Agile Thoughts (Part I)

February 12, 2010 | 3 min Read

In the last few weeks i was confronted with several projects and developers, who were trying to incorporate the scrum process into their project environment. The following remarks will pinpoint some of the problems and challenges several of the projects had and what a possible solution might look like (your mileage may vary).

Upfront i have to say, that i am a strong believer in scrum and its gains. This opinion originates from the fact, that i have worked in scrum projects which turned out very well. Why did they work well? Because they applied scrum! ;-)

The Fundamentals

We all know the sentence “yeah, we are an agile team”. And next they present you their fixed road map with milestones etc. The opposite is the “no planning agility”. We just fiddle along on a daily basis. That is not agile either.

I think the sweetspot is where scrum enters the stage. The product backlog dictates your workload and the sprint backlog defines your daily work. What’s the gain? Transparency and flexibility. The two virtuoso every one wants, most people claim and the fewest projects actually have. Lets see what these two words actually mean.

Transparency - Like a glass window transparency has two sides. When looking at the team we want to know what the team is actually working on and what their progress state is. The scrum wall with its small tasks and the sprint burndown is the place to find these information. When looking at the product owner, it is his job to provide a well formed backlog. Well formed means stories with clear scope and manageable volume. From both perspectives you have the ability to intervene when necessary.

Flexibility - Flexibility allows to refocus the course of the development efforts while being way under way. Only after you have finished the current sprint you plan the next one with the stories you need the most. After your project time has elapsed you can be certain that everything that is in your project right now is what you really need. No extras. Just the right features. Admittedly we could miss a few features but that would simply require more man power or more time. Most importantly: the scope is spot on because of constant corrections of the project plan.

So that is great theory. Now on to the problems…

Oh wait. This blog post is getting to long and i have to many points on my list. So lets take a break here and discuss the above until part II is ready.

Are you applying scrum? What are the biggest gains for you?