By Aparna Jain
The decade of the 90s undoubtedly presented some of the most significant technological advances for mankind, particularly in the field of science and technology, which transformed dramatically with the World Wide Web. The Pentium processor, the BlackBerry, Bluetooth, flat screen displays, wireless networks, hand-held computers, and digital cameras were a few of the innovations to make their debut in the global marketplace.
In tandem with these technology advances, an increased demand for inexpensive software solutions led to the development of new methodologies, the most prominent of which include waterfall and agile. While waterfall encourages a sequential design process of eight stages in which one must be completed before the next can be initiated, agile follows an incremental approach where developers begin with a simple project design and work on small modules in weekly or monthly sprints. After each sprint, the project is tested and priorities are evaluated in order to flesh out bugs and receive customer feedback, which is incorporated into the design before the next sprint is run.
The agile concept—developed by small group of people who got together in 2001 to find a better approach to managing software development projects—is collaborative in nature and focuses on four basic principles including individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and responding to change over following a plan.
Short Sprints, Great Strides.
There are a number of agile methodologies but perhaps none as simple to implement as scrum. Like its namesake, scrummage—which is a rugby term for the formation used to restart a game after an infringement or other event interrupts play—relies on a small set of rules, creating an environment that allows teams to focus on innovation and problem solving while leveraging the strengths and abilities of each team member and stakeholder.
Scrum project development occurs in small increments, or sprints governed by three primary roles, including the product owner, who determines what needs to be built in 30 days or less; the development team, who builds what is needed in sprints of 30 days or less; and the scrum master, who manages the entire process.
Every sprint begins with the sprint planning meeting, in which the product owner prioritizes which features and functions from the product backlog will be incorporated into the iteration. The team then decides how the work gets done. During the sprint, team members check in at the daily scrum, a 15-minute standup meeting. Sprints conclude with both the sprint review meeting—where the team presents its work to the product owner who determines the next criteria—and the post-mortem sprint retrospective meeting. Here’s where lessons are learned and ideas are shared about what worked, what didn’t, and how the team can make improvements moving forward.
Proof beyond the Product
While this approach seems like the ideal work environment for the scrummers, here we outline its beneficiaries and the value it brings them offers.
High-value features are developed and delivered to customers more quickly and with shorter cycles. In addition, customers get to see working software and demonstrations at the end of each development iteration, which helps them visualize their requirements and make recommendations for modifications early on rather than towards the end of the project.
Vendors decrease overhead and increase efficiency by focusing development efforts on features that bring value and reduce time to market. Improved customer satisfaction translates to better customer retention and more positive customer references.
In addition to a creative and collaborative environment, teams derive satisfaction from short iterations and development cycles that allow them to focus on specific requirements, which increase productivity, efficiency, and continuous momentum throughout the project. With the opportunity to demonstrate their work at the end of every iteration, teams not only receive direct feedback from the stakeholders but can also see and measure achievements quickly.
Application and Product Managers
Application and product managers are responsible for ensuring that development work is aligned with customer needs. Scrum makes this alignment easier by providing frequent opportunities to re-prioritize work and ensure maximum delivery of value.
Scrum puts the control of the value stream back in the hands of the business and because it delivers products more quickly, Scrum allows clients to change priorities and requirements as needed.
Scrum establishes avenues for open exchange of ideas and new ways to overcome obstacles, building a culture of honesty and transparency at every stage. By embracing change, scrum methodology enables an organization to incorporate the sum of all it parts in order to achieve goals, honor commitments and establish trusting relationships.
With predictable delivery schedules and cross-functional, self-organizing teams, management can focus on positive outcomes, building customer and client relationships as well as strong, motivated, and inspired team members.
More predictable release cycles with built-in testing processes lead to higher product stability and quality and greater customer satisfaction.
Scrum acts as the catalyst to unlocking the true potential of each team member. By creating a safe working environment where people can thrive, the team learns to achieve a sustainable pace so that they can continue to be productive over the long haul.
It is important to help all stakeholders understand the scrum methodology—why and how will it work and what the benefits are to all—and give solid proof to a claim that scrum is the driving force to create the best outcomes and bring value to the whole. A methodology done well and one that provides value keeps all stakeholders engaged.
Benefits of the Scrum Framework
With minimal overhead and fast moving, cutting-edge development, the scrum framework—created with software development in mind—is rapidly being adapted by various industries, including education, marketing, and manufacturing. And for good reason; it is a distinct and fully visible process that produces not only a framework for delivering quality software results quickly but also welcomes changes, regardless of the development stage. Equally as important, it espouses a philosophy that has the real potential to shape the culture of an organization, where value is placed on teamwork, collaboration, and the inherent uniqueness of each individual. SW
Aparna Jain is a senior manager at AgreeYa Solutions. He offers 15 years of experience executing challenging IT projects for the public sector, healthcare, telecommunications and utilities industries. AgreeYa Solutions is a global provider of software, solutions, and services focused on deploying business-driven, technology-enabled solutions that create next-generation competitive advantages for customers.
Oct2015, Software Magazine