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Showing posts from 2009

WTO Bidding Process Considered Harmful

I've long believed that the WTO bidding process for IT projects is an expensive, wasteful process. By its very nature, it forces a waterfall process, which the CHAOS and other studies (despite their shortcomings) have shown produce a consistent 60 to 70% failure rate.

Of course it is mandated by law, so everyone has no choice but to play along. But at what cost? Finally, this issue is getting some attention. Today, documented the many shortcomings of the WTO Process (here is a translation from Google):
The losers invest at least as much effort in bidding for the project as the project is worth. WTO projects are a net loss for the economy.Companies involved in preparing the RFP are not allowed to bid - all the context information is lost, so quality is lowered and the costs increase. Government agencies can and do write the RFP so that only one supplier actually has a real chance of winning the project.The process is vulnerable to price-dumping which a low price dom…

Free Scrum Resources in Switzerland

If you want to find out about Scrum, but a course or coaching is not the right solution for you, what can you do?
Come to a Scrum Breakfast in Zürich, Bern or Basel. You can hear interesting talks and meet and share experiences with other people doing Lean, Agile & Scrum. I usually announce the Zürich breakfasts on this blog and on my newsletter. All breakfasts are posted on the SwissICT event page. The event is free. (Help keep it free by joining the SwissICT!)Join the Lean, Agile, Scrum community on our ning platform -- and ask a question! The on-line community is still in the starting blocks, just needs some dialogue to get things going!If all else fails:
Post a question in German at DeutscheScrum: The German Scrum User Group.Post a question in English on ScrumDevelopment: Ken Schwaber's Scrum Users ForumAnd if you speak French:
"The Doctor is In" - Free Scrum Advice

At the next Scrum Breakfast in Zürich, I want to try out so…

Standish Chaos reports miss the point

The Standish Chaos report of 1995 is probably the most cited work on project success and failure. The latest incarnation is quoted as saying:
32% of all projects succeed
44% of all projects were challenged 24% of all projects failedwhere succeeded means 'delivered planned scope on time and on budget'. Scope, Time and Budget are the classic legs of the 'Iron Triangle' ('What about Quality?' 'We don't talk about quality, that's a given.' 'Right.') which every project leader is taught is the holy grail of a successful project. But is that really success?

I teach my Scrum students about 5 perspectives on success, depending on who you are:
As a developer: success is fun and learning. A good working climate and personal development.As a PL: satisfy the constraints of the Iron TriangleAs the line manager: business units are happy - line management gets to deal with escalations. (Or for a programming shop: the salesperson who is happy when the custo…

Making Change Happen in Your Organization

Last Monday, I spoke at the CHOOSE Choose Forum on Human-centric Software Development on how to introduce change into an organization. The talk is based on my experience introducing Scrum to large organizations and building the Lean-Agile-Scrum community in Switzerland. Here's the talk, hosted on Slideshare (where you can download the annotated PDF):
Introducing Change to Your Organization
BTW - It looks better in full screen mode

Interrupts Considered Harmful

A True Story:
Setting: a development team which is responsible for a production application. This application processes millions of dollars per day in financial transactions, so it has to run.

As the company had just put our a major release, a developer had to work late shift, just in case something happened. The release had been in production for a few weeks, so the worst problems were over.

A few nights ago, it was Joe's turn for night duty. Joe (not his real name) is a good developer who can be counted on to move one, sometimes two tickets from waiting, through in progress, to done every day.

There were no production problems that night, so Joe could work on his development tasks. How many tickets did Joe finish that night?

Joe was between 2 1/2 and 5 times as productive working at night. Why? Because no one interrupted him.

At the Choose Forum on Human-centric Software Development, Prof. Andrew Ko reported his experience studying software developers at Microsoft: On th…

Italian Agile Day: Fixed Price Projects

Yesterday it was my privilege and honor to give the keynote speech at the 6th Italian Agile Day. 400 Agilists gathered at the Savoia in Bologna to share their experiences. And there were even curious skeptics from company management, who wanted to find out about about Agile and whether it could help their problems. Lots of energy.

