Skip to main content

/ch/open Event: Scrum, Success and Quality

Yesterday I had the honor of talking to some 15 or 20 members of the Swiss Open System User Group. I like talking to experts because you always learn something from them, and yesterday was no exception.

As part of the introduction, we talked about why projects fail, which brought us to the question, "what is a successful project?" We talked about market acceptance, achieving the technical goals of the project, and customer satisfaction.

But, as I learned from the participants, there is also personal success in the project. "The project is a success when I enjoyed working on it". This aspect is often severely challenged in the crunch phase before project release (particularly when management is standing around looking for someone to motivate). A motivated developer is at least twice a good as that same person when s/he is demotivated.

Afterwards we talked about numerous topics, including the quality in software. How much quality does a project need? How do you assure quality? What is the role of an automatic test suite?

I like the analogy of a test suite being like scaffolding on a construction site. The scaffolding helps you build the building. It provides safety and security. It actually goes further, because it provides an 'as-built' documentation, which can be used to assure that future versions of the software conform to the behavior of the current version.

So, like when renovating a building, step 1) build the scaffolding, step 2) do the renovation, step 3) remove the scaffolding. You don't build the scaffolding after you've finished the building. You need it to build the building properly. (This explains partly why it is difficult to get management to authorize developing tests suites after the software is running and largely completed -- the building has been built!) It also underlines the importance of building the test suite as you build the product.

Hans Merki goes a step further.

He believes that the test suite is more the foundation of reliable software. For truly reliable applications, e.g. real time applications which a) have to work and b) in which recreating a error case after the fact is simply not possible, there is no substitute for designing quality into the product. In this case, self tests and logging and an ability to replay events can be critical to the success of the product.


The "devil's square" (also "devil's quadrat") attributed in various places to someone named Sneed (but I haven't been able to find the original source, or even his/her first name -- can anyone give me a pointer to the source?) shows the relation between Scope, Quality, Time and Cost. Scrum teams also create a formal of definition of done, which is negotiated with and agreed to by the product owner. This is the first approximation of the quality standard. But as Hans points out, the quality standard is also a requirements issue which impacts the fundamental architecture. So the quality standard should be consciously adopted in the process of creating the product.

BTW - The slides to my presentation, "Project Management with Scrum - what, why and how" are now available online.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…