Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rational Scrum?

A query just came up on the scrumdevelopment list:
My work is a RUP based shop. My team has been doing agile development and lately our PMO office has asked if I was interested in publishing a white paper for the company on the two. I have a decent amount of info and experience but was wondering if anyone has written something similiar or could point me toward something that has already been published?
Googling for "rational scrum" produces some interesting results. Jeff Sutherland explains why there is no rational software process. IBM explains how to embrace Scrum in RUP. And Zacharias Beckman wrote a field report about getting a project under control using a fusion of RUP and Scrum.

Beckman writes, "Rational itself is an excellent methodology and scales very well.... However, for all that I like Rational, it does have some holes… and these are plugged most wonderfully by Scrum. In fact, Rational and Scrum benefit each other so well I’ve started referring to the combination as 'Rational Scrum.'”

He goes on to list 10 positive characteristics of his combined methodology. As I interpret his text, the main contributions of Rational are its focus on "risk [which] keeps the team focused on the most difficult, potentially risky aspects of the project first," and "quality [which] becomes integral and continuous."

2 Points out of 10. I'm overwhelmed. (I'm also fair, someone coming from a Rational background might argue that some points of Scrum, such as iterations, are also found in Rational).

I don't agree that risk and quality are insufficiently addressed with Scrum. Managing risk is the job of the Product Owner and the works of Mike Cohn and the Poppendiecks describe excellent strategies for managing risk. And quality is always defined through the definition of done (and possibly additional requirements as well), so it is assured and inspected at every sprint.

And Beckmans article confirmed my own modest contribution to the literature on the difference between RUP and Scrum: "Ownership and accountability become the mainstay as everyone develops a long-term interest in the project"

People deliver projects, and Scrum is first and foremost about people.

So how should you move forward? Adopt Scrum. Understand (and internalize) the principles and values behind Scrum. Herein lies the major difference between the two. But don't throw the baby out with bath. So start with a Retrospective and be sure to identify what you are doing well. Keep those practices which work for you. And then experience how, using Scrum, you take you company to the next level.

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