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Showing posts from July, 2008

Who Manages Risk in a Scrum Project?

I'm not sure if there is a simple answer to that question. There are lots of different kinds of risk, so who manages what may well change over time.

Even before the team is founded or designated to the project, there is the sponsor. S/he may be the person with the vision, the instigator of the project, or s/he may just be the person with for the money. In either case, s/he is or will eventually designate the product owner, whose primary responsibility is financial.

I think it is legitimate for the project owner to ask risk oriented questions right at the beginning: What are the big risks in the projects? What will cost us money if they happen or if we don't prepare for them properly? How do we mitigate those risks, keep our options open, and handle the issues gracefully when they happen? Once the team is consituted, these are questions for them to think about as well.

There are many risks, some more likely than others. Some "risks" are not risks at all, they are cert…

When I started blogging, my (personal) objective was to make it easy for people who might be interested in my services to find me -- I figured they can find me easier than I can find them.

As the Scrum Breakfast blog has developed, it has taken on a life of its own, leading to invitations to do interesting things with interesting people. One such invitation came from Artem Marchenko, publisher of, the online journal of Scrum and XP software development.

Today I start as a regular contributor to ASD, focused on Scrum and Scrum coaching. My first article, Start with Trust, Start with a Retrospective is now online for your reading pleasure.

Thank you Artem for this opportunity, I'm really looking forward to interesting articles and interesting discussions! To your readers, I look forward to their comments and their suggestions for topics!

P.S. You can view my ASD blog online or subscribe to it.


Archem informs me that there is a DZone widget on all t…

Thought for the day: Venture Capitalists Should Only Invest in Agile Companies

In a new talk, Scrum cofounder Jeff Sutherland makes a compelling argument for Scrum, XP and Lean as the basis for "hyper-productive" companies. The potential improvement is on the order of a factor of 10(!). But to get those gains, you have to adopt Scrum and adapt yourself to Scrum, not the other way around.

The actual competitive advantage which can be achieved by consequently deploying the principles and practices of Scrum, Lean and XP have coincided with substantial revenue gains for the companies concerned:
Excellent Scrum - annual revenue up 400% Good Scrum - revenue up 300% Pretty Good Scrum - revenue up 150% - 200% ScrumButt - revenue up 0-35% BTW - "ScrumButt" companies score 7 or less on the Nokia test.

His recommendations to investors:
Invest only in Agile projectsInvest only in market leading, industry standard processes – this means Scrum and XP Ensure teams implement basic Scrum practices
His recommendations to managers:
Get your teams to pass the Nokia …

Next Event/Cooperation with Jugs and /ch/open

Today the Swiss Open System User Group and Java User Group Switzerland announced a cooperative agreement for Scrum Breakfast Training Courses this September.

Members of either organization will receive a 20% discount on their registration fees if they register on the /ch/open registration page.

Furthermore, I will speak at an event hosted by jugs: Introduction to Agile Project Management with Scrum. Participation is free for Jugs and /ch/open members.

These should be good events and good courses. I am proud to work with both groups and look forward to see you at one of these events or courses!

Books for Getting Started With Scrum

A collegue of mine asked me yesterday, "As a CIO, what books should I read to get up to speed on Scrum?" Here are my recommendations:
Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber. The Basics, so start here.Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn  - How to plan the projectUser Stories Applied by Mike Cohn - how to gather requirements and size the projectImplementing Lean Software Development by Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck -- 7 principles to guide you from Concept to CashLean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit by Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck -- 22 Tools from Seeing Waste to Contracting alternatives to get you from Concept to Cash. These books are focused on strategic and operational management.

What are your suggestions for engineering practice books?

Google'd ergo Sum

Traffic referred by Search Engines  June 16 to July 9, 2008
I can be google'd, therefore I exist.

12 days ago, google delisted my blog from their index. No warning, no comment, no explanation. But the effects were immediate and dramatic. And no suggestions on how to get back in their good graces.

I got some help on LinkedIn - the most important of which was a suggestion to submit a request for reconsideration through Google web tools. It worked; 4 days after submitting the request, my site is once again receiving search traffic.

Of the web sites to which I have access to statistics, about 95% of visits from search engines originate from Google. was no exception. Just how important is Google to today's web site?

The questions for this week's poll (admitedly off-topic, but I can't resist):
How much of your traffic in last 30 days originated from search engines?How much of that search engine traffic originated from google? …

Next Scrum Breakfast in Zürich - September / October

The next two Scrum Breakfasts in Zürich will be dedicated to the theme, Scrum meets reality.
Case 1: Scrum and Offshoring: Scrum emphasizes communication and collocation. Offshoring is by defniition not collocated and communication is limited by distance, language and cultural barriers. Fredi Schmidli of SwissIT Bridge, a software development company with development resources mostly in Vietnam will present how the business works, what has been successful, where there could be improvement. Then we will discuss as a group how Scrum can be applied to the problem.
September 3, 2008,  8.00 to 10.00 at namics.
Case 2: Scrum meets RUP: One company, one established process, one up and coming newcomer. How do we deal with the problem? Daniel Tobler of Zühlke (a company with long RUP tradition) will discuss how they position the two frameworks and where Scrum is gaining adoption and where not at Zühlke.
October 1, 2008,  8.00 to 10.00 at namics.I will send out invitations as we get closer to the…

