International Scrum Institute Podcast: Episodes

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #17

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #17

 
 
00:00 / 11:10
 
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Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #17 has been proudly brought to you by International Scrum Institute, https://www.scrum-institute.org

What Are The Next Steps After The Scrum Framework? This Might Surprise You!

How to Guarantee Your Position As A Successful Scrum Professional

I feel that it’s now my job to inspire you to actually implement and execute what you have learned from this material.

Let’s face it: The big, vast IT industry is not going to accommodate you with more opportunities and more business without you taking some serious initial steps. The IT industry most likely doesn’t even know you exist; up until now, you only operated as a small part of it, or you’re just getting started. The government is not going to bail you out on your difficult days, and they certainly are not going to help you to advance and conquer on your career journey.

Taking the time to pick up this book and read it suggests that you truly do want to do something different. For this, I acknowledge and congratulate you. Well done to you on getting this book. I applaud you for reading it and even more for finishing it. Now, if you want the world to give you a standing ovation, put lessons in it to work.

Interestingly, one of the most effective ways of perfecting these disciplines is to help others attain success and implement these actions themselves. When people with common goals and motivations come together, they tend to learn faster and become a support system for one another. So gather a group of like-minded and highly driven people who refuse to live by the norms of the mediocre. Assemble a study group to read this book and brainstorm it with you. Ask your co-workers, employees and bosses to read this book as a team. Then help one another apply and commit to using the actions, hold one another accountable to these commitments.

Follow now International Scrum Institute™ LinkedIn® Company Page to get connected to other like-minded professionals who can empower and inspire you in your career.

Something tells me that you didn’t pick up this book because you are comfortable or satisfied with where you’re in your career. Chances are you want to change or improve your current position. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have finished this book. Therefore, I will be happy to support you on your career journey!

Why Should You Be Getting Your Scrum Certifications Today?

A Scrum certification is the testimony of your competence in the Scrum software development and delivery process.

Scrum certification acknowledges your demonstrated knowledge and outstanding expertise in the Scrum framework after a formal multiple choice test evaluation.

Scrum software development process has been offering immense benefits to millions of professionals until today. Therefore, there is no reason that you won’t join these accomplished men and women who upgraded their careers and skills with the help of the Scrum framework.

If you still wonder, I want to assure you that you can no longer imagine a growing career without possessing a Scrum certification. It’s regardless of your role, title, and experience in Information Technology (IT) ecosystem. You even don’t have to be an IT professional anymore to understand what Scrum is, how Scrum works, and get a Scrum certification.

What Are The Next Steps After The Scrum Framework? This Might Surprise You!
Your are a Five-Star Professional! You Must Be Acknowledged and Compensated Accordingly!

Whatever you do for a living, regardless you’re part of an IT department or not, there is an essential and indisputable fact. Your tasks and professional business value you’ve been serving for your organization are dependent on and interrelated to IT, software, and agile Scrum process and principles.

Moreover, thanks to the shift of traditional business models into software as a service (SaaS) driven businesses or so-called digitalization movement, it’s no longer a voluntary decision for any professional in or outside the IT department to get certified as a Scrum professional. However, it’s a must today to get a Scrum certification.

You may be just starting your career, or you may be a seasoned IT professional. That doesn’t play a role. You need to get your Scrum certification.

Your role may or may not include people and functional management activities. It doesn’t matter too; you still need to have a Scrum certification.

You should learn Scrum software development framework and become an accomplished Scrum Professional today by getting your Scrum certification.

The Pros Of Being An Accomplished Scrum Professional

It’s now the time to recap. If you didn’t get a chance to read every word in this book, let me break down my thoughts. Here are my thoughts about the pros and cons of getting certified as a Scrum professional.

The Pros for Employees, Freelancers, Coaches and Trainers

A Scrum certification will be your recognition of competence and up-to-date know-how in the Scrum domain.
A Scrum certification will help you outcompete your peer group who do not develop themselves anymore. And remember, they’re a lot. It will help you get hired for your dream job as a certified and accomplished Scrum professional.
A Scrum certification will broaden your perspective, and it will further open up your mind for continuous learning. It will help you get more responsibilities and fantastic career opportunities.
A Scrum certification will provide a brand new toolset with which you can deliver great products and services that your clients and employers would love.
The Pros for Organizations and Employers

Scrum certifications will reduce costs by improving the efficiency of your teams, activities, and processes.
Scrum certifications will help you win projects with your trained and skilled employees that you couldn’t win otherwise.
Scrum certifications will improve employee satisfaction and commitment by encouraging them to get trained and develop skills.
Scrum certifications will improve the quality of your deliverables, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, the success and profitability of your organization.
Things To Remember After You Become An Accomplished Scrum Professional

A Scrum certification shouldn’t stop your learning. Don’t forget that getting certified as a scrum professional is just the first step. In the spirit of “inspect and adapt” which you learned from the Scrum framework, it’s still your duty and obligation to experiment, observe, and learn continuously.
There is no one size fits all solution for all organizations around the world. The Scrum software development and delivery framework is no exception to this rule. What we observed is that: Most organizations that we’re unable to get the best performance out of the Scrum framework have a common characteristic. These are the organizations that failed to adapt Scrum to their own business and ITecosystems. Therefore, again in the spirit of “inspect and adapt”, don’t see the Scrum framework as a 100% guaranteed recipe for success. Please don’t underestimate your cognitive ability to adapt it to the own dynamics of your business and IT. In fact, as a paid professional, this is what you’re supposed to do to get the best throughput and business results by using the Scrum framework.
Scrum didn’t solve all the problems we have in our IT departments. Don’t stop developing yourself with Newly emerging software development and delivery processes such as DevOps. To better understand the known flaws of the Scrum framework and how DevOps handles them, have a look at this top article at a later moment: What Are TOP 6 Differences Between DevOps and Scrum? (DevOps vs Scrum Comparison)
In conclusion, a Scrum certification is an excellent way to get started with agile software development and delivery practices.

According to a Gartner study “Becoming a Better Scrum Master” published in 2019, until 2023, 92% of companies worldwide, and 96% of companies in the United States will be adopting agile scrum practices.

Therefore, there will be no better time other than now for you to

Start learning the Scrum framework and,
Get yourself certified as a Scrum Professional with very affordable fees of International Scrum Institute™.
The only remaining question is, when are you going to get started?

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #16

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #16

 
 
00:00 / 4:32
 
1X
 

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #16 has been proudly brought to you by International Scrum Institute, https://www.scrum-institute.org

What Is A Scrum Release Plan? This Might Surprise You!

The goal of a release plan is to visualize highlevel planning for multiple Sprints, usually between three to twelve Sprints, or so-called Product Increments.

A release plan becomes the guideline that reflects expectations from a Scrum Team about:

Which features will be implemented,
In what order and when these features will be implemented.
The release plan also serves as a benchmark to monitor and control the progress of a project. A release plan serves as a target for actual deployments of software in IT production systems in two ways:

Deployment of “Milestone Deliveries” to create business value for the client before the project is complete. These Milestone Deliveries cover a subset of client requirements agreed by the Scrum Product Owner, client, and business stakeholders,
Deployment of Final Delivery, which includes all known demands and feature requests from the client and business stakeholders.
Before a release plan is created, the following artifacts and information need to be taken into account:

A prioritized and estimated Scrum Product Backlog,
The measured velocity of the Scrum Team (The velocity is estimated, or its value should be extrapolated from the past similar projects if the Scrum Team is just forming),
Success criteria imposed by clients such as schedule, scope, provided human resources allowed by the project budget).
Since a Release Plan is heavily associated with the Product Backlog, the Scrum Product Owner governs and maintains the Release Plans.

Depending on the demands and priorities of the clients, a release plan is created to satisfy one of these three goals:

Feature-Based Release Planning/li>
Date-Based Release Planning
Feature-Based and Date-Based Release Planning (The Most Typical)
Feature-Based Release Planning

What we know: Velocity of the Scrum Team, Features we want to deliver.
What we don’t know: How long do we need to deliver these features?

For Feature-Based Release Plans, the sum of user story points of requested features within a release is divided by the team velocity. That is going to reveal the number of Sprints required to complete a Milestone Delivery or Final Delivery of the product. And we make the release plan accordingly.

What Is A Scrum Release Plan? This Might Surprise You!
Date-Based Release Planning

What we know: Velocity of the Scrum Team, The Date we want to deliver.
What we don’t know: What features can we deliver until the deadline?

For Date-Based Release Plans, we multiply the team velocity by the number of Sprints we have until the release date. That is going to reveal the estimated total number of user story points the Scrum Team can deliver until the release date. And we make the release plan accordingly.

What Is A Scrum Release Plan? This Might Surprise You!
Feature-Based and Date-Based Release Planning

What we know: Velocity of the Scrum Team, Features we want to deliver, The Date we want to deliver these features.
What we don’t know: Can the Scrum Team deliver the requested features until the given deadline?

We multiply the team velocity by the number of Sprints we have until the release date. That is going to reveal the estimated total number of user story points the Scrum Team can deliver until the release date. If this number is larger than the sum of user story points of features within a release, then we’re safe.

