10 Keys for Adopting Scrum

July 27, 2017
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One of the most commonly adopted agile frameworks in industry today is Scrum, more so for agile software development.  In order to adopt this framework, core principles of Scrum have to be implemented.  Various organizations have implemented agile approaches, including Scrum.

Ten keys that help a company identify changes that have to be implemented for Scrum to meet its needs.

1.   Assess its Suitability

Scrum is an incremental framework which enables a higher level workflow at the team level.  Agile software development has Scrum as one of the approaches. Scrum at its core has sprints, daily meetings and the product backlog maintains work items. Scrum Master, Product Owner and the Scrum Team are the three core roles in Scrum. Also for the product and process it includes continuous enhancement feedback loops.

The primary key for Scrum adaptation is to determine whether the framework is ideal for the projects in the company.

2. Adhere to Core Principles.

The most critical part of Scrum is to understand the core principles and adopt them. The major cause for failure of a project is not adhering to the core principles of Scrum.

The outcome of this varies from project cancellation to building the system from scratch.  This leads to the project being delayed, over budget and various other issues which affect the user needs.

3. Tailoring needs for Scrum adoption.

Implementing Scrum “by-the-book” can be a good fit for many projects, while a few companies tailor the methodology to meet their needs.  However it’s important to play by the book at initial stages of the implementation so that the fundamentals are understood and adopted. Also it’s absolutely necessary to stick to the core Scrum principles.

4.   Scrum Roles

Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Scrum team are the three core roles for Scrum. When adopting Scrum, for a project it’s important to understand the implications of implementing these roles.

Scrum Master– one who facilitates the scrum process and the team, ensures that the process is being followed, fosters cooperation between team members, and helps in decision making.

Also, he or she has to take care of outside interference and remove impediments.

Product Owner– He or she turns the features and requirements of a product into User Stories, or prioritizes the User Stories according to their business value, working closely with the Scrum team.

Scrum Team- Determines the set of work that needs to be completed during individual Sprints and creates the potentially shippable deliverables. After completion of each sprint, they demo the product  to the product owner for his or her acceptance.

5.   Collaboration.

For Scrum to be successfully adopted there has to be an emergence of a self-organized team. In order to make sure this is done a team must be made up of individuals from all disciplines required to define, build, validate and prepare the product for release.

 6. A balanced perspective.

During the adoption of Scrum, it’s important to determine the long term visibility for a team in direction of the project.  The long term visibility into the expected functionality of the project is provided in the product backlog in most of the cases.

7.  The Essentials.

A supporting essential infrastructure is required for a high quality product to be delivered. As a team plans to work to finish each Sprint, they have to maintain the required infrastructure and practices for product development.

This includes a solid build and a test frame work, creating and automatically executing unit tests, validating ongoing daily or continuous builds and developing the guidelines that need to be followed by the team.

This reduces risk, validates the quality of the product and enhances the productivity of the team.

The maintenance of an essential infrastructure should start from the first Sprint and continue for the duration of product development.

8.   Supervise the Architecture.

A characteristic of Scrum is that the requirements, planning and design emerge throughout the project.  However, without supervising the project a company can end up with two undesirable results:

One, a team can over engineer in a particular Sprint building up an infrastructure and system that’s never required,

Two, a team can spend very little time designing a Sprint and later realize the fundamentals are too weak to support the objective of the project.

It’s essential that while adopting Scrum a company ensures that individuals from the team guide the architecture of the product as it is developed.

9. Multiple aspects of a product.

While adopting scrum one common mistake that a company can commits is designing a product solely based on the end user value they provide.  This doesn’t provide a complete perspective of all the work necessary to release a product that will meet the end user’s requirements and comply with all the company constraints.

To make sure the product does both the below three aspects are recommended.

  1.  The customer value has to be defined.  This should include the functionality, non functionality requirements such as how scalable, robust and fast it has to be.
  2.  The technical value of building a new infrastructure for software development has to be defined.
  3.  The business value for the entire product development has to be defined.

10. In the end, purpose of adopting Scrum.

When a company is thinking about deploying a customized version of Scrum, it will not meet all of the requirements in the first Sprint of the project.  It’s necessary that the company deploys short Sprints and learn from the experience, making necessary changes where required.

A few common areas that typically need to be refined during adoption of scrum include:

  1. Change in the definition of done once the Sprint is over
  2. Modifications in how a team works during the Sprint
  3. Changes to team composition when unavoidable
  4. Added support from additional software development
  5. Adoption of alternate processes and practices
  6. Constant refinements to balance between change and long term visibility.
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