This article is about frequently asked questions when discovering Agile and Scrum. You will learn what Agile is and how Scrum can help you gain all the benefits of having good Agility.
What is an Agile Framework? What is Scrum? Why adopt Agile concepts? 3-5 benefits Benefits of being more agile with business. Benefits of being more agile with technology. Benefits of being more agile with people – collaboration. What is the main challenge of Scrum? How to adopt Agile transformation? Where to start to become Agile?
What is an Agile Framework?
It’s a modern way of prioritizing customer satisfaction, technical excellence, and effective collaboration during product development and delivery. Agile is an abbreviation that represents a list of values and principles aimed at better managing software development changes while focusing on customer satisfaction. An Agile framework means following a framework that emphasizes the values and principles described in the Agile Software Development Manifesto. http://agilemanifesto.org/iso/en/manifesto.html
It was defined in 2001 when several thought leaders met over a weekend to discuss software development advancements. Some of them had already explored frameworks like Scrum and Extreme Programming.
Since 2001, the use of the manifesto has spread and inspired the creation of other frameworks, such as Kanban. Over time, various fields (like Marketing, Communication, and the food industry) have started to draw inspiration from the manifesto to better adapt to changes and deliver more value to clients.
Today, the term Agile is often used to refer to the application of the manifesto in all its forms.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a framework in which people can solve complex and adaptive problems while delivering products of the highest possible value in a productive and creative way. It’s a simple framework consisting of 3 roles, 3 artifacts, and 5 events.
The Product Owner defines a vision to create or maintain a product to meet a client’s need. They hire developers that knows how to build this product in the best possible way. The team should be small to simplify communication and should self-organize to achieve their goal. To embody the values and principles defined by the Agile Software Development Manifesto, they count on a Scrum Master. The Scrum Master empowers the team while applying the Scrum framework, facilitating creative conversations, and providing the team with what they need to perform.
They meet during planning, inspect the Product Backlog to create a plan to achieve their goal. The Product Backlog is a list of things to do, ordered by the Product Owner. It can contain use cases, functional or non-functional requirements, user stories, bugs, etc. – everything needed to satisfy the client or users. The iteration is called a Sprint, with a maximum duration of 30 days. Having equal-duration Sprints is recommended for simplicity in capturing and analyzing data, as well as maintaining a steady pace. Maintaining a steady pace is essential for continuous improvement. The Sprint is also the container for other events. When one Sprint ends, another begins immediately.
After planning, the development team starts building the product. Every day, they meet for up to 15 minutes to plan their day. This event is called the Daily Scrum.
At the end of the Sprint, the Product Owner gathers with interested parties (clients, users, stakeholders), along with the rest of the team, to inspect what has been done during the Sprint based on their “Definition of Done”. This is a list that defines quality attributes applied to their increment (the product). During this conversation, the Product Owner hopes to gain ideas and feedback on what was done to better satisfy clients and users in the future. This is also the ideal time to discuss upcoming priorities, planned deliveries, and shed light on information that impacted the Product Backlog. This event is called the Sprint Review.
Following this meeting, the Scrum Team discuss how to improve the next Sprint. They can inspect various aspects of their work, whether business, technology, process, communication, or even refine their “Done” definition. The result of this meeting is an item or a list of things to do aimed at improving the team’s performance. These items are immediately taken into consideration during the next Planning. This event is called the Sprint Retrospective.
Then the team engages in a Planning session and starts a new Sprint.
Why adopt Agile concepts?
These concepts are valuable when navigating a world that constantly surprises us, where our knowledge is often not as extensive as we’d like it to be, and where we have to make more assumptions than we can imagine. This world is defined as “complex.” It’s a world where the combination of the state of the three categories (Requirements, Technology, People) requires us to take small steps forward, inspect our progress, and then continue.
Adopting Agile values and principles allows you to remain sensitive to these three categories and give your best for your clients, knowing that everything can change at any moment.
Benefits of being more agile with business:
- Make a greater impact on the client by developing what meets their evolving needs.
- Stay relevant in the market by keeping up with the competition.
- Increase your chances of success.
Benefits of being more agile with technology:
- Support significant changes in direction with minimal production changes.
- Reduce product maintenance costs.
- Leverage the benefits of the latest technologies.
Benefits of being more agile with people – collaboration:
- Emerge with the most innovative solutions.
- Keep process
- costs low.
- Simplify development efforts.
- Retain your workforce.
- Attract talent.
What is the main challenge of Scrum?
A phenomenon often observed is documented as Zombie Scrum. It’s “doing” Scrum without really improving over time, without questioning how to become more efficient. It’s being comfortable in the status quo. Doing the mechanics with no purpose behind it.
The purpose of using Scrum is to deliver functional product increments frequently to clients and users. If people don’t see how to address the challenges to achieve this, the status quo settles in, and the rhythm of inspection and adaptation fades over time. Events may be conducted, roles assigned, and Scrum artifacts present, but the benefits are not realized.
This can happen for various reasons:
- A team lacking the ability to produce a functional increment
- A lack of sensitivity from management or employees who prefer the status quo
- Reverting to old habits
These are primarily human challenges at the heart of Scrum implementation problems. This is why having a Coach or Mentor’s guidance is popular. Developing this sensitivity, this resilience in the three categories is necessary for ensuring your success. When properly adopted, Scrum allows us to grow and thrive individually and as a team.
How to adopt Agile transformation?
Agile transformation can take various forms. The most effective is to seek consensus from the people who will be part of this transformation. This consensus is important because many decisions that follow will need to be made by the team itself. It’s an excellent way to align everyone’s understanding and get better engagement. Identify who will be part of this transformation, gather them, and start the conversation.
Once the desire to change as a team is well-established, the idea is to develop a common foundation, a common goal, a common language, basic rules, and practices, and start on the right foot. The foundational Scrum training (Professional Scrum Foundation) is an excellent starting point for a team. More advanced training can be considered for experienced teams.
Many organizations have adopted Scrum without providing basic training to their employees. The task of teaching the basic principles then falls on the Scrum Master, and it’s rare to see a novice master the foundation well enough to teach it. If they have a coach, the challenge will be delivering the same message to everyone, which takes longer since it’s on a case-by-case basis, one-on-one, or in small groups.
After the transition begins, the focus should be on continuous learning and developing specialized skills in different roles.
Usually, before moving to a second wave of training, it’s helpful to practice Scrum to the best of your ability for a few Sprints. This way, you’ll face challenges, and during your next training, you’ll have the opportunity to ask better questions.
Where to start to become Agile?
Read agilemanifesto.org, it’s certainly a safe starting point.
The book “The Agile Samurai” can give you a good overview of how to see things differently.
For bilingual training in the Ottawa region, visit the course schedule.