Video – Introduction to Scrum

A colleague of mine, Michael James, just posted his Introduction to Scrum video on YouTube I think is the right length and depth for an overview – it’s not so short as to be trite (or worse, incorrect), but it’s not an exhaustive examination of Scrum either. This video is good prep for people who are planning to enter a CSM class and don’t want to go in cold. It is also good for stakeholders around the company who want an understanding of Scrum so that they can work better with their development teams.

I’d be very interested in hearing your views of this video.

The complete series is also available, providing most of the information you need to pass the Certified Scrum Master or Professional Scrum Master exams:

  1. Introduction to Scrum
  2. Backlog Refinement (Grooming) Meeting
  3. Sprint Planning Meeting
  4. Daily Scrum (standup) Meeting
  5. Sprint Review Meeting
  6. Sprint Retrospective Meeting

Here’s a lower-quality version of the first one:


Posted under Scrum, Scrum Coaching, Scrum training

This post was written by admin on December 20, 2011

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Release Planning Using Agile

Just because you’re doing scrum, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook with finance and management when it comes to giving a real estimate for completion.

Scrum, as most agile processes, takes the approach that cost and time are fixed and that it’s the scope (or features) that are variable.

“You’ll rarely be remembered for missing a feature…but you’ll never be forgotten for missing a schedule”….. Which is why it’s important to make sure that communication with all stakeholders is crisp and that they understand how projects are being scheduled.

Ken Whitaker has written a detailed article on The Agile Schedule posted on article is fairly technical and includes concepts such as the “cone of uncertainty”, “rough order of magnitude”, and “definitive scheduling”.When I took the Scrum Master certification course we covered these concepts at a high level. We also talked about backlog grooming and why a good and consistent backlog grooming will do wonders for improving release scheduling. Although backlog grooming is not a formal component of the Scrum process, Ken Schwaber, who founded Scrum, advises teams to dedicate five percent of every sprint to this activity. Everyone should attend the backlog grooming meeting and help the Scrum product owner prepare the scrum backlog for the next sprint planning meeting. Activities during this meeting often include breaking epics into stories, adding stories to the backlog, clearly defining acceptance criteria and more. If this is done on a consistent basis you will greatly improve your agile release planning.

Posted under Agile Methodology, Scrum

This post was written by admin on April 23, 2010

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Is Agile En Vogue?

I just came across a really interesting read on the Dr. Dobb’s site. In Ivar Jacobson and Bertrand Meyer’s article “Methods Need Theory,” the two consider the natural impulse for the creator of something to tout it as the latest and greatest. Drawing parallels to the fashion industry’s flash-in-the-pan fads, Jacobson and Meyer suggest that software, like fashion, is not immune to the crazes its most influential tastemakers promote. Certainly, software has seen various management paradigms rise and fall in terms of popularity and the majority of their article focuses on today’s most headline-grabbing trend: agility.

Now, agile has been repeatedly taken to task for being a vague method. After all, it’s really just an umbrella term that collects all the practices that fall beneath it. Of those, several which had their heyday—DSDM, Crystal—have fallen by the wayside. Scrum seems to have emerged the victor in this fight, with its careful balance of structure and flexibility.

One interesting thing to note about Scrum is that it was, in large part, inspired by complex adaptive systems theory, which is, in essence, a theory of evolution. The idea was that Scrum teams—through regular points of inspection and adaptation—would follow the path toward survival, much like a species learning to adapt in the midst of an evolving climate or food chain. This article, written by Laszlo Szalvay of Danube, a Scrum company, suggests that, if that’s the case, Scrum has a mechanism built into it to ensure that it stays relevant to emerging conditions.

What do you think? Are Scrum and generalized agile flavors of the week or built to last?

Posted under Agile Methodology, Scrum

This post was written by admin on September 10, 2009

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ScrumWorks Pro 4: The Future of Program Management

Most agile methodologies were created to be used with small teams who are all located in the room. So what happens in agile environments where there are many teams, some of which are un-collocated, working on complex development projects? The answer is to employ an agile tool. However, agile tools have historically focused on communication and collaboration—that is, they have been most effective at simply uniting team members who are geographically distributed, ensuring that everyone is apprised of task progress and other critical updates. But as agile methods continue to grow in popularity and are increasingly adopted by large organizations, agile management tools must keep pace with the amplified complexity of developing software within such environments.

One of the most common challenges faced by such organizations is program management. That is, because many organizations develop product features that will be utilized across a range of products, it is necessary to monitor progress at the program level (where the completion dates of various product features converge to create the product itself).

Luckily, software publisher Danube Technologies has been paying close attention to the problems faced by agile practitioners working within deeply complex development environments. Its ScrumWorks Pro tool has always delivered great collaboration and task management functionality, but now ScrumWorks Pro 4 addresses the need for a robust program management platform with the concept of “Epics.” Epics allow users to create cross-product themes at the program level, which, in turn, percolate down to the constituent products. In essence, an Epic is like an uber-PBI, which has its own scope and allows organizations to gauge progress not only at the Epic level, but also across multiple products, a single product, or programs.

This is a major step forward in program management. You can read more about this release of ScrumWorks Pro.

Posted under Agile Methodology, Scrum

This post was written by admin on September 1, 2009

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Scrum In Practice

When I first heard about Scrum, I decided to educate myself by reading up on it. But the more I read, the more Scrum seemed to be a deeply intuitive framework based on common sense. I wondered, “Why isn’t everyone working this way?” But I didn’t realize just how big of an impact Scrum could make until I attended a ScrumMaster Certification course and had the chance to simulate the Scrum process firsthand.

Suddenly, what appeared straightforward, even obvious when I read about it became complicated. Working with team members who had different levels of experience with Scrum and conflicting ideas about what direction to take the project (in the simulation, a brochure for Martians visiting Earth) meant that we had to really trust the roles and processes of Scrum to lead the team to success. Which is exactly what we did: The Product Owner communicated her vision and the acceptance criteria sheÂ’d be judging our work by. The team then worked to create a brochure that met those criteria, checking with the Product Owner throughout the simulation to ensure that we were staying on track. In all, we replicated an entire sprint over the course of a few hours.

Interestingly, that experience of seeing how ScrumÂ’s processes and principles play out in a team setting was just as valuable as all the reading I had done. Just through a short, hands-on exercise, I saw how self-organization works, how hard it is for a Product Owner to resist micromanaging, and how two-week sprints force teams to get to work, rather than waste time gathering requirements. It prepared me for real world Scrum by showing me the strengths of the framework and the challenges of teamwork.

To those who have been reading a lot about Scrum, but have never practiced it, I would urge you to consider Scrum training. Not only does it provide a foundation of knowledge about Scrum, but it’ll give you your first taste of actually working within a Scrum paradigm. And that experience — even in simulation — brings Scrum’s exciting potential to life.

Posted under Scrum

This post was written by admin on October 13, 2008

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