Managing Scrum: The Right Tool for the Job

So what is the best tool for managing Scrum? Well, it depends. It depends on you and your situation. Michael Dubakov recently asked When is a whiteboard a better choice? He proposes a decision matrix to evaluate the choices, based on a list of 9 criteria:
Planning process Plan visibilityPlan updateVelocity tracking, Time trackingBurn Down Update and other charts updateCommunicationReportingPeople involvement CostAgile Tools Decision Matrix
I've captured Michael's Agile Tools Decision Matrix in a spreadsheet which you can download and modify to suit your needs. Just as an aside, he also stumbled upon a great name for cards, post-its and manual burndown charts: tangible tools. Even though he didn't really use it, I love it! It's succinct and correct, and the inherent advantage of tangible tools just jumps off the page - I will use the term moving forward.

When to use tangible tools

Tangible tools are great for learning the processes and principles. Hung on the wall, th…

Managing Scrum: Traditional Project Management Software

From the moment I started working with Scrum until I wrote the quick poll on agile tool usage, it never even occurred to me to consider using classical project management tools like Microsoft Project. Why not?

Just as Neo knows that there is no spoon, and managers need to learn that there is no box, agile project managers know that there is no critical path. The world view, basic concepts and individual responsibilities in a Scrum environment are different and so the needs of the underlying software are different as well.

The Product Owner negotiates with the team on the basis of functionality to be realized, not in terms of tasks to be accomplished. The Scrum master eliminates impediments and helps assure that everyone is working on the highest priority stories in the current Sprint. The team members look to the task board to know what to do, to inform their colleagues of what they are doing, and to update their status and their estimates daily. The state of the project is visible f…

Directory of Scrum Management Tools

Where do you find Scrum Management tools? Here are links to the suppliers mentioned in the poll on Scrum PM Tools:
Tangible Tools (card, paper, wall)Excel or OpenOffice SpreadsheetGoogle Docs Spreadsheet

Jira (update: I would include mention GreenHopper explicitly)
Microsoft Project (or other "classical" PM software)MingleRally DevScrum for Team System v2.0ScrumWorksTargetProcessVersionOneXPlannerOther OpenSource Agile Tools Other tools (added thanks to comments or direct feedback):
Banana ScrumScrumDeskScrumytinyPM Open Source:
Agilo for Scrum
If I've missed anything important, please add a comment, and I'll put it in the main article

Scrum Management Tool Poll Results: Moving Away From Cards?

The poll on Scrum / Agile tools usage was the most popular Scrum Breakfast poll to date — 100 responses, of which 63 were using a dedicated agile project management tool. A market leader seems to be emerging in the agile project management space. I've finally gotten a chance to compare the results of this Poll with those of the Scrumdevelopment poll on the same subject from December 2006. The results indicate significant changes in what tools agile teams are using to manage their work. I wanted the results to be comparable with the Scrumdevelopment poll, so respondants could only pick one tool. So even though they might use several tools, they had to choose which one was the most important.
The data indicates a significant shift towards dedicated agile project management software (from 7 to 63%), away from Spreadsheets ( down 38% to 9%) and Wiki &Other/Homegrown tools (together down from 33% to 6%), and to a lesser extent cards (down from 36 to 18%). Open Source solutions an…

Scrum: "That won't work here!"

This morning, François Bachmann gave us a preview of his talk for Agile 2008 in Toronto. He talked about the problems of Scrum adoption, showed us some ways how the adoption can fail ("Yes, we want to do Scrum, but the customer shouldn't notice any change") and also some approaches on how customers can adopt Scrum sucessfully.

Today, customers say what they want (good). Then engineering estimates it (OK), then that estimate because the basis for cost calculation and scheduling, usually bound into a contract (inflexible = bad). He argued for the customers communicated vision, permissible cost & time, then the deveopers should convert that vision into reality -- something which excite the users as much as possible -- given the budget constraints.

So, instead of estimate the project at a 6 months and 1 Million CHF, allocate 4 months and 500'000. Build what you can. Examine the results. If it's good, release it, if it needs work, do more until your happy. The cus…

German Scrum Meeting

The German Scrum Group ("deutschescrum") is holding a get together in Munich next Friday, July 11. A full program of talks and discussions is planned, so it should be a very interesting day.

The event is being hosted by Allianz Deutschland (Dieselstr. 6, Unterföhring bei München). You can register either via Xing or via the Wiki, but registration is required to get past reception.
Event HomepageRegistration via Wiki (you can ask me for the password)Registration via XingPersonally, I'm really looking forward to this event. It looks like the perfect opportunity to meet interesting people and discuss interesting topics around Scrum.