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  Effective Agile Blog
Jun 10

Written by: Rod Claar
6/10/2009 12:00 AM 

You might be thinking that my title would get a response from Homer Simpson (Doh!), but too many teams try to do Scrum or Agile in a rigid and prescriptive way. There are a couple of main reasons that I see this. The first is the desire for new teams to “do” Scrum right when they are new to Scrum. I resemble that feeling! On my first Scrum project (several years ago) I defended the process against change rather than being open to process change. Oh well, we all have to learn somehow!

Change for the sake of change is not a good thing. Any process change should be driven from retrospective discussions and the desire to reduce or eliminate impediments. What is holding your team and product back? What was the root cause of the problems you encountered? The team should discuss these issues and pick one or two top issues and agree to work on them and try to find solutions to them. If that means changing Scrum, then CHANGE SCRUM!

The other major cause I see of process rigidity is on teams and projects that are large and complex enough to require an electronic system for tracking work items, making distributed team communication easy to find and use and reporting out status and progress. There are a lot of tools out there and any tool, used to drive the team and project, can strip agility from your organization. However nearly all teams have some distributed component and we all know that the last simple project was done in 1959! This means that almost all teams and project need a system to help manage the project.
 
I’m a white board and sticky type of agilest. Give me a team room with white boards and a bunch of multicolored stickys and I’m a happy camper! Why? Because I know that the white board and stickys are NOT the project, the people and the conversations they have with each other are the project and the white boards and stickys are used to drive those conversations and track the work. However for most teams and most organizations, my agile dream project just does not exist and trying to force it to be is foolishness. Most organizations are going to need a tool to manage the project and provide visibility.
 
What makes a good Scrum / Agile tool?
1) It must not have a fixed process flow. The team must be able to tweak the process to fit their culture and organization.
2) It must be simple enough to enable not get in the way. The team must drive the project rather than the tool.
3) It must produce status and progress reports that are customizable and accessible to the business. Feedback is the process that keeps Scrum / Agile on
track in a world of changing priorities. Having status and progress reports that truly inform the stakeholders and project sponsors of where the project is drives the prioritization process to meet business needs.
4) The process must have a business value driven approach. In other words the project management tool must drive business value and make business value delivery clear to the team and stakeholders. If a tool is a bottom-up project management tool, the team is building the trees at such a high rate of speed that the forest of business value is totally obscured.
 
How the team uses the tool and how the tool allows the team to focus on delivering business value is the main critical issue. A tool must be flexible.
 
This week Daptiv released Daptiv Scrum that can be used in conjunction with their popular Daptiv PPM product. These tools allow companies to manage and track all their work in one centrally visible source. This allows the business to see the benefits of an agile process. After configuring the system to match the process at the organization the team and management can be comfortable knowing that the team is driving the product rather than the tool. Along with the standard Scrum roles of Product Owner and Scrum Master you can create custom roles to meet your need for engineering leadership, release management, configuration management and other custom role.
 
One of the biggest advantages of Daptiv Scrum is the ability to easily manage a story driven product backlog. Priority changes are done via drag and drop right in the product backlog.
 
Daptiv Scrum also gives you the reporting artifacts you need to manage the scrum process: Sprint Burndown, Release Burndown, Sprint Summary including calculated velocity, Sprint Tracking, and Features by Product Category. They’re all here.
 
However one of the best advantages is the ease of setup and maintenance. Built on a web model, Daptiv delivers automatic updates via the web which frees your team from updates and configuration issues. This ISO 27001 Certified organization provides your team with the security, redundancy, uptime, maintenance and new features so your organization can focus on delivering business value.
 
For more information about Daptiv Scrum see their web site at Daptiv.com See the press release at http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Daptiv-Inc-1001235.html .
 
Oh! I almost forgot!  Play the Escape from Scrum Island game!

Copyright ©2009 Rod Claar

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The Role of the Product Owner in Scrum

Friday, June 19, 2009

The goal of the Product Owner must be to deliver the right business value. To do this, they engage the team(s) to create solutions that deliver the business value. The Product Owner is listening to and evaluating the needs of the stakeholder community. They must have a great business sense and understand their market and customers. They must understand what is technically possible. From all this input they deliver a stream of input to the team about what the priorities are. They are constantly updating this information and evaluating the output of the team to check it for completeness and correctness.

Scrum is a Flexible Process!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Most organizations reacquire a tool to help manage complex distributed team projects. To be Agile the tool must be flexible.

  From rod-claar.net

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