Software Engineering

(Fr)agile software development with SCRUM?

SCRUM = Agility

SCRUM enables you and your team to achieve goals more effectively and efficiently. It allows faster and agile software development cycles resulting in functional product increments on a regular basis. SCRUM also initiates and improves communication – both within your team and with the stakeholders.

Simply put, SCRUM is just much more fun for every person involved in a project – and as everybody knows: when something is done with fun the result is always muuuuuuch better. Finally, SCRUM is not only limited to software projects but can be applied in a variety of project contexts.

The red pill

Dear C-level executives, dear project managers, I am sorry to tell you but please close the „Introduction to SCRUM“ book now, take the red pill from the movie „Matrix“ and face: reality.

Don’t get me wrong: when executed properly SCRUM is a powerful methodology and can produce outstanding results. However, SCRUM often feels like a personal plan to lose some weight: in theory, changing your diet and doing more sports makes perfect sense and sounds like the most effective way to achieve your goal – often supported and visualized by a diet plan and activity schedule.

Experience shows: following this plan and schedule turns out to be really hard. Often times you put in some effort – but sooner or later you lose focus and the plan… well, come on, it was just a plan – nobody (with sufficient experience…) seriously expects to stick 100% to a plan, right? So what’s the problem?

No pain, no gain

Okay, “no pain no gain“ might not be very original, but it is just so true. The question you should pose (and answer!) to yourself is: “When SCRUM offers so much gain to me, where the hell’s my pain!?

In my opinion one of the main reasons that endanger a successful implementation of SCRUM is:

DAILY BUSINESS!

Wow. Well, sorry if you expected something more thrilling.

Just like a personal diet plan (screwed up by occasional, spontaneous everyday life events) a SCRUM project needs a relatively high level of discipline and attention, continuously! – and that takes time.

Time that you, your team, your stakeholders might not have or not be willing to invest, respectively. Specifically: if your project’s business side is working on your value chain’s core processes every “gain” in your SCRUM project might translate into a significant and even immediate “pain” for generating value.

The point of no return

If you are reading this article on a touch screen device, don’t try to adjust volume or brightness with the element below. Actually, it represents my simplest visualization of a SCRUM project:

SCRUM1

What you should do/have done before the red dot:

  • Analyze your business processes
  • Specify the requirements
  • Build up a fat backlog for further break down
  • Define priority 1 user stories

What you should do after the red dot:

  • Implement stories
  • Further break down of backlog into user stories
  • Test, Test, Test (this also includes the project’s business side!)

Back to the matrix

Usually you can find yourself within one of the following quadrants:

SCRUM2

If you are in the upper right corner, you are (most likely) doing quite fine and your project should progress very well. Thanks for reading my article and I hope you come back to our blog.

However, if – based on an honest evaluation of your (planned) project! – you locate yourself in the lower left quadrant, then… well, for obvious reasons let’s say it’d be okay to start sweating now.

Let me know your opinion and if you have experienced similar – or different – situations in your SCRUM projects.

In my next article I will provide you with information on what usually happens when trapped in the lower left quadrant (that is: quite interesting project behavior). Well, good news is: there are possible countermeasures you can take – when executed effectively you have a chance of moving into a more productive quadrant.

So stay tuned!