I also found some surprising obstacles. I was very surprised about the class warfare tones I heard in the discussions. Much of Italy's best talent goes looking for work in London or Munich where their work is more appreciated: the pay is substantially higher than in Italy. One of the cornerstones of Agile is the idea of building trust, e.g. between the developers who build the product and the managers who request it. I wonder how well this culture will do in an atmosphere of contention over pay, benefits and respect.

My favorite quote from the Coaching Workshop: "My name is Luca and I am a Waterfall-aholic". "Hello Luka" everyone rep…

Risks and Side Effects of Scrum

Yesterday evening, Alain Guilieri, Ralph Jocham & I had the privilege of speaking at the SwissICT Event 'Risks and Side Effects of Lean, Agile & Scrum.'

I talked about the challenges of changing an organization. Ralph focused on what can go wrong, in particular the important difference between an Certified ScrumMaster a Certified Scrum Practitioner (the latter in a meaningful certification) and the importance of top engineering practices. And Alain provided the Voice of the Customer: A department head in a Financial Institution who introduced Scrum two years ago and reported on his challenges, solutions and successes.

Some 60 people attended and many asked for the presentations. You can download them all here, Presentations from 'Risiken und Nebenwirkungen von Lean Agile und Scrum'.

Scrum Breakfast in Zürich: Breaking Through Corporate Gridlock

Everyone who works in a large organization knows that such organizations can become inflexible and unresponsive. Rules and regulations dominate, office politics are more important than common sense in making decisions, and sacred cows are not to be touched.

How do we break through this problem? In December, the Scrum Breakfast will address this challenge with the most interactive Scrum Breakfast ever. Structured as an Open Space, led by internationally known coach Deborah Hartmann Preuss, and driven by the questions and expertise of you, the participants, this event promises be a unique effective investigation into the challenge of making change happen where you work.

We particularly want to invite to Mid-Level Managers, Scrum Masters and anyone else who is trying to make their organizations more flexible and responsive.

When: December 2, 2009
Where: SwissICT, Vulkanstrasse 120 8048 Zürich
Registration: SwissICT

Time: Doors open at 8am for coffee and registration, we start at 8.35. As…

I want it all! I want it now!

If only Santa Clause would deliver software. Life would be so much easier. Unfortunately he doesn't, and delivering working software which meets business needs is still a difficult challenge. According to a just published survey by OOSE, nearly 60% of all "classic" projects and even 1/3 of all agile projects do not succeed. How do you make sure, your project is not one of them?

Today I am giving a talk and the SAQ Software Tester Forum, From Wish List to Running System: How to Get What You Want. You can't get everything you want, but you can get what you really need. Here are the slides to my talk.

Experience with Lean Software Development

Scrum Breakfast in November

The Challenge: Raise your release tempo from 2 to 4 releases per year, with out changing the quantity of functionality. The applications remain complex. Modifications and renovations must still be possible. This was the challenge faced by Swisscom Wholesale AG. The Solution: Introduce Lean Software Development.

What consequences did this decision have on the existing organization and their productivity? Which agile approaches were selected? Roland Grieder, former Department Manager for Software Development at Swisscom Wholesale will answer these and other questions.

The talk is in German.

There is still space available: Info, Registration
When: 04. November 2009
Where: SwissICT, Vulkanstrasse 120 in Zürich-Altstetten

P.S. I will be giving a talk on 'Getting What You Want: From Mandate to Acceptance' on the same day at the SAQ Agile Testing Day. Fredi Schmidli will moderate Wednesday's Scrum Breakfast.

Managers, Impediments, Responsibility. Oh my!

Here's the situation: a department with 5 development teams, several of which are starting to do Scrum. The Scrum Masters have a problem. They couldn't fix impediments. Not being part of management, they weren't taken seriously by the rest of the organization. Escalating every second impediment to management wasn't working either. When impediments don't get fixed, Scrum doesn't work and everybody gets demotivated. Here's a shot at solving the problem...

