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Showing posts from January, 2008

How long to Sprint?

As we were preparing to use Scrum, the customer asked, How long should a Sprint last? What is the right length for a Sprint? Should it always be the same, or can we vary the tempo?

There are general considerations, but these will be influenced by the specific situation.

Here in Switzerland, the public transportation runs on a beat. The intercity train from Zürich to Bern leaves every half hour. There's a train on the hour and at 32 minutes past the hour, every hour, and they arrive 57 minutes later - dependable and predictable. This is a good reputation for software teams to strive for.

The neighborhood bus that takes me home applies almost the same deal: 17, 37 and 57 minutes past the hour during rush hour. But during the day, the bus suffers from what's known as a Taktbruch - breaking the rhythm. During the day, it leaves at 17 and 47, and on the weekend it's completely different. So I have to remember when which frequency applies, which makes me (and everyone else) much le…

Sprint Zero

When I joined the project, we had just finished a release, but didn't have a clear definition of what to do next. So the developers were instructed to use the time productively, to wrap up whatever they were doing or do any long postponed housekeeping. I didn't want to take time to figure out what they were doing, much less tell them what they should be doing. So it was their first taste of self organization.

The customer was a bit skeptical about Scrum, but given the problems to date and the time pressures, he was willing to play the guinea pig.

During Sprint Zero, we got ready for our first Sprint. Scrum makes very clear what needs to be done before you can start Sprinting.

Scope, Quality, Cost, Time. These are the factors that any project manager has to have under control and these are defined very precisely for each sprint.

One one level, getting ready for Scrum means getting an initial definition of the project parameters. On the other level, getting ready for Scrum means edu…

Really Getting Started

"... and do exactly what he [Ken Schwaber] says."

Sounds easy, doesn't it? Well, it is, and it isn't. And mostly it's not. But the Ken Schwaber's book does outline how to do Scrum and it does work. Even if you don't do everything, you'll get better, but you do have to get key things right or it can backfire on you.

I've had the "pleasure" of taking over two foundering projects and converting them to Scrum. So there is the way I did it. And there is the way I would do it, the next time I have the situation.

My first big project had been in development for over two years before I got involved. They had done two releases, but the releases were perceived by the customer as being of poor quality, there was much missing functionality (functionality which his customers needed, but for whatever reason, wasn't in the product), and the the functionality that was present had bugs.

The emotional level between my company and the customer had deterior…

Next Scrum Breakfast in Zürich Feb 6, 2008

At the next Scrum Breakfast in Zürich, Marcello Leonardi, Scrummaster of the namics Project White Label Classifieds will present his experiences with this project. WLC -- known in the market at "Publisherconnect" – is the basis for many classified advertsing market places. Some of the more prominent examples include NZZexecutive.ch, Publicjobs.ch, osthome.ch, pilote.ch hand many others. Marcello has been a member of the development team since over 1 year and took over the scrummaster Roll about 6 months ago. He will talk about the project, both from the perspective of a developer and from that of the Scrummaster.

Topics:
WLC Project OverviewIntroducing Scrum into the WLC ProjectCurrent State of the development of WLC 5.0Leasons Learned Date: 6.2.2008 (always the first Wednesday of the Month)
Time: Doors open at 8.00am, conclusion 10.00am.
The talk starts at 8.35 (so that you can come by train at 8.30 and still be on time).
Location: namics ag, Konradstrasse 12, CH-8005 Zürich

The…

How to Start Doing Scrum

I got interested in Scrum when I heard about it at MySQL. They had something called a Daily Scrum, in which all the developers participated. Not working in development, I wasn't part of that process, but a year later, I was wandering through Barnes & Noble at Crossroads Mall, and there was Ken Schwaber's Book "Agile Project Management with Scrum".

My previous contacts with project management convinced me that project management was about estimating and counting beans, producing lots of documentation, and other very useful tasks. Maybe something a bank or other large enterprise would want to do, but somehow very removed from the actual process of producing software.

Ken's book spoke to me, so I bought it. It was a revelation! Finally a book on project management that actually provided useful information about how to plan, estimate and organize a project. A book that talked about people, what they should be doing, and how they should organize themselves.

So if yo…

Why the name Scrum Breakfast?

The Scrum Breakfast in Zürich is an event which I organize and moderate. Sponsored by my future ex-employer, namics, the Scrum Breakfast is monthly exchange of information around Scrum. The breakfast offers discussion, information and hands-on experience to CIO's, executive and operational project managers. The program starts with a short presentation about on an in interesting topic around Scrum. Then follows a moderated discussion among the participants to encourage an exchange of know-how and experiences.

The Scrum Breakfast takes place the first Wednesday of each month. The doors open at 8am and the talk starts at 8.35 (so people coming by train can arrive at 8.30 and still catch the start of the talk). The presentations & discussion are usually in German.

In April, I will become an independent consultant, but I will continue to organize the Scrum Breakfast in Zürich and namics will continue to sponsor it.

So the Scrum Breakfast is a focal point for the Scrum community in Swi…

Getting Started

This is a new blog about Scrum.

Scrum is a Project Management Framework, right? Well yes and no. Scrum is both a tool for managing projects, but is also a way of life. The heart of Scrum is a simple cycle: Plan, Do, Evaluate, Improve. On the one hand, Scrum empowers the team to get things done. On the other, it empowers the Scrum Master to recognize and remove impediments. This makes Scrum the tip of much larger icebergs, Lean Software Development and Lean Product Development.

The core idea of Lean is eliminating waste. This idea has already transformed manufacturing and has tremendous potential to transform service oriented businesses. A team that implements Scrum will quickly become more efficient, but also start to discover the waste, delays and inefficiencies elsewhere in the organization. Converting the first team to Scrum is potentially the first step in transforming the organization to a higher, more efficient level.

This blog will address the topics that I address professionally: