish list that is maintained and prioritized by the product owner according to the user’s business needs.
During a sprint, the scrum team collects user stories from the product backlog. The team then meets to determine if the user stories can be completed in the predetermined time frame. Feasibility is also discussed. The list of user stories that the team works on in a sprint is called the Sprint Backlog.
A backlog chart is used to track the progress of a sprint. Shows the graph of estimated effort vs. actual effort for all sprint tasks.
Implementing the Agile Scrum framework
Scrum implementation does not require special training, you learn as you go. It starts with understanding the basics of agile methodology and then mastering the technique. Here are the steps that need to be followed to effectively implement the agile scrum framework.
Clearly defined roles are crucial to a successful implementation. Finding a willing Product Owner who can communicate with stakeholders and represent their business needs is important. The scrum master is responsible for all scrum events and resolves any obstacles that may affect the progress of the sprint. The scrum team commits to the sprint tasks and delivers the product. Everyone must play their role effectively to ensure a successful scrum.
It is important that no one person ever assumes the responsibility of product owner and scrum master at the same time. There should always be a balance between the two roles. The Product Owner always wants more Product Backlog items to be introduced in each Sprint, while the Scrum Master needs to make sure the team has everything he needs to execute the scrum tasks.
Create product portfolio
The product backlog can include bugs, enhancements, risks, issues, and anything else related to the product. Functional and non-functional requirements need to be added to the backlog. Everyone can contribute to the product backlog, but only the product owner can prioritize the backlog. When prioritizing the backlog, the items at the top of the list must be clearly defined and with greater attention to detail. Items at the end of the list are usually vague. As the project grows, new needs arise that are continually added to the backlog. Therefore, the backlog is never complete.
Configure Scrum Events
There is a defined set of activities to execute. These are Sprint Planning, Backlog Refinement, Daily Scrum or Stand-Up, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.
During this phase, the team commits to the work to be done during a sprint. The scope of work remains unchanged during a sprint. During the planning meeting, the items to which the team commits are discussed in detail. The entire team should be encouraged to ask questions about each item so that they understand how and what to do. Once the team commits to the work, they take responsibility for the success of the sprint. Participants in this meeting include the scrum master, the product owner, and the scrum team. The duration of the sprint should be decided according to the nature of the industry. For fast-moving software products, 1-2 weeks is an ideal sprint length.
Start the sprint
The team begins to work on committed tasks. Progress is tracked through daily stand up meetings. These daily meetings should last no more than 15 minutes and focus on three questions: What did you work on yesterday? What will you work on today? Is there something blocking your work today that you need help with?
During the sprint review meeting, the team presents the work they have done during the sprint. New features are demoed. This is an informal meeting in which no more than two hours of preparation time is allowed and the use of PowerPoint slides is prohibited. During this meeting, the team’s progress is measured against the sprint goals established in the sprint planning meeting. Participants include the scrum master, product owner, scrum team, management, and developers from other projects.
After the sprint, the team celebrates its success and reflects on its progress. The team focuses on what improvements they can make and how they can be most effective. The scrum team, the product owner, and the scrum master participate in this meeting. This meeting can be conducted as a start, stop, and continue meeting. Each team member is asked to identify the things the team must:
Start to do
stop doing it
After this exercise, the team votes on specific topics to focus on in the next sprint.
Once the first sprint is complete, the team starts over. More items are taken from the product backlog to create a new sprint backlog and start a new sprint.
Agile is a powerful tool for projects, independent of industry. It not only benefits the development team, but also provides various benefits to the customer. A project is fraught with numerous pitfalls, such as cost, unpredictable schedule, and uncontrolled growth of the project scope. Agile allows teams to deal with these obstacles in an efficient and controlled manner. With Agile, project goals are achieved through a lean, business-focused approach.