One: Identify an Escalation Team (ET) who will be responsible for handling issues when the ScrumMasters get stuck. This consists of the Department Manager and his immediate reports. One of the ScrumMasters is also ScrumMaster for this group.

Two, following Karl Scotland's description of Kanban, embark on a four step process:
Map the value stream
Visualize the process with a Kanban boardLimit WIP to achieve focus and flowEstablish Cadence
The value stream for impediments is pretty simple:
Step 1 ScrumMaster att…

Training / Improvements for 2010

At the Scrum Gathering, Andreas Schliep, Peter Beck and I joined together to form Das Scrum Team. Our goal is to provide the best Scrum training in Central Europe. We're still working on the details, so watch this space. Next year, I will make a number of changes to my program:
Public Jumpstart and PPO Courses will be upgraded to certification course (CSM / CSPO). I will be offering co-training with my Partners in Das Scrum Team. Andy, Peter & I will continue to offer a CSM for Advanced UsersDue to the strong interest in Scrum in Bern, public courses will alternate between Zürich and Bern.Effective December 1, courses will start at 9.00 and continue to 17.00 (a shift of 1/2 hour) so that people traveling to the venue from afar can travel on the same day. I will offer a Scrum Jumpstart (non-CSM) in Geneva, in French. The first course will take place on January 14 & 15.  I haven't updated the web yet, but will be posting the schedule for 2010 and other changes shortly.

Scrum Gathering and Scrum Breakfast Presentations

I am terribly behind publishing presentations and announcements on the blog, so here are various presentations that I have promised to publish:

From the Scrum Gathering in Munich:
Making Change Happen - How to get the ball rolling in your company or community10 Contracts for Your Next Agile Project - some thoughts about various contract forms and how they impact the execution of the project.Jean Pierre König presented a fascinating concept at the last Scrum Breakfast in Zürich: Developing an application in just 3 days. The ultimate Agile project. His slides are also online.

Italian Agile Day (and Scrum Workshop) in Bologna

The Italian Agile Day 2009 is the sixth edition of the free conference dedicated to Agile methods for development and management of software projects like eXtreme Programming, Scrum, Feature Driven Development, DSDM, Crystal and Lean Software Development.

I am honored and pleased to support their efforts as a Key Note speaker. My talk will be about Fixed Price Projects and Agile - It can be done!
What: Italian Agile Day
Organizers: Italian Agile Movement
Where: Bologna
When: November 20, 2009

Registration (more in English than Italian):
I believe in supporting the community, so I try to speak at communityevents (like this or the Agile Tour in Luxembourg) when asked, andgenerally without charge. This is a free event, so they are asking for donations to offset the costs of the event. Please contribute!

Just before the Agile Day, Alberto Brandolini and I are organizing a one day Scrum Workshop to help people discover Scrum:
Scrum today is becoming the leading agile ma…

The Scrum Team

At the Scrum Gathering, Andy Schliep and Peter Beck and I decided to collaborate to form Das Scrum Team, a group of Scrum Trainers and Coaches (and Scrum community leaders) dedicated to providing first class training and coaching in Central Europe.

At the moment, all you can see is the web page, but more will be coming soon....

Scrum Gathering: The Doctor is IN

The Scrum Gathering in Munich is now behind us. So much interesting information, so many interesting people, so many things to do, so many ideas which I'd like to deploy tomorrow, and so little time for it all. My personal highs and lows:

The dialog room. It took a while for it to get in the swing of things, but interaction is what Agile is all about. Deborah Preuss and Tobias Mayer brought games, poetry and Open Space (back) to the Gathering. My personal favorite was "The Doctor is In" a booth for free private consulting between conference participants. I'd like to start doing that at the Scrum Breakfast.
Networking with everybody imaginable.
Boris Gloger's Scrum Brazilian Cooking Stand - real coffee, fresh pressed juices, hostesses, and more. It felt almost like the Geneva Auto Show (and what was that Hummer doing parked out front?).
Scrum Alliance Confronts its Own Dysfunction - more transparency coming from the board, but its command and control mindset is …