Otherwise, the velocity of the Scrum Team needs to be extended by adding extra human resources to the team. That may not be a viable option as the Scrum team could already possess 9 people, which is the upper limit of an ideal size of a Scrum Team. Then some user stories of the project need to be delivered by another Scrum Team, which is going to work with the original Scrum Team in parallel.

Similar to a Scrum Product Backlog, a Release Plan is not a static plan. It will change during the whole project while we know more about the project. New, removed, modified user stories, and the respective changes of their estimates will influence the release plans as well. Therefore, the release plan should be revisited and refreshed at regular intervals.

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #15

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #15

 
 
00:00 / 7:44
 
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Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #15 has been proudly brought to you by International Scrum Institute, https://www.scrum-institute.org

What Is Multi-Team Coordination And Planning? This Might Surprise You!

Scrum of Scrum

After having seen the last chapter of this course, the next logical question in your mind could be how you do coordinate those different Scrum Teams. So they do work together efficiently.

That’s a fair question, and we have attempted to cover this answer too.

Scrum of Scrum Meetings

Scrum of Scrum Meetings resemble Daily Scrum Meetings. And yet, here during Scrum of Scrum Meetings, the focus is not the work of individual Scrum Team members, but the Scrum Teams themselves.

Scrum of Scrum Meetings do take place every day, and they are limited (timeboxed) to 15 minutes too. And yet depending on the complexity of the project, especially during its early stages while Scrum Teams are just forming, these meetings can take 30 to 60 minutes. That’s totally fine as well.

Common Sprint Review Meetings

Common Sprint Review Meetings with the participation of all Scrum Teams are not mandatory, but they could be very beneficial. Note that Common Sprint Review Meetings do not replace Sprint Review Meetings the Scrum Team conduct locally.

What did the team do yesterday?
What is the team planning to do today?
Are there any impediments to hinder or slow down the progress of the team?
These answers should obviously cover the user stories and interdependencies, which impact other teams too.

The Chief Scrum Product Owner and the Lead Scrum Master can jointly moderate Scrum of Scrum Master meetings. Alternatively, one of them can take over the moderation duty of these meetings, or they can choose to rotate this duty among themselves as well.

Common Sprint Review Meetings

Common Sprint Review Meetings with the participation of all Scrum Teams are not mandatory, but they could be very beneficial. Note that Common Sprint Review Meetings do not replace Sprint Review Meetings the Scrum Team conduct locally.

The participants of Common Sprint Review Meetings are the delegates from Scrum Teams and/or their respective Scrum Product Owners.

The Scrum Teams can also rotate their delegates based on their preferences. The Lead (Primary) Scrum Master carries the responsibility of moderating a Common Sprint Review Meeting.

Common Sprint Review Meetings enable all Scrum Teams to demonstrate their Shippable Product Increments to the Chief Scrum Product Owner and all other Scrum Product Owners.

In this way, the Common Sprint Review Meetings fulfill two purposes:

All Scrum Teams are now aligned about the current status of the overall project.
All Scrum Teams collect feedback for their work, and they have the chance now to take this feedback into account, while they do their upcoming Sprint Planning Meetings.
Common Sprint Retrospectives

Similar to Common Sprint Review Meetings, Common Sprint Retrospective Meetings are not mandatory, but they could be very beneficial.

Note that Common Sprint Retrospective Meetings do not replace Sprint Respective Meetings the Scrum Team conduct locally.

The participants of Common Sprint Retrospective Meetings are the delegates from Scrum Teams. The Scrum Teams can choose to rotate their delegates based on their discretion.

Common Sprint Retrospective Meetings are led by the Lead (Primary) Scrum Master. These meetings aim to find out and act on improvement potentials about how the larger Scrum project organization uses the Scrum Framework.

All issues which require the attention and collaboration of multiple Scrum Teams to resolve should be highlighted in these meetings. Their paths towards resolution need to be planned, scheduled, and followed-up.

Multi-Team Planning: The Global Scrum Product Backlog

When working with multiple teams, it is essential to manage a Global Scrum Product Backlog, which contains the user stories of all Scrum Teams. The Chief Scrum Product Owner could govern the Global Scrum Product Backlog. Yet, its contents are maintained by all Scrum Product Owners.

What Is Multi-Team Coordination And Planning? This Might Surprise You!
Team-Specific Backlogs

When necessary, the user stories from the Global Scrum Product Backlog can be broken down into more team-specific user stories.

These more detailed user stories are maintained in a Local Scrum Product Backlog. References 99 from Local Scrum Product Backlog to Global Scrum Product Backlog should be present. These references will help the Scrum Teams to see what roles their user stories play in the bigger picture of their project, and what kind of client value they’re delivering.

Sprint Scheduling

In a distributed Scrum project environment, there are two options for how you can choose to synchronize the work of different Scrum Teams.

Synchronous Sprints
Asynchronous Sprints
The first option is to use Synchronous Sprints. With Synchronous Sprints, all teams start and end their Sprints on the same day.

Synchronous Sprints are usually the preferred approach since they make communication and coordination of the Scrum Team relatively easier.

What Is Multi-Team Coordination And Planning? This Might Surprise You!
Synchronous Sprints

Another option is to use Asynchronous Sprints. With this option, the Sprints do not start and end on the same day. Using Asynchronous Sprints has the advantage that not all Scrum Rituals of individual Scrum Teams must take place on the same day. So it makes for the Chief Scrum Product Owner and other Scrum Product Owners possible to participate Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective Events of other Scrum Teams and support them when they’re asked to do so.

When one team provides services to other teams, asynchronous Sprints bring an additional advantage.

What Is Multi-Team Coordination And Planning? This Might Surprise You!
Asynchronous Sprints

Here is a great scenario to clarify this, which was depicted on the above sketch: The work of TeamA (Supplier Team) needs to be integrated into the deliverables of Team-B (Master Team). With the help of Asynchronous Sprints, Team-A can close its Sprint before the Team-B does. So, Team-B (Master Team) can pick the deliverables from Team-A (Supplier Team) and integrate them into their work before they close their own Sprint.

Effort Estimations

All Scrum Teams within the distributed Scrum Project Environment need to use the same unit (Fibonacci Numbers or Shirt Sizes, etc.) to conduct their estimates.

Similarly, the Global Scrum Product Backlog should adhere to this agreed unit of effort estimations too

Special attention needs to be paid for the estimates of Component Teams. Components Teams do usually provide services for the user stories of Feature Teams. Therefore, they should be getting the necessary support and clarifications during their own Sprint Planning Meetings and estimations.

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #14

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #14

 
 
00:00 / 15:30
 
1X
 

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #14 has been proudly brought to you by International Scrum Institute, https://www.scrum-institute.org

How To Scale The Scrum Framework (Distributed & Large Scrum Projects)? This Might Surprise You!

The Scrum Framework – as described so far – works best for a single Scrum Team in one location. However, in reality, a singular Scrum Team often cannot implement a project entirely, or the team members have to spread over multiple locations.

As a consequence, the number of teams has to increase with various distributed teams. In many instances, we have also been observing that those teams are distributed in geographically distant locations or continents.

There are numerous reasons which motivate organizations to distribute their teams across different locations:

Technical Reasons: Some knowhow to build separate components of the software are not locally available in the headquarters,
Expertise Reasons: Some capabilities related to the execution of different software engineering activities are not locally available. For instance, test automation, user interface design, or integration of in-house software to the software of other vendors can require experts outside the headquarters,
Size-related Reasons: The project takes more people on board to deliver it to its clients in a predefined timeline. If this is the case, then the project organization will need more members than it can conceivably fit one single Scrum Team. So the Scrum Team has to be distributed,
Business-related Reasons: Use of human resources from lower-cost locations or enabling the continuity of work by using engineers from different time-zones could build a good business case.
As communication is an integral part of the Scrum Framework, all Scrum Team members should pay attention to overcome the challenges to deal with working within a distributed project environment. Furthermore, all team members should have access to communication tools, including audio/video conferencing and screen sharing tools.

These commonly used project management tools support teams to enable healthy and continuous communication. Those can include product backlogs, sprint backlogs, incident lists, knowledge/ news sharing tools, and so on.

Project Organization: Multiple Teams

The simplest way of expanding the Scrum Framework while working in a larger-scale project setup is to increase the number of teams in the same location.

If multiple teams need to work together to implement a project, it is best to grow the number of teams progressively.

What does this mean to you?

How To Scale The Scrum Framework (Distributed & Large Scrum Projects)? This Might Surprise You!
Multiple Teams in a Single Location

In most organizations, progressive growth is more manageable than launching ten different new teams in one go. The best practice is to start with a single Scrum Team. After a few successful Sprints, one or two additional Scrum Teams can join the project. Once you ensure that these multiple Scrum Teams work together well, you can keep on adding further Scrum Teams to your distributed project organization.

How To Scale The Scrum Framework (Distributed & Large Scrum Projects)? This Might Surprise You!
Increasing the Number of Teams

There are two typical ways of creating new Scrum Teams:

You split an existing Scrum Team into multiple teams and add new Scrum Team members where and when necessary,
You construct a new Scrum Team from completely different engineers who haven’t involved the project so far.
Splitting an existing Scrum team has the advantage of leveraging the Scrum Team members who are already knowledgeable and who have already experienced with the ongoing project.

Therefore, those new teams are usually at least at some degree productive as soon as they’re formed. The major drawback of this scenario is that the existing and fully functional Scrum Team has now been split into two teams. That could always cause some issues with the motivation of Scrum Team members. Especially if those changes are happening without an in advance announcement and justification from senior leadership, and when the team members are mentally and technically unprepared.

When adding completely new teams, these already existing teams can continue with their Sprints without any interruption and extra integration effort. However, it will take longer to build up the necessary know-how and momentum to ramp-up the entirely newly formed Scrum teams.

Independent from the decision on how you add new Scrum Teams to your organization bear in mind the following principles:

Start with a small number of Scrum teams,
Increase the number of teams gradually,
Ensure the continuity of work and smooth delivery of software and business value during the times of change and growth,
If there’re significant problems that hinder productivity and continuity of work, first focus on fixing them rather than the expansion with new Scrum Teams.
Project Organization: Distributed Teams

The major complexity of multiple teams manifests itself when the new Scrum Teams have to be distributed over various locations. Communication barriers between people, coordination difficulties of work, and misunderstandings of joint project norms across teams are only a few of many when it comes to mentioning this complexity.

How To Scale The Scrum Framework (Distributed & Large Scrum Projects)? This Might Surprise You!
Multiple Teams in Multiple Locations

The consequences of not addressing these challenges are severe.

Companies have to count billions of dollars of wasted IT budget because of the lack of their skills in Organizational Leadership and Scaled Scrum Expertise.

There are four critical suggestions for you to cope with these challenges:

You ensure that new Scrum Team members are trained in the Scrum Framework as a Scaled Scrum Expert,
You ensure that new Scrum Team members are introduced to the project adequately, so they have a proper understanding of what they’re serving for. Not only technically but also from a professional business value point of view, so they can make decisions in their work to increase the value of their contribution,
You ensure that the project norms are established. Similar to a single Scrum Team, which has its norms of how to communicate, how to plan, how to get the work done, a multiple project team organization should have its higher-level norms too. So these teams can communicate, plan, operate, solve problems, and deliver client and business value together.
You ensure that the new team members do at least temporarily work together with the experienced project members. That could require remote site visits and on-the-job training. That’s totally fine and even desired. Thanks to this approach, the knowhow can be smoothly transferred, and the two-ways and personal dialog between people in different teams and locations can be established.
Virtual Teams

Another option of a distributed Scrum Team is having its members spread over multiple locations. Such a team is called a “Virtual Team”.

The main challenge here is to ensure flawless communication among the team members. Scrum Team members must still need to conduct all Scrum Rituals (Scrum Events) to coordinate their work, but now they have to do this while not all of them are present in the same room.

How To Scale The Scrum Framework (Distributed & Large Scrum Projects)? This Might Surprise You!
Virtual Teams

Scrum Team members co-located in the same location should still work together in the same room. And yet, they now have to rely more on the use of collaboration and communication tools. They can join the Scrum Events from the same meeting room to connect to the other half of the virtual team via video conferencing technologies.

Scrum Product Owner Team

As we have covered many times in this material so far, regular communication between the Scrum Product Owner and the Scrum Team is crucial for the successful delivery of a project.

We need to ensure that the Scrum Product Owner is always available to Scrum Teams located in different locations. Therefore, it is often necessary to have multiple Scrum Product Owners working together. Ideally, there is one dedicated Scrum Product Owner for each team.

The Scrum Product Owners should then build a dedicated “Scrum Product Owner Team” to work together effectively. One of the Scrum Product Owners should be assigned to the role of the “Chief Scrum Product Owner”.

He or she is responsible for ensuring that:

The correct product is built to satisfy the demands of its client,
All Scrum Product Owners collaborate efficiently, and they enable their teams to build the business and technical value for their clients.
Since the Scrum Product Owner Team is responsible for the complete requirement engineering, it is beneficial to have other competencies and stakeholders in this team. Those can include the representatives of the business case, relevant stakeholders, enterprise architects, and technology architects.

All Scrum Product Owners should work within a single large Scrum Product Backlog containing all stories relevant for the project. Each Scrum Team is responsible for delivering some of these user stories. And yet there will be still instances of specific user stories that require the attention and deliverables from multiple Scrum teams.

Component vs Feature Teams

When distributing work among different teams, we can make the teams accountable for specific software components or features. That is why we call them “Component Team” or “Feature Team.”

Component Teams

When using Component Teams, each team is only responsible for the implementation of dedicated components from the overall system. To finish a user story, it is usually necessary to split the user stories into smaller pieces to implement them within a single component. The dependencies between the components of these Component Teams make continuous integration an inevitable part of successful deliveries.

How To Scale The Scrum Framework (Distributed & Large Scrum Projects)? This Might Surprise You!
Scrum Product Owner Team

Thus, a feature cannot be usually delivered within a Sprint because its implementation depends on the deliverables from user stories of other teams.

That results in increasing batch sizes and lead times of ongoing, not yet integrated work. That doesn’t sound so good, because Scrum Teams should target delivering shippable software increment in smaller batch sizes and shorter lead times.

The advantage of component teams is that they make it easier to focus on and build expertise about architectural and design details of particular components. That could be massively beneficial for components that require discovery and innovation.

On the other hand, the members of component teams do only specialize in individual components of the whole system. They could lose their bird-eye view and business necessity of features.

Keep in mind that our clients do not compensate us to deliver components, but features with which they will execute their businesses. Without this relentless focus on features, overall optimization, and integration of software might take extra time. Since decisions of component teams tend to optimize single components, those decisions can construct invisible bottlenecks for the success and performance of the overall solution.

How To Scale The Scrum Framework (Distributed & Large Scrum Projects)? This Might Surprise You!
Component Teams

Feature Teams

Feature teams are fully responsible for the implementation of user stories as they’re specified within the Product Backlog. The teams do no longer need to be divided for various components. Each Feature Team is responsible for delivering a fully-functional feature and a business value associated with this feature.

How To Scale The Scrum Framework (Distributed & Large Scrum Projects)? This Might Surprise You!
Feature Teams

Members of feature teams possess cross functional skills. They act as autonomous as it is possible to deliver fast. The advantage of feature teams is that the team maintains the system-knowledge, and this makes it easier for them to integrate their features with the rest of the system.

However, for feature teams, it may become more challenging to build sufficient know-how about components. Furthermore, bringing up an autonomous feature team that can deliver fast and independently takes time as building an interdisciplinary functional team is not that easy. And yet, these are the high-performer teams which get the job done in most organizations, probably including yours.

How Do We Choose Component Teams vs Feature Teams?

In practice, most of the large organizations use both dedicated Component Teams and Feature teams too.

How To Scale The Scrum Framework (Distributed & Large Scrum Projects)? This Might Surprise You!
Component and Feature Teams

Team C, on the chart, is a Component Team. It provides planned and on-demand infrastructure services to other teams that function as Feature Teams. Team C does not directly implement end-to-end user stories per se. They deliver the requirements of the user stories committed by the Feature Teams.

That allows the minimization of the number of qualified people in Feature Teams with the know-how of those components.

The Scrum Master In The Distributed Project Environment

In a distributed project environment, the role of the Scrum Master is even more essential. In those project configurations:

There will be extra effort required to align the teams on the values of the Scrum Framework,
It will take longer to establish individual team and project norms (standards) which influences numerous teams,
Last but not least, there will be many impediments due to the increased number of dependencies between teams and their deliverables.
One important rule to bear in mind that the Scrum Master should physically locate where his or her team is. Otherwise, it will be almost impossible for the Scrum Master:

To remove the impediments for his team,
To Establish their norms, and
To help them to improve their use of the Scrum Framework.
The best practice is to have a Lead (Primary) Scrum Master to guide the overall use of the Scrum Framework across multiple teams.

In other unit Scrum teams, which form the larger Scrum organization, someone should be acting as a local Scrum Master too.

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #13

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #13

 
 
00:00 / 12:42
 
1X
 

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #13 has been proudly brought to you by International Scrum Institute, https://www.scrum-institute.org

What Is A Sprint Planning Meeting? This Might Surprise You!

During the Sprint Planning Meeting, the Scrum Team builds a viable Sprint Backlog, which determines the user stories and tasks the team is going to implement until the end of this Sprint (Product Increment).

A Sprint Planning Meeting constitutes two parts, namely the WHAT-Meeting, and the HOW-Meeting. As those names imply, the WHAT-Meeting focuses on the scope of a Sprint, whereas the HOW-Meeting focuses on how this scope will be implemented.

During Sprint Planning Meetings, the presence of the Scrum Product Owner is mandatory. So she can answer questions from the Scrum Team and bring clarifications for the requirements and their acceptance criteria.

Stakeholders such as end-users or line managers can join Sprint Planning Meetings as view-only audiences. They’re not allowed to influence the flow of the Sprint Planning Meeting.

