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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:
  1. Getting started with Scrum. Getting the first team working with Scrum.
  2. Crisis Project Management. The project is behind and over budget. Everyone is unhappy and no one sees the way forward. What now?
  3. Transforming IT into a Lean Organization - what would it mean to reduce the concept-to-release-time of major projects from 3 years down to 1 year, or even less? How do we do that?

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Sample Definition of Done

Why does Scrum have a Definition of Done? Simple, everyone involved in the project needs to know and understand what Done means. Furthermore, Done should be really done, as in, 'there is nothing stopping us from earning value with this function, except maybe the go-ahead from the Product Owner. Consider the alternative:
Project Manager: Is this function done?
Developer: Yes
Project Manager: So we can ship it?
Developer: Well, No. It needs to be tested, and I need to write some documentation, but the code works, really. I tested it... (pause) ...on my machine. What's wrong with this exchange? To the developer and to the project manager, "done" means something rather different. To the developer in this case, done means: "I don't have to work on this piece of code any more (unless the tester tells me something is wrong)." The project leader is looking for a statement that the code is ready to ship.

At its most basic level, a definition of Done creates a sh…

Scaling Scrum: SAFe, DAD, or LeSS?

Participants in last week's Scrum MasterClass wanted to evaluate approaches to scaling Scrum and Agile for their large enterprise. So I set out to review the available frameworks. Which one is best for your situation?

Recently a number of approaches have started gaining attention, including the Scaled Agile Framework ("SAFe") by Dean Leffingwell, Disciplined Agile Development (DAD), by Scott Ambler, and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. (Follow the links for white papers or overviews of each approach).

How to compare these approaches? My starting point is Scrum in the team. Scrum has proven very effective at helping teams perform, even though it does not directly address the issues surrounding larger organizations and teams. An approach to scaling Scrum should not be inconsistent with Scrum itself.

Scrum implements a small number of principles and constraints: Inspect and Adapt. An interdisciplinary Team solves the problem. Deliver something of va…

What is the role of a Business Analyst in Scrum?

When I teach a CSM class, my goal is that my participants go home delighted (and of course that they learn about Scrum, that they are motivated to do Scrum, and can pass the online CSM exam). So after every class, I ask for feedback, in particular what could I do to get a better score. And for the next class, I strive to implement or address two or three of the points raised by my participants.

One issue that was raised was unanswered questions. It is annoying to ask questions and not get answers! Time is limited, so it is not always possible to answer all questions, so I thought, why not answer them on my blog? So here goes, first question:
What is the role of a Business Analyst in Scrum? This question is a challenge because Scrum doesn't answer this question! Scrum is a simple, team-based framework for solving complex problems. The roles and ceremonies in Scrum are designed to ensure that inspect and adapt can occur regularly with complete and correct information. Scrum does not…