Saving Great Companies from Paralysis

Gary Hamel of the WSJ recently asked, "What really kills great companies?" He observed that established, successful companies become encrusted and unresponsive. During this time they either make insubstantial changes or realize that they are dying of sclerosis and go for the quadruple bypass surgery of dramatic change. So if inertia is a corporate form of sclerosis, what is the cause and what is the cure?

Looking at a large company - a large company is any company where common sense does not universally apply, a situation which probably starts at around 4 to 5 levels of management - we see that top management can become quite isolated from the base. Noise, propagation delay and information loss distort initiatives coming down from the top, so these are only partially or incorrectly implemented. The chain of command filters information coming up from the base. Problems that are obvious at the base don't get the required attention from the top. Communication and feedback br…

Formation Scrum en français

The success of the Agile Tour proves it, Scrum and Agile Project Management are becoming a hot topic in France and French speaking Europe. My popular Scrum Jumpstart course is now available in French. I will offer the course publicly in for the first time in French in Geneva in January.

Check my training website for full details or jump directly to to register.

And of course, I can also do in-house Scrum trainings in French too.

Scrum is Awesome! Agile is Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

Last spring, I coached a company that wanted to get started with Scrum. I had trained a team on Scrum and accompanied them through the first few sprints. The team itself was very keen on implementing XP engineering practices, something which management did not support. My mandate ended before the project did, and so the question is, how did they do?

A big conflict between the developers and the project leader (who officially wore the ScrumMaster title, but who also had a fixed price project to deliver on time and budget) was how much effort to invest in automated testing. The customer was the P-O, so he thought quality was a great idea. The project leader wasn't so sure, he saw testing as an impediment to velocity. The team insisted, and as my mandate ended, they still had conflict on this subject.

Yesterday, I caught up with one of the developers. "How did it go?" I asked. "Scrum is awesome! Awesome! Just Awesome" he replied, repeating himself several times. (…

Becoming a Certified Scrum Practioner

Someone recently asked me what does it take to become a CSP. So I looked up the CSP requirements on the Scrum Alliance web page, to double check the requirements.

The CSP is the first rating in the Scrum Alliance structure that actually means something. A CSM has attended a class from a Certified Scrum Trainer (and starting October 1, will have passed a multiple choice test on Scrum). So a CSM is a trained apprentice.

A CSP is someone who actually has experience with Scrum. To become a CSP, you must provide evidence of at least one year of Scrum practice and be a member in good standing of the Scrum Alliance as a CSM or CSPO. The latter requirement means you must have taken a CSM or CSPO course from a Certified Scrum Trainer. You must have been doing Scrum for at least a year. You no longer have to wait 12 months after taking the CSM course - which is a sensible change. If you're the type who will read a book and then do Scrum, you probably have the right stuff to become a Practi…

Scrum Breakfast in Zürich: An application in 3 days?

Develop an application from start to finish in just three days? No way! ... Is there? Together with Adhoco, a start up in Home-Automation-Systems, Jean-Pierre König and a team of 6 took on the challenge of creating an application from start start to finish in just 3 days. And this included interviewing the man on the street in the Zürich train station!

Johnny will explain how Rapid Development works, how the team and the customer set out to develop this application is such a short time. What can you accomplish? What not? How do you put together a working application in three days?

JPK is a software engineer and agile evangelist at namics, as well as the author of inside-scrum, perhaps the leading German language Scrum blog.

The details:
When: October 7, 8.00 to 11.00 AM*Where: SwissICT, Vulkanstrasse 120, 8048 Zürich(New Location!!)
Registration: Online
Coffee and Registration  8.00-8.35, presentation and discussion 8.35-9.50. More Coffee and networking until 10.50.