The Sprint Goal

The Scrum Product Owner defines the Sprint Goal. It is a concise and realistic description of what the Sprint will attempt to achieve for business, end-users, and IT systems.

The Team Capacity

The total capacity of the Scrum Team might change from Sprint to Sprint. To make realistic commitments, the Scrum Team needs to know its capacity for the upcoming Sprint.

The team needs to take vacations, public holidays, time spent on Scrum Rituals, and a small contingency for unforeseen issues into account to propose a reasonable capacity.

The WHAT-Meeting

A Sprint Planning Meeting starts with a WHAT-Meeting. It requires some preparation:

The Scrum Product Owner defines the Sprint Goal.
Based on this goal, the Scrum Product Owner chooses the candidate user stories for the Sprint from the Scrum Product Backlog.
These user stories are edited and broken into smaller user stories when necessary so that they can be processed within one Sprint.
The user stories are estimated and prioritized.
The Scrum Team plans its capacity for the upcoming Sprint.
The duties of various Scrum roles during the course of the WHAT-Meeting part of Sprint Planning Meetings are the following:

The Product Owner introduces the Sprint goal and her preselection of requirements, which should go into the product increment.
The Scrum Team identifies the required tasks and their estimations. It’s the role of the Scrum Team to decide which and how many requirements preselected by the product owner they can confidently deliver in this Sprint.
The Scrum Master moderates the meeting. She ensures that the self-organization and autonomous decision-making capability of the Scrum Team remain intact.
The HOW-Meeting

The goal of HOW-Meeting is to fill the Sprint Backlog by identifying the concrete tasks needed to implement committed user stories for the Sprint. These tasks usually (but not limited to) include activities such as analysis, design, development, testing, software build packaging, and documentation.

The HOW-Meeting can be done in a separate session after the WHAT-Meeting, or it may follow the WHAT-Meeting without a pause.

After identifying the tasks to be completed, the Scrum Team estimates these tasks. The unit for this estimation can be person-hours. Based on these estimates, the team has now its baseline about how long each user story will take them to deliver.

What Is A Daily Scrum/Stand-Up Meeting? This Might Surprise You!

The Daily Scrum Meeting is a maximum of 15 minutes meeting. These meetings take place every working at the same time in the same place.

It’s best to conduct Daily Scrum Meetings with direct access to the Sprint Backlog and Sprint Burndown Chart. So the Scrum Team can direct the Daily Scrum Meeting based on the facts and progress which are visible to everyone in the team.

Daily Scrum Meeting aims to support the self-organization of the Scrum Team and identify impediments systematically.

All members of the Scrum Team, the Scrum Master and the Scrum Product Owner need to join Daily Scrums. Other stakeholders can also join these meetings, but only as a view-only audience.

Daily Scrum Meetings are structured in the following way. Every member of the Scrum Team answers three questions.

Daily Scrum Meeting – Question #1: What activities have I performed since the last Daily Scrum Meeting?
Daily Scrum Meeting – Question #2: What activities am I planning to perform until the next Daily Scrum Meeting? What is my action plan?
Daily Scrum Meeting – Question #3: Did I encounter or am I expecting any impediment which may slow down or block the progress of my work?
The Scrum Master has to moderate Daily Scrum Meetings.

She needs to ensure disciplined and fast-pacing progress so that all team members can answer these three questions in at most 15 minutes.

The goal of Daily Scrum Meetings does not include to give time-consuming decisions or solve problems.

On the other hand, no issues or concerns from any Scrum Team member should be ignored or undermined due to the time constraint of the Daily Scrum Meeting. Concerns associated with specific user stories must be clearly articulated, discussed, and resolved after the meeting with the Scrum Team members related to these user stories.

To align on decisions and solve problems, the Scrum team can organize separate on demand basis meetings. These separate meetings to focus on decisions or issues take usually place subsequently after Daily Scrum Meetings.

The Scrum Master documents the identified impediments and its dates in a separate log, flip chart or report which is accessible to the team. We find it very beneficial to quickly update the status of all known impediments at the very end of Daily Scrum Meetings.

What Is A Sprint Review Meeting? This Might Surprise You!

The Sprint Review Meeting happens at the end of the Sprint. Regardless of the duration of the Sprint, it usually takes one to two hours. Depending on the type of software and available infrastructure, the Sprint Review Meetings take place in a meeting room, in a lab or in the room of the Scrum team.

The goal of the Sprint Review Meeting is to review the shippable product increment built during the Sprint and bring transparency to the product development process.

The Scrum Team members do not need to prepare a Powerpoint or Keynote presentation to show in the Sprint Review Meetings. They should instead spend their energy on the successful completion and demonstration of the Sprint outcome, which we call the shippable product increment.

The Scrum team demonstrates its work results. The Product Owner controls whether the Scrum team delivered the requirements they had committed during the Sprint Planned Meeting accurately or not.

The Sprint Review Meeting enables the Product Owner to inspect the current status of the product and adapt the goals of the subsequent Sprint. Therefore, Sprint Review Meetings are another way of formal and practical application of “inspect and adapt”.

Participants of the Sprint Review Meeting are the Scrum Team, the Scrum Product Owner, the Scrum Master. Optionally all other stakeholders such as end-users, clients, business representatives can join Sprint Review Meetings.

In Sprint Review Meetings, everyone is allowed to deliver their feedback about the demonstrated product increment.

In this way, the Scrum team has the opportunity to get unfiltered and direct input from stakeholders for whom they’re building the software.

What Is A Sprint Retrospective Meeting? This Might Surprise You!

The goal of the Sprint Retrospective Meetings is to improve the teamwork of Scrum Team members and the application of the Scrum process.

The Sprint Retrospective Meeting happens directly after the Sprint Review Meeting, and it closes the Sprint.

Therefore, Sprint Retrospective Meetings lead to an increase in productivity, the performance of Scrum Team members, and the quality of engineered software.

The Sprint Retrospective is an integral part of the “inspect and adapt” process. Without this meeting, the Scrum Team will never be able to improve its overall throughput, and they cannot focus on the improvement of team performance.

Remember this: What you focus on is what becomes better!

A Sprint Retrospective Meeting is virtually a mini postmortem to define improvement potentials and remove process-related obstacles. Some examples of such improvement potentials that we frequently see in our project are:

Adoption of agile software development practices such as extreme programming (XP) or test-driven development (TDD),
Identification of new team norms and principles, or
Increased availability of the Scrum Product Owner.
Without exception, the Scrum team conducts Sprint Retrospective Meetings at the end of every Sprint.

Only in this way, these meetings enable the Scrum Team to systematically adapt and improve their use of the Scrum process to the specifics of their project.

What Is A Scrum Grooming (Backlog Refinement) Meeting? This Might Surprise You!

Scrum Backlog Refinement (Grooming) Meetings aim to keep the Product Backlog up to date. So the Product Backlog reflects the best know-how and understanding of the Scrum team about the ongoing Scrum project.

Scrum Backlog Refinement meetings can happen on-demand or scheduled basis up to two times a week, 30 minutes each session. The Scrum Team, the Scrum Product Owner, and the Scrum Master participate in these meetings.

During Scrum Backlog Refinement (Grooming) meetings, the participants fine-tune the Product Backlog with the following actions:

Add new user stories based on newly discovered requirements.
Remove user stories which are no longer required for the product.
Fine-tune estimates of user stories.
Update priorities of user stories.
Split giant user stories into digestible smaller user stories, and prioritize them accordingly.
Here are our other suggestions to improve the outcomes of Backlog Refinement Meetings:

Ensure Cross Team Participation, which means you identify the dependencies as early as it is possible,
Size User Stories Correctly, which means all user stories can result in a shippable product increment within one single Sprint,
Prioritize User Stories, which means you deliver immediate value to end-users, enable quick wins, and make them happy,
Estimate Like a Pro, which means you obtain actionable inputs for reliable release planning,
Identify Dependencies, which means you pull required teams and resources on board to make your project a success,
Uncover Risks, which means you avoid tedious surprises during the later stages of your project.

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #12

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #12

 
 
00:00 / 4:31
 
1X
 

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #12 has been proudly brought to you by International Scrum Institute, https://www.scrum-institute.org

What Is A Scrum Burndown? This Might Surprise You!

The “Scrum Burndown Chart” is a visual measurement tool that shows the completed work per Sprint against the projected rate of completion for the current project release.

Its purpose is to enable the Scrum Product Owner, the Scrum Team, and other stakeholders to control the progress of the project. So the Scrum Team achieves to deliver the requested software solution within the desired timeline.

What Is A Scrum Burndown? This Might Surprise You!
Simple Scrum Burndown Chart

The speed/rate of progress of a Scrum Team is called “Velocity”. It expresses the total number of story points completed that the Scrum Team delivers per Sprint (Iteration).

An essential rule to assess and calculate the Velocity is that; Only entirely completed user stories that precisely fulfill their Definition of Done (DoD) are counted. The velocity calculation shouldn’t take partially completed user stories into account. (For instance, coding of a user story is done, but its tests are still missing)

Only a few Sprints after a new Scrum Team is formed, the Velocity of the team can be reliably calculated. That helps the Scrum Product Owner to predict the throughput of the Scrum Team better, and he or she can foresee what user stories the Scrum Team can deliver in a given Sprint. That would enable the Scrum Product Owner to plan software releases more accurately, with less surprises towards business clients and end-users.

As a simple example: Let’s assume the Velocity of your Scrum Team is 50 story points per Sprint. And the total amount of remaining work has been estimated as 300 story points. Then you can predict that you need 6 Sprints to deliver all of the remaining user stories from the Product Backlog.

However, in reality, the user stories in the Scrum Product Backlog will change over the course of the project. New stories are added, and other stories are modified or even deleted.

In the Simple Burndown Chart, the Velocity of the Scrum Team and the change of the scope cannot be visualized accurately. To increase this lost accuracy and visibility, Scrum Teams use another type of diagram, which we call “Extended Burndown Chart”.

Extended Burndown Chart uses a bar chart instead of a line diagram. The size of each bar represents the total number of remaining user stories at the beginning of each sprint. The Velocity of the Scrum Team is subtracted from the top bar, while changes of the Product Backlog are presented at the bottom of the bar.

What Is A Scrum Burndown? This Might Surprise You!
Extended Burndown Chart Separating Velocity and Scope Changes

To get even more accurate results with the Burndown Chart, we can also take the rate of changes in total work into account. We call this more precise model “Extended Burndown Chart With Prediction”. However, we have to be careful when using this model. The magnitude of changes in the Product Backlog will be relatively higher at the beginning. And yet, the rate of changes will usually drop, and they approach zero towards the end of the project.

What Is A Scrum Burndown Report? This Might Surprise You!

The Sprint Burndown Chart (Sprint Burndown Report) visualizes the progress within the Sprint towards reaching the Sprint goal.

It enables transparency and actionable progress data about the actual performance (burndown rate) of the Scrum Team. That allows the Scrum Product Owner and the Scrum Team to easily monitor how the Sprint is going. Thanks to this overview delivered by the Sprint Burndown Chart, the team can predict if the Sprint goal can be accomplished until the end of the Sprint on time.

Otherwise, the Scrum Master and the Scrum Team should consider and implement other measures to speed-up the execution of the remaining tasks and user stories in the Sprint Backlog.

In the Sprint Burndown Chart, the initial Sprint Backlog defines the start-point for the remaining efforts. Every day the remaining effort which needs to be completed until the end of the Sprint is summed up, and it’s logged on this graph.

What Is A Scrum Burndown Report? This Might Surprise You!
Sprint Burndown Report/Chart

It’s worthwhile to remember that; While a new Scrum team is forming, the performance is often not as good as how the ideal burndown rate envisioned it. That usually happens due to wrong estimates or unforeseen impediments that have to be removed to bring the Scrum Team on full speed.

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #11

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #11

 
 
00:00 / 16:49
 
1X
 

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #11 has been proudly brought to you by International Scrum Institute, https://www.scrum-institute.org

What Is The Scrum Product Backlog? This Might Surprise You!

Product Backlog (Scrum Backlog) or Scrum Product Backlog is the central element to manage all of the known requirements of a Scrum Project.

It consists of all customer requirements and work results that are needed to execute and finish a successful project. As requirements, you count functional and non-functional requirements and other features related to user experience and user interface design.

The Product Backlog contains feature requests and their high-level user stories. These can also include pre-requisite or complementary project requirements such as building test and development environments. Moreover, other user stories required to resolve known bugs or reduce technical debt or improve certain software features have also their places in the Product Backlog as well.

Every Scrum Project has its Product Backlog. The Scrum Product Owner is responsible for the creation, maintenance, and fine-tuning of a Product Backlog. The Product Backlog doesn’t and shouldn’t answer the question of how these requirements will be developed and delivered.

That’s the duty of the Scrum Team. The Scrum Team decides and documents the required tasks to address these requirements in Sprint Backlogs. Note that Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog are physically separate entities although entries in the Product Backlog drive the contents of the Sprint Backlog.

The owner of the Scrum Product Backlog is the Scrum Product Owner. The Scrum Master, the Scrum Team, and other Stakeholders contribute it to build a broader list of user stories to bring the product to success.

Working with a Scrum Product Backlog does not mean that the Scrum Team is not allowed to create and use other artifacts to manage work. Examples for additional artifacts could be a summary of the various user roles, workflow descriptions, user interface guidelines, storyboards, or user interface prototypes. However, note that these artifacts do not replace the Scrum Product Backlog but complement and detail its contents.

he Product Backlog is a living document. Similar to how the software incrementally improves, the Product Backlog grows in time as well. The Scrum framework doesn’t require a separate change management process per se. The Scrum Product Owner creates the first versions of the Product Backlog based on his best initial understanding of the product.

While the Scrum Product Owner closely observes how the product emerges from sprint to sprint and while the knowledge about client requirements augments, he or she adds, removes and fine-tines requirements in the Product Backlog.

The Scrum Product Owner prioritizes requirements in the Product Backlog. The more priority an element in the Product Backlog has, the more details it should contain. So the Scrum Team can easily make sense of these high priority requirements and create the required tasks to build them.

Furthermore, by using story points, the Scrum Team regularly estimates the requirements in the Product Backlog. These estimations should be fine-tuned and improved for high-priority user stories to make them ready for Sprint Planning Meetings.

Each Scrum Product Backlog has specific attributes that differentiate it from a simple to-do list:

A user story in the Scrum Product Backlog always add a business or technical value to its client, business owner and end-users,
All user stories in the Scrum Product Backlog are prioritized and ordered from highest to lowest priority,
The level of details stored in a user story depends on its position within the Scrum Product Backlog,
User stories are estimated,
Scrum Product Backlog is a living document,
There are no action items or low-level tasks in the Scrum Product Backlog.
User Stories Add Value To Client, Business, and Systems

Each user story in the Scrum Product Backlog must offer some client value. User stories without any client value are a pure waste of resources, and they should be eliminated. The Scrum Product Backlog can include user stories for:

The specification of functional and nonfunctional requirements,
The summary of high-level break-down of the work necessary to launch the software product,
Setting up non-production development and demonstration environments,
Remediating defects.
What Is The Scrum Product Backlog? This Might Surprise You!
Example Scrum Product Backlog

Some tasks may not add direct value to the functionality of software system and business clients. Nevertheless, they should add value by increasing quality, reducing technical debt, and increasing maintainability of the product during the long run.

Product Backlog Is A Living Document

The Scrum Product Backlog is a living document. It changes and evolves throughout the entire course of a project. If needed, new user stories are added, existing user stories may be altered, defined in more detail, or even deleted. Requirements of Scrum projects are no longer frozen early on like we used to have them with the Waterfall Methodology.

Instead, the final set of requirements within the Scrum Product Backlog are developed iteratively, together with the emerging software increments.

That is different from traditional requirements engineering. Still, this new way of handling client requirements allows the Scrum Team to maximize client value and minimize waste of resources.
Different Level Of Details

The requirements in the Scrum Product Backlog can have varying depths with their granularities. Only those requirements that will be implemented during the next few Sprints should be defined with greater detail. All other user stories should remain coarse-grained; they should be only processed “just in time” before the Scrum Team needs to know more about them.

It does not make sense to invest time and resources into the specification of these requirements, as some of these requirements may change or disappear until they are needed for implementation. “Just in time” handling of requirements is one of the most excellent benefits the Scrum Framework offers to deal with “unknown unknowns” in your projects.

No Low-Level tasks In The Product Backlog

The Scrum Product Backlog should not contain detailed task break-down of user stories. The Scrum Product Owner defines the requirements together with the business clients and stakeholders before he or she brings them to the Backlog Refinement or Sprint Planning Meetings. Detailed task break-down and distribution of these tasks among the Scrum Team Members are the responsibility of the Scrum Team.

The Scrum Product Backlog Is Ordered Based On Priority

All user stories are prioritized, and the Scrum Product Backlog is ordered based on the priority of user stories (from highest to lowest). The Scrum Product Owner performs the prioritization with the support of the Scrum Team. During this prioritization exercise, the added value created for the business of the client, costs, risks, and dependencies are the most common factors which are into account by the team. Thanks to this prioritization, the Scrum Product Owner can decide what the Scrum Team should subsequently build and deliver.

All User Stories Are Estimated

All user stories within the Scrum Product Backlog have to be estimated according to the agreed norm of story point units such as Fibonacci number or S/M/L/XL/XXL, etc. More about this comes later in this material. These estimations then impact the capacity planning of Sprints, contents of Sprint Backlog, and release plans.

Working With The Backlog

The Scrum Product Backlog needs regular care and attention. It needs to be carefully managed because it’s the source of truth to understand what your software product is all about.

At the beginning of a project, it’s filled with a lot of high-level stories that may or may not be highly relevant to contribute to the success of the project. While the project progresses from one Sprint to another, the Scrum Product Owner and the team learn more about the project.

Subsequently, the contents of the Scrum Product Backlog will become perfectly reasonable to reflect your product better.

After this initial setup, the Scrum Product Backlog has to be continuously maintained. The maintenance of the Scrum Product Backlog stands for:

As new requirements are discovered, they are described and added. Existing requirements can be changed or removed as appropriate,
Ordering (Prioritizing) the Scrum Product Backlog. The most important (highest priority) user stories are moved to the top,
Preparing the high-priority user stories for the upcoming Sprint Planning Meetings (usually during Backlog Refinement Meetings),
(Re-)Estimating the user stories in the Scrum Product Backlog (usually during Backlog Refinement Meetings).
The Scrum Product Owner is responsible for making sure that the Scrum Product Backlog is always in good shape. And yet maintaining the Scrum Product Backlog is a collaborative process. A reasonable capacity of the Scrum Team members should be reserved for managing the Scrum Product Backlog for the time they need to spend during Scrum Rituals (Events).

Furthermore, note that, this collaborative maintenance of the Scrum Product Backlog helps to clarify the requirements and creates buy-in of the emerging software product from the Scrum Team members.

What Is The Sprint Backlog? This Might Surprise You!

The Sprint Backlog stores and maintains user stories required to deliver the shippable software increment of a Sprint.

These user stories are the ones the Scrum Team committed during the Sprint Planning Meeting. All user stories in the Sprint Backlog are estimated to enable the monitoring and tracking of the work.

The Sprint Backlog is a living artifact, and during the course of Sprint, the Scrum team members continuously update it.

When a Scrum Team member works on a task, his or her name is associated with it. The status of the task is set to “Started Tasks” or “Work In Progress”. When the task is completed according to its Definition of Done, its status is set to “Done” or “Completed”.

New tasks (not new user stories) can be added to the Sprint Backlog during the Sprint. At the end of every day, the remaining effort to deliver the full Sprint Backlog is calculated. This helps the Scrum Team and the Scrum Product Owner to monitor the remaining amount of work to bring the Sprint goals to success.

The Sprint Backlog can be kept electronically by using a Scrum Project Management Software or spreadsheet software such as Excel or Google Sheet. Alternatively, for smaller and new teams, cards (or post-its) glued on a real physical board can be used too.

The latter has some advantages such as transparency of work and easy access for everyone, including the stakeholders. Its downside is that it’s not sustainable if the Scrum Team is distributed over multiple locations.

The figure below shows a sample of how such a Sprint Backlog Board can be built. The structure should be adapted to reflect the needs of the project and the Scrum Team.

What Is The Sprint Backlog? This Might Surprise You!
A Sample Sprint Backlog Board

It’s evident that for a Scrum Team to work productively, they need to understand the difference between a Product Backlog and a Sprint Backlog, and how these two elements interact to execute forward the project.

Remember that there is a complete list of user stories from the Product Backlog. And now, a small subset of this list is being moved to Sprint Backlog to accomplish the goals of the Sprint.

During the Sprint Planning Meeting, all members of the Scrum Team should discuss what tasks must be done and how these tasks will be completed.

It’s at this point that each item on the Sprint Backlog is broken down into tasks or steps that will be taken to complete the committed user stories. All of this must be clearly communicated and agreed upon, so the Scrum Team members have an unmistakable consensus about what is coming in the Sprint and what it takes to accomplish its goals.

What Is A Sprint? This Might Surprise You!

In the scrum framework, all activities to implement the requirements happen during Sprints.

Sprints are cycles of work activities to develop shippable software product or service increments. Sprints are also sometimes called iterations.

You think about sprints as if they’re micro projects. As the term “Sprint” implies, a sprint doesn’t take long, and it’s maximum for four weeks.

Sprints are always short, usually between 2 to 4 weeks. But depending on the reliably foreseen amount of work or for Exploration Sprints, a one week long Sprint is also typical. With the approval of the Scrum Product Owner, a Scrum Team may need an Exploration Sprint to investigate new technology, build a mock-up or a proof of concept.

Different from a running race, at the end of a Sprint, the Scrum Team shouldn’t be out of breath and power. Instead, the Scrum Team should be fresh, and they should energetically start the next Sprint.

The Scrum Software Development and Delivery Framework has nothing to do to create pressure and stress for its team members. It’s a well known fact that people perform best when they can work focused, relieved, and undistracted. If it’s applied correctly this is what Sprints help us accomplish.

Every Sprint starts with a Sprint Planning Meeting. During the Sprint Planning Meeting, the Scrum Team decides what and how many requirements they will implement in this given Sprint. Subsequently, the Scrum Team starts the execution of activities to deliver requirements.

Daily Scrum (Daily Scrum Meeting) happens every day at the same time in the same place. The goal of this meeting is to align all members of the Scrum Team regularly. Scrum Team Members can also ask help from the Scrum Master to remove any impediments which may potentially slow down or block the progress of a Sprint.

The Scrum Team finalizes a Sprint with Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective meetings. The Sprint Review Meeting enables the Scrum Product Owner to review and control the work results the Scrum Team has created during the Sprint.

During the Sprint Retrospective Meeting, the Scrum Team reflects the way they work together, how they use the Scrum Framework, and how they can improve.

So the Scrum Team jointly takes these improvement potentials and feedback into account during the next Sprint Planning Meeting.Sprints enable such feedback loops during short periods with small batch sizes of work.

That’s one of the significant reasons why and how the Scrum framework helps teams and organizations to improve themselves continuously.

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #10

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #10

 
 
00:00 / 8:39
 
1X
 

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #10 has been proudly brought to you by International Scrum Institute, https://www.scrum-institute.org

What Is User Story In The Scrum Framework? This Might Surprise You!

The entries in the Scrum Product Backlog are often written in the form of User Stories. A User Story tells a short story about the requirements of someone while he or she is using the software product we are building.

It has a name, a brief narrative, and acceptance criteria for the story to be counted as completed. The advantage of user stories is that they precisely focus on what the user needs and wants without going into the details on how to achieve them. How to achieve them will be the job of the Scrum team as a later stage,

There are different recommendations on how to define User stories. A well known and reliable template is:

As an [actor], I [want|must] [action] so that [achievement]

Or in a shorter version:
As an [actor], I [want|must] [achievement]

The Actor is the owner of the user story. That is often a user, but it is advisable to be more specific. By using particular actors such as an administrator, logged in customer, or unauthenticated visitor or so on, user stories become distinctive. So they set requirements into a proper context everyone can understand.

The Action is what the Actor wants to do. If it is a mandatory requirement, it can be prefixed as must. Otherwise, it’s prefixed as want.

The Achievement is what the Actor wants to achieve by performing the Action. That’s the Actor’s envisioned business result or a functional technical component that emerges once the Action is completed.

How To Estimate Effort For Stories In The Scrum Framework? This Might Surprise You!

All user stories within the Scrum Product Backlog have to be estimated to allow the Scrum Product Owner to prioritize them and plan releases. That means the Scrum Product Owner needs a reliable assessment of how much the delivery of each user story will take.

Nevertheless, it is recommended that the Scrum Product Owner does not interfere with the estimations that the Scrum Team performs. So the Scrum Team delivers its estimates without feeling any pressure from the Scrum Product Owner.

The Scrum Framework itself does not prescribe a way for the Scrum Teams to estimate their work. The teams who rely on the Scrum Framework do not deliver their estimates of user stories based on time or person-day units. Instead, they provide their estimates by using more abstract metrics to compare and qualify the effort required to deliver the user stories.

Common estimation methods include:

Numeric sizing (1 through 10),
T-shirt sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL), or
the Fibonacci sequence (0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc)
How To Estimate Effort For Stories In The Scrum Framework? This Might Surprise You!
An Example User story

The Scrum Team members must share a common understanding and consensus of the unit of estimations they use so that every member of the team feels and acts comfortable with it.

Planning Poker® / Scrum Poker

One commonly used method for the estimation process is to play Planning Poker® (also called Scrum Poker).

When using Planning Poker®, the social proof influence among the Scrum Team members are minimal. Therefore, the Scrum Team produces more accurate estimation results.

What you need to play Planning Poker® game is straightforward:

The list of features to be estimated
Decks of numbered cards.
A typical deck has cards showing the Fibonacci sequence, including a zero: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89. Other similar progressions are also possible. The reason for using the Fibonacci sequence is to reflect the uncertainty in estimating larger items. It would be a waste of time to discuss if a user story should have a size of 19, 20 or 21. And yet, it’s relatively easier to decide if the user story fits better to the size 13 or 21.

A high estimate could mean that the Scrum Team members have not very well understood the user story yet. So they can attempt to secure extra capacity for contingency before their commitment to this user story. Alternatively, that could also mean that the user story should be broken down into multiple smaller user stories. Scrum teams can usually estimate smaller and clearer user stories with higher confidence.

Finally, the Scrum Team plays Planning Poker® by adhering the following steps:

The Scrum Product Owner presents the story to be estimated. The Scrum Team asks questions, and the Scrum Product Owner articulates the user story in more detail. If the Scrum Team has to assess many user stories, estimates can be time-boxed in a way that the Scrum Team does not spend more than a few minutes for each user story. If the team cannot still estimate a user story in a given time-box, then this could be a signal to which the Scrum Product Owner needs to pay attention. This signal indicates that either the end-user requirement or the user story or both of them are not clear enough, so they need to be rewritten.
Each member of the Scrum Team privately chooses the card representing the estimation.
After everyone has selected a card, all selections are revealed.
People with high and low estimates are asked to explain their assessment because they may have thought something that the majority of the Scrum Team members have been unable to see.
Another estimation is done for this particular user story until the team reaches a consensus for an estimate.
The Scrum Team repeats the game until they estimate all user stories.
Planning Poker® is a registered trademark of Mountain Goat Software, LLC.

What Is The Definition Of Done In The Scrum Framework? This Might Surprise You!

In the Scrum framework, the factors which define when a feature is complete and when it meets the required quality standards are set by Definition of Done (DoD).

As it was clarified before in this material, DoDs specify the expected outcome in terms of functional and non-functional requirements, design, coding, unit testing, end-user validations, documentation, and so on. DoDs are defined in the levels of both user stories and tasks.

DoDs of user stories focus on functional and non-functional client requirements, whereas DoDs of tasks focus on the desired working activities from the Scrum Team members.

The Scrum Team is not allowed to close the user stories, and obviously, the tasks that do not fulfill their DoDs. Definition of Done (DoD) is used to decide whether a User Story from the Sprint Backlog is complete or not. DoD is a comprehensive checklist of required activities to ensure that only truly completed features are delivered, not only in terms of functionality but in terms of quality as well. The norms which a Scrum Team uses to define DoDs may vary from one team to another, but it must be consistent within a given Scrum Team.

There are usually different DoDs at various levels:

DoD for a Project/Product (In the project goals)
DoD for a Release (In the release goals)
DoD for a Sprint (In the sprint goals)
DoD for a User Story (In the User Story)
Dod for Tasks (In the task)
One more essential thing to keep in mind here is that a DoD is neither static nor indisputable. During the course of a project, a release, or a sprint, a DoD can be challenged by anyone from the Scrum team or other business and IT stakeholders. As long as the proposed changes of a DoD makes sense and they’re brought up to bring the project to success, the Scrum Team and the Scrum Product Owner should be open minded to listen to those proposals and implement them when and where necessary.

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #9

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #9

 
 
00:00 / 2:11
 
1X
 

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #9 has been proudly brought to you by International Scrum Institute, https://www.scrum-institute.org

How Does The Scrum Framework Work Without A Project Manager? This Might Surprise You!

In a traditional project, typically, a Product Manager defines the requirements. Then the Product Manager delegates the realization to a Project Manager. Afterward, the Project Manager coordinates all activities needed to deliver the requirements of the project.

The Scrum Framework does not define a “Project Manager” role in the classical sense.

And yet, the tasks of this role are still required to deliver a project successfully. Within the Scrum Framework, the responsibilities of a Project Manager are distributed over the functions of the Scrum Product Owner and the Scrum Master.

The definition of the role and responsibilities of the Scrum Product Owner takes possible conflicts that may arise between the Product Owner and the Project Manager into account. Decisions about functionality, release planning, and budgeting can be made much more comfortable, quicker and better if one person is responsible for the execution, controlling, and documentation of those activities. Otherwise, there would always be a constant tension between the Scrum Product Owner (not responsible for the project) and the Project Manager (not responsible for the execution of work).

The goal of any reliable process should be to avoid this potential conflict that impacts the functional and tactical administration of the work that the Scrum Team performs. And that’s precisely what the Scrum Framework aims to accomplish. Therefore, the typical responsibilities of Project Managers and Product Managers are merged into the Scrum Product Owner role.

Nevertheless, the Scrum Master takes over some responsibilities of a traditional Project Manager. Tracking the tasks in Sprints and facilitating the resolution of impediments are among his duties. Since he or she is part of the Scrum Team, it is much easier and much more efficient to handle such activities directly in the team.

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #8

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #8

 
 
00:00 / 20:42
 
1X
 

Scrum Institute, Scrum Framework Episode #8 has been proudly brought to you by International Scrum Institute, https://www.scrum-institute.org

What Is The Role Of The Scrum Team? This Might Surprise You!

The Scrum Framework recognizes three roles:

The Product Owner,
The Scrum Team Member,
The Scrum Master.
In addition to other programs it’s providing to its worldwide students, International Scrum Institute™ provides three primary training and certification programs for these three roles.

These programs are namely Scrum Product Owner Accredited Certification™ (SPOAC™), Scrum Team Member Accredited Certification™ (STMAC™), and Scrum Master Accredited Certification™ (SMAC™) .

A proper scrum organization must adequately possess people from all these three skill-sets. That’s particularly essential to succeed with the scrum software development framework.

None of these roles is indispensable and irreplaceable. They cannot be combined with the other scrum roles and functions. Each Scrum Product Owner typically works together with one scrum team. Each Scrum Team has its own Scrum Master, and each Scrum Master cares and works with one single Scrum Team.

Please don’t underestimate the importance of understanding the purpose and function of these roles and employing them with adequate talents.

Many times we observed that the root cause of difficulties of a scrum team is either because these roles are not understood or they don’t employ the right people.

Each of these roles has a defined set of responsibilities. Only if the owners of these roles fulfil these responsibilities, closely interact, collaborate, and work together, they can finish a Scrum project successfully.

What Is The Role Of The Scrum Team? This Might Surprise You!
Scrum Roles & Stakeholders

The Scrum Team

Within the Scrum Framework, dedicated Scrum Teams do all work delivered to the business clients. A Scrum Team is a collection of individuals working together to provide the requested and committed product increments.

To work effectively, it is essential for a Scrum Team that everyone within the team:

Embraces values of the Scrum Framework such as Courage, Focus, Commitment, Respect, and Openness,
Adheres the same norms and rules,
Follows the common goal, which wires them to both IT and business outcomes.
When setting up a new Scrum Team, you always need to keep in mind that no new team will deliver with the highest possible performance right from the beginning. After setting up the team, it has to go through certain phases as described by the Tuckman-Model: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing.

What Is The Role Of The Scrum Team? This Might Surprise You!
Tuckman’s Stages of Team Development

How long it takes until the Scrum Team reaches the Performing Phase varies from team to team. Hiring good basketball players for the same club will not make a good basketball team as soon as they start to play together. They first need to learn and adapt their playing styles, their strengths and weaknesses to assist each other, and to play in harmony. Scrum teams are not that different. Therefore, it’s vital to keep in mind that it usually takes about 3 to 5 Sprints until the team becomes mature enough to deliver its results effectively and predictably.

Characteristics of a Scrum Team

Scrum Teams have the following characteristics:

Team members share the same norms and rules,
The Scrum team as a whole is accountable for the delivery,
The Scrum Team is empowered,
The Scrum Team is working as autonomous as it is possible,
The Scrum Team is self-organizing,
The skills within the Scrum team are balanced,
A core Scrum Team is small and has no sub-teams,
The Scrum Team members are dedicated to their teams with 100% capacity,
Scrum Team members are collocated, and they ideally share the same room.
Rules & Norms

The environment, business, IT, and geographical ecosystem of Scrum Teams invisibly define some of the norms the teams follow. And yet, to become a truly successful Scrum Team, some rules and norms should be explicitly developed and exercised during the Norming phase.

These common standards are essential, and they can’t be overemphasized to deliver smooth gameplay, IT, and business results. Otherwise, the Scrum Team members would have to continually switch back and forth between different value systems and rule sets, and they waste their valuable time. Just a few examples of such norms and rules are:

The goal, scope, duration, location, participants and outcomes of Scrum Rituals (Events),
Required level of details to write clear, concise and unmistakable Definition Of Dones (DoDs),
Guidelines to prioritize and estimate user stories and tasks,
Guidelines, procedures and the level of details to create living documents,
Tools to use and tools not to use (remember, sometimes less is more),
Coding standards,
Tools and guidelines to build/perform manual/automated tests and ensure quality,
The process to resolve bugs,
The process to handle change requests,
The process to prepare to product increment demonstrations during Sprint Review Meetings,
The process to handle the outcomes of each Scrum Ritual (Event),
Frequency, depth, and duration of Backlog Refinement Meetings.
Accountability

The Scrum Team as a whole is responsible for delivering the committed user stories in time and with the highest possible quality.

A good result or a failure is never attributed to a single team member but always the result of the Scrum Team.

Empowerment & Self-organization

The Scrum Team has to be empowered to define

What the team commits to deliver at the end of the Sprint,
How the committed user stories will be broken down into tasks,
Who will perform a specific task and in which order the tasks are implemented.
Only if the Scrum Team is empowered to decide these and similar internal decisions, the team members will work with higher performance and motivation for the interest of their client stakeholders.

Balanced set of skills

Each Individual within the Scrum Team will most certainly have specialized skills, focus, and personal preference of interests. However, to achieve the best possible performance, your Scrum Team needs to have a balanced set of skills. Only then the Scrum Team will be able to deal with the ever-changing IT and business challenges, and they can act as autonomous as it is possible.

That means a Scrum Team should be multidisciplinary (designers, developers, testers, architects, etc.) right from the beginning. On the other hand, this also means that each team member should learn a little bit from each other’s specialization. For instance, to be able to finish a committed user story until the end of the Sprint, a developer should willingly write and execute tests, and consult the tester whenever necessary.

The roles of the Scrum Team members are not compartmentalized like the architect, the developer, the tester, and so on. They all share the same title, “Scrum Team Member” regardless of their core personal competencies.

Size of the Scrum Team

Scrum Teams are small. The ideal size is 7 +/- 2 people.

Note that if the Scrum Team contains more than nine members, your team will most probably suffer due to excessive overhead of alignment and communication. And yet, there is no one size fits all answer. Your Scrum Teams may still productively function even if they have less than five or more than nine members.

The only way to find this out is to test, learn, and adapt. If you find out that a team of 13 people cannot perform well enough, then these Scrum Teams need to be split into two teams. These Scrum Teams should closely align, and they correlate their goals and user stories. Besides that, they work independently.

Collocation

To minimize unnecessary communication overhead, each Scrum Team should be collocated. If the work has to spread over multiple geographical locations, independent Scrum Teams need to be created. These teams need to align and correlate their goals and user stories.

Responsibilities of the Scrum Team

The Scrum Team has specific responsibilities they need to fulfill:

They have to breakdown the user stories, create tasks, define priorities and estimates, and they self-organize the implementation. In other words, they have to create, process, and deliver the Sprint Backlog.
They have to perform Daily Scrum Meetings.
They have to ensure that at the end of the Sprint, potentially shippable product increment is delivered and demonstrated.
They have to update the status and the remaining work efforts for their tasks to allow the creation of a Sprint Burndown Diagram.

What Is The Role Of The Scrum Master? This Might Surprise You!

The Scrum Master serves all participants of a Scrum Project and the external stakeholders to comprehend and apply the Scrum Framework correctly.

He or she supports the Scrum Team to execute the Scrum Framework successfully and contributes them to improve their productivity and performance continuously.

The role of the Scrum Master is to establish the Scrum Process in its organization, the new way of thinking and acting.

Furthermore, the Scrum Master acts as a change agent. He or she coaches the team to develop new team norms and standards. The Scrum Master has its desk somewhere very close to the rest of the scrum team.

Essential tasks of a Scrum Master owner are:

To establish the Scrum Framework in his or her business and IT ecosystem,
To act as a change agent and support the adaptation of existing processes to maximize productivity of the Scrum Team.
To coach the Scrum Team to understand and live the values of the Scrum Framework,
To ensure efficient and close collaboration between the Scrum Product Owner and the Scrum Team,
To remove impediments which hinder the continuity of work,
To lead progress of work by serving,
To moderate the Scrum Rituals (Scrum Events).
To guard the Scrum Team from external interference and interruptions while the team does work it has originally committed for a Sprint.
Easily Learn Scrum and Officially Prove Your Know how

To effectively do this work, a Scrum Master needs to possess savvy moderation and coaching skills. He or she needs to be a continuous learner to inspire others to learn, change, and grow.

To learn more about Scrum Master’s duties as a facilitator, I recommend you to have a look at this article: If I had 5 Minutes to explain Scrum Master As a Facilitator.

To learn more about Scrum Master’s duties as a facilitator, I recommend you to have a look at this article: If I had 5 Minutes to explain Scrum Master As a Facilitator.

The Scrum Master is part of the Scrum Team and acts as a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. In the beginning, this will be a full-time job so that the Scrum Master will not be able to contribute to the Sprint results directly. However, after a few Sprints, while the Scrum Team approach to the Performing phase of the Tuckman model, the initial workload as moderator and coach will reduce. So, the Scrum Master could actively contribute to the Sprint goals.

Since there must be trust between the Scrum Master and the Scrum Team members, it can always be a good idea that the Scrum Team chooses its Scrum Master. However, in reality, the management usually imposes who the Scrum Master will be. To get the required trust, the Scrum Master should have no line management responsibility above the Scrum Team members. Otherwise, open communication in the Scrum Team and joint ownership of work and decision-making ability of the Scrum Team can suffer.

Guarding The Scrum Team, Removing Impediments

An essential job of the Scrum Master is to safeguard the Scrum Team from a false sense of urgency. Line management and the Scrum Product Owner often attempt to add unplanned user stories to the Sprint Backlog while the team focuses on the work of a planned Sprint.

However, one of the critical aspects of the Scrum Framework is that all user stories are known and committed only during the Sprint Planning Meetings. The Scrum Team cannot be forced to take over new user stories. The job of the Scrum Master is to ensure that until the next Sprint Planning Meeting, these new user stories are stored in the Scrum Product Backlog.

Alternatively, if the ongoing Sprint does not make any business and/or technical sense to continue, it can be canceled, and a new Sprint can be planned.

Scrum Team members should only concentrate on delivering client value by building potentially shippable product increment. The Scrum Master helps by removing impediments that block or slow down the progress of work.

Examples of removing impediments could be:

To arrange support, resources,
To find missing know how, and
To do hands-on work to help the Scrum Team Members.
Scrum Master as a Change Agent

One of the cornerstones of the Scrum Framework is the continuous improvement through Inspect & Adapt.

The Scrum Master hosts and moderates the Scrum Retrospective Meeting, and his or her job is then to facilitate, control and measure the change of the identified shortcomings.

Facilitation of Scrum Rituals (Event)

The Scrum Framework defines several meetings that have to be organized and facilitated by the Scrum Master:

Scrum Grooming (Backlog Refinement) Meetings,
Sprint Planning Meetings
Daily Scrum Meetings,
Sprint Review Meetings, and
Sprint Retrospective Meetings

What Is The Role Of The Scrum Product Owner? This Might Surprise You!

The Scrum Product Owner is a central role within the Scrum Framework. That role unifies product and project management tasks, and it’s also firmly integrated with software development and delivery.

The product owner’s role is far broader than traditional project management, program manager, or product management roles.

He or she represents the end customers and/or other stakeholders and is responsible for maximizing the value of the product by ensuring that the Scrum Team delivers the right work at the right time. The Scrum Product Owner decides the software requirements provided for a specific software version, and when the software will be released. She represents functional and nonfunctional demands from end-users.

That means that the Scrum Product Owner has to work very closely with the Scrum Team and coordinates their activities over the entire lifecycle of the project. No one else is allowed to impose the Scrum Team to work for a different set of priorities.

Essential tasks of a Scrum Product owner are:

To manage and clarify project requirements,
To guide releases and to ensure return on investment (ROI),
To closely work with the Scrum Team and enable it to deliver the correct work on time,
To manage stakeholders and their expectations,
To manage the Scrum Product Backlog.
The Scrum Product Owner can delegate certain activities (like physically maintaining the Scrum Product Backlog). However, he or she still owns the accountability of his or her tasks.

Managing the Product Backlog

The Scrum Product Owner is the only person allowed to own the contents of the Scrum Product Backlog. That means he or she needs to:

Create, maintain and clearly describe user stories in the Scrum Product Backlog,
Prioritize user stories to accomplish business goals and fulfil the mission of software product,
Ensure that the Scrum Team correctly comprehends and implements the user stories in the Scrum Product Backlog.
Release Management

The Scrum Product Owner is responsible for reaching the project goals. He or she creates and maintains the release plan and decides about deliveries, end-user functions, and the order they need to be delivered. Scrum Product Owners often manage the costs and budget of Scrum Teams too. They collaborate with the Scrum Team members to fine-tune, prioritize, and estimate user stories.

Stakeholder Management

External stakeholders should not directly bring their demands to the Scrum Team members. Instead, the Scrum Product Owner should collect and assess required functionalities with the stakeholders (for instance, with internal clients, representatives of external clients or end-users). The Scrum Product Owner combines, filters and initially prioritize these user stories before they’re discussed them with the rest of the Scrum Team.

Collaboration With The Scrum Team

For a successful project, the Scrum Product Owner and the Scrum Team must work very closely. The Scrum Product Owner is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum Team members are informed and aligned about the aimed goals of software they’re building.

During Sprint Review Meetings, the Scrum Product Owner is responsible for inspecting, accepting, or declining deliverables of the Scrum Team.

What Is The Role Of The Scrum Team Member? This Might Surprise You!

The Scrum Team Members implement the software. They jointly decide the number of requirements that they can undoubtedly deliver during a particular product increment called “Sprint”.

A high-performer scrum team has most of the software engineering skills typically in it. Software developers, architects, testers, database administrators, and team members from all other roles work together.

They jointly build and deliver great software their client is paying for.

Scrum team members do no longer belong to a functional silo of a matrix organization. Developers do no longer belong to software development competence centers, and testers do no longer belong to the software testing competence center, and so on.

Regardless of their past coordinates in the organization, members of a scrum team belong to their particular scrum project.

Now their job is to build the best possible software to deliver the requirements of their scrum product owner.

Characteristics of scrum teams are:

Empowered and Autonomous,
Cross-functional
Self-organized and small
Full-time participants
Working in the same room
One for all, all for one.
It’s an excellent time to remind that the Scrum Team members follow Scrum values persistently.

Courage
Focus
Commitment
Respect
Openness