Pubic Transportatio…

Certified Scrum Product Owner in December

The Practical Product Owner course for December 10 & 11 has been "upgraded" to a Certified Scrum Product Owner course. What's the difference (besides the piece of paper you get at the end of the course?)

I will be co-training with Peter Beck, a German certified Scrum trainer who is based in Vienna. What I really like about co-trainings is the two points of view: Two trainers with two perspectives who some times agree and sometimes argue but in any case illuminate the problem from all sides. Who benefits? You - you profit from the experience of two trainers.

You can now register for all public courses between now and the end of the year online.

Ken Schwaber Steps Down as Chairman of the Scrum Alliance

Certification testing for CSM starting in October after all-

There have been a few guarded comments on twitter for a day or two, but now I found an article on Xing: Ken Schwaber has stepped down as President and Chairman of the Board of the Scrum Alliance, effective Tuesday, September 15, 2009. CEO Jim Cundiff also stepped down effective Tuesday. Tom Mellor will take over Ken's role until the end of his term.

Furthermore, the Alliance has reconsidered its position on the CSM test. Apparently the test will be introduced on October 1 after all.

As I write this, the Scrum alliance news page is empty nor has there been no discussion on the scrumdevelopment newsgroup, so it's hard to say if this is the full story, or if other developments are still pending.

Personally, I think Ken Schwaber, Scrum, and the CSM program have been instrumental in the widespread acceptance of agile practices and values beyond the circle of XP-early adopters. I hope the Alliance gets over its turbulent ti…

What's your frozen coke bottle?

A recurring problem of Agile projects is management commitment. Today I gave a talk on getting the change process started. Based on a combination of my own experiences and the patterns documented in Rising and Mann's Fearless Change, I talked about how to get an idea launched and gain initial acceptance to move forward. But even after a successful start, getting and keeping management on board has always been a difficult problem.

A frozen coke bottle can be a powerful symbol of the need for change.
Photo (c) Jonathan Lansey, used with kind permission.
Today I encountered another book about making change happen: Our Iceberg is Melting, by John Kotter. (And thanks to Remo Schmid for lending me the book!) John tells a fable about a young penguin named Fred. Fred is a bit of a loner, but lives with his herd on an iceberg on the coast of Antarctica. Through careful observation, Fred a) notices that the iceberg is melting, and b) because of the way that it is melting, he becomes convinced …

Scrum Books to Win Friends and Influence people

One way to help make Scrum and Agile less frightening to non-agilists in the company is to simply make information available. An easy, non-threatening way to do this is to set up a library and put it in an obvious place. What books to put in the library? Here's a list I recently gave to a customer:
Agile Project Management with Scrum Ken Schwaber. Start here.
The Art of Agile Development Jim Shore. OK, if you're a developer, you might prefer to start here.
Scrum and XP from the Trenches Henrik Kniberg. This is what it's really about.
Agile Estimating and Planning von Mike Cohn. Proof that estimating & planning are not black magic.
User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development Mike Cohn. After Ken's book & Mike's books I felt I was ready to conceive, plan and deliver software projects effectively.
Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit for Software Development Managers Mary Poppendieck. A bridge for managers between their MBA studies and real agility.

CSM Test Postponed (again)

I couldn't find anything on the Scrum Alliance News Page, but Boris Gloger posted on twitter that the Scrum Alliance has postponed the introduction of the CSM knowledge test. It seems the Alliance wanted to await localized versions before making the test mandatory.

The certification which really shows demonstrated ability is not the CSM, but the peer-reviewed Certified Scrum Practitioner (journeyman level) and Certified Scrum Coach (mastery level). As I write this there are some 800 or 900 CSPs and only 20 or so CSCs.

If you're looking to show your mastery of Scrum, qualify for one of the higher ratings. And strangely enough, there is no required training beyond the CSM course for either of the certifications. It's about doing, not about sitting in courses...


Peter Rey gave an interesting talk about the challenges of doing Scrum in a environment with significant legal conformance requirements. His notes are an example why anyone giving talks should take the time to read Beyond Bullet Points or Presentation Zen.

You can download his talk Scrum in a MedTech Environment.

'The customer is threatening me with a order'. Well, at namics, the customer made good on his threats and namics Zürich had to convert their big meeting room into office space, leaving no space for the Scrum Breakfast in Zürich.

I would like to say thank you to Jurg Stuker, Thomas König and most especially Peggy Kessler for making 19 Scrum Breakfasts an great event with the perfect location, coffee, gipfeli, fruits and fresh baked goodies.

The next three Scrum Breakfasts (until December) will be held at the SwissICT offices in Altstetten.

Full RSS Feed

Some time ago, I changed the RSS feed from full articles to titles only. I was thinking there would be some evidence of who was actually reading my articles in the web stats. In all honesty, I couldn't tell the difference, so, after receiving several requests, I have switched it back to full content.

Happy Reading,


Gimme back my waterfall!

I caught up with a friend, developer and fellow Agile Evangelist over coffee a few days ago. As it happened, he is currently obliged to work on a waterfall project -- working for a service company, you don't always get to choose. So I asked him, what's it like to go back to the waterfall?

His answer: "Right now, I'm having a great time. I don't have to explain myself to my colleagues every day. If want to read a book or blog, or experiment with a couple different approaches to solve a problem, I can! And I don't have to feel guilty at the next Daily Scrum. And if a specification is incomplete or contradictory, all I have to do is tell the Project Leader and I have peace and quiet for a few days while he clears things up with the customer. And of course, if I tell the Project Leader that task X will take 5 days, I have no one bothering me before the time is up. I am much less responsible for the solution. Of course, I do my job conscientiously, but where my re…

Feel free to change Scrum!

One standard bit of advice from Scrum Trainers and Coaches is "Don't change Scrum!" They give this advice because,
There is a natural tendency when adopting something new to want to change it, i.e. to make it "yours."
Scrum is designed to detect problems, including deep seated problems, quickly and mercilessly.
Scrum pushes people and organizations out of their comfort zone. Rather than face the problems, it is often easier to try to change Scrum than to confront the problems Scrum has detected.Combine these factors, and you can quickly defeat the purpose of Scrum, which is to identify and eliminate impedments to success (in Lean, this is referred to as "Waste") as quickly as possible.

So when Silvan Mühlemann, CTO of, proposed a talk for the Scrum Breakfast "Adapt Scrum to your needs!" I thought "Oh my! can I allow this sacrilege to occur on my watch?" So I got him to put a question mark in the title, closed my eyes, and …

Scrum Breakfast in Bern: Introducing Change

Today it was my honor to kick off the Scrum Breakfast in Bern.

A new start seemed like a good moment to talk about how to introduce change into an organization. So I talked about the roles from Crossing the Chasm and the Patterns from Fearless change.

For me, the high point was the feedback from Tudor Girba, who described how he selected the location for and equipped his office during a summer job:
I was given the choice of an isolated, out-of-the-way office or a desk in the entrance foyer. So of course I chose the entrance foyer.

I always kept a big bag of peanuts in the shell and a supply of cold Coca-Cola at hand. People would come by and munch on the peanuts. And of course, it took time to shell them. So while they were shelling, the had to do something, and they talked to me. In two weeks I knew everything about that organisation! Congratuations to Ralph Jochim and Joscha Jenni for organizing the event. 22 participants from around Bern got together for interesting discussions an…

Scrum Certification Exam required after Oct. 1

I just got this from my CST mentor and co-trainer Andreas Schliep:
Currently, an individual is certified when he or she has attended, participated in, and completed a Certified ScrumMaster course.

Effective 1 October 2009, all CSMs will be required to complete a Certified ScrumMaster course and pass a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) online certification exam [in English, ed.] to maintain certification.  Click here for the Exam Objectives or Click here for the Exam Administration and Retake Policy. They seem to really mean it this time.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the exam. On the one hand, being required to demonstrate some basic understanding of Scrum before getting the certification seems like a good thing.

One the other hand, the value of the Scrum course lies in its experiential nature. Yes, you learn facts and theory, but you spend a lot of time "in motion": doing games, simulations, exercises, working out problems with your teammates.

I think there is a very …

Scrum Breakfast in Bern and Basel

Thanks to the effort and motivation of Mark Hediger, Joscha Jenni und Ralph Jocham and the support of their respective companies (Actionize, Mimacom and Zühlke), there are monthly meetups for the Scrum Communities in Bern and Basel. It is my honor to kick off the events with a talk, appropriately about getting started with Scrum.

Change Process: How do I bring Scrum (or any other idea) into my company? By Peter Stevens

As a developer, tester, project manager or manager, you are intrigued by Scrum. But you are having difficulties gaining support for your ideas. You would like to convince your management and colleagues, that you company or department should use Scrum, or at least should give it a try. How can you motivate or even mobilize your colleagues, so that the support your ideas?

Based on experiences in my own projects, we will discuss a number of possible approaches, which are helpful in bringing about change. An Introduction in Change-Processes and how to guide them effectively.


Scrum Breakfast in Zürich, 2. Sept 09: Scrum in a Med Tech Environment

Scrum in a Med Tech Environment, by Peter Rey

A common prejudice about agile software development is that agility is incompatible with demanding or highly regulated environments. bbv recently used Scrum to complete a project in which compliance with US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulatory requirements was mandatory. In this talk for project managers, developers, and ScrumMasters, Peter Rey, Lead Software Designer and Scrum Master at bbv will present his experiences from the trenches. What challenges did they face in this strict regulatory environment and how did they solve the problems as a Scrum Team? In particular, he will look at:
Prerequisites for the projectMapping Requirements to the Product BacklogToolsGenerating Documents for Regulatory Compliance The talk will be held in English.

Peter Rey started his education with an apprenticeship as a toolmaker, then a degree in mechanical engineering (Dipl. Masch. Ing. HTL), 3 years working experience at a Boeing vendor in the U.…

Impressions - Lean Agile Scrum Conference in Zürich

It really happened! 140 people from the USA, Europe and mostly from Switzerland got together to learn and share information about all facets of lean and agile. When I started talking about Scrum in the fall of 2006, I was pretty alone.

Low Points
Confusion about the starting time - We planned a block of 2 hours for the Scrum Breakfast, starting at 8. The talk was planned to begin at 8.35  But the block "Registration and Coffee" didn't make it on to the program the way it should have. Mea Culpa!
Speaker changes - we had a couple of last minute changes in the program - "excitement" for the organizers, potential disappointment for the participants. But people stepped up to fill the gap with great, well recieved presentations.
Delay on one of the tracks caused timing problems.
High Points:
Ken Schwaber - I had the priveledge of attending and co-teaching at Ken's CSM Course. Very different from every other Scrum Course I have attended. The emphasis on ethics, hone…

Scrum Breakfast in Zürich, July 1, 2009, Adapt Scrum to your needs?

It's 10 o'clock, do you know where your children are?

If there's anyone who can answer that question, it's Silvan Mühlemann, co-founder and Head of IT at tilllate, the leading European site dedicated to the subject of Night Life.

Silvan had been interested in Scrum for a long time. He wanted his development group to be more productive and predictable (hitting deadlines) and he wanted to improve the level of trust between management and development. Scrum looked promising, but he wasn't convinced that Scrum by the book would fit in his company. Is it possible to adapt Scrum without losing the advantages of Scrum?

You can expect an interesting discussion on 
whether Scrum can be modified without being compromized
how easy/difficult it was to deploy Scrum
the effects of Scrum on Team and Management satisfaction Date: July 1, 2009

Location, namics zürich, konradstrasse 12, 8005 zurich
Doors open at 8.00, talk starts promptly at 8.35

As usual, namics sponsors the Coffee an…

Follow the Zurich Lean Agile Scrum Conference on Twitter

Next week, Zurich's first Lean Agile Scrum Conference will take place at the ETH.

We'll be tweeting about the event live at

If you haven't registered yet, it's not too late. Presently we have over 80 registrations for the main event and 112 registrations for Ken Schwabers Scrum Breakfast Talk 'Done and Not Done.'  That's roughly 10 times the number of participants at the original Scrum Breakfast in October 2007. It should be a great day!

for the conference just for the breakfast
And even if you can't come, you can follow the event on twitter!

Can Scrum play a key role in fixed price projects achieving their target?

This question came up on the Scrum Development List yesterday. Here's my take on it:

> Can Scrum play a key role in fixed price projects achieving their target?

Absolutely! In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think Scrum is the best way to take on a fixed price project.

The process starts in pre-sales so that you set the expectations with the customer and leave yourself some maneuvering room to even out the risks of various pieces of the project. Some things will go quicker, others slower. You need to make sure that even if some things turn against you, the project as a whole stays within bounds.

Ron Jeffries will probably point out at this point that you need to add good engineering to your sound management practices. An he will be right. So you need good engineers working on your project. If they've been working together for a while, been working on a similar project, or been working with Scrum before, you improve the odds in your favor. If they were involve…

Towards Agile Support

2 years ago, Anton Schultschick, Leader of IT Support for the EE Department of the ETH Zürich attended my /ch/open workshop on Scrum and got curious about Scrum. 6 months ago, he attended my Scrum Jumpstart with the goal of solving a problem: "My support group has to deal with daily business and we have to successfully complete medium term projects. But the needs of daily business are consuming all our time. We keep the IT running, but we have difficulties with projects. How do we reconcile the two?"

The answer wasn't strictly speaking Scrum. Daily business problems require shorter reaction times  than multi-week sprints would allow. But he did bring home many tools which he could apply to the problem. Today he gaves us a look into what he and his team did:
Big Visible Task Board(s) galore - for project backlog and the individual projects
Weekly iterations for projects Demos instead of reportsRetrospectivesIntroducing the Product Owner concept into the daily work. Someone …

3 Player Ball Point Game

The Ball Point Game (or Tennis Ball Factory, as I like to call it) is one of the most popular games for learning Scrum. This game encapsulates the essence of Scrum like no other: Team-Work, Planning, Retrospectives, Estimating. Continuous Improvement. Everything. But as defined by Boris Gloger, you need 5 people to play. Teaching to a small class, I needed a version which would work with three people. I almost gave up, until I realized that most people have two hands.

The rules of the ball point game are simple: To score a point, everyone in the group must touch the ball once. The ball must have "air time" when the ball is not touching any player. No one may pass the ball to their immediate neighbor. The objective is to score as many points as possible in 2 minutes. The team gets several attempts to improve their score, with a retrospective between each attempt.

If the team is 4 people or less, these rules don't work. The immediate neighbor rule can't be satisfied w…

Lean Agile Scrum Conference in Zürich - June 4, 2009

After saying, 'mark you calendars, mark your calendars' for what seems like an eternity, we now have pleasure of announcing the first Lean Agile Scrum Conference in Zürich.

Lean, Agile and Scrum: 3 words which have been the subject of much hype of late. As storm clouds gather on the horizon, companies look for strategies to meet the challenge. Lean, Agile and Scrum hold the promise of creating better products, lower costs, quicker reactions to customer needs, and better predictability in software development. Or are they just this years hype? And if these strategies do offer real value, how do you adopt them into your company? What are the risks and side effects? Who has gone down this path before and what were their experiences, positive and negative?

Under the motto of "Beyond Hype: Agile in der Praxis" Zürichs first Lean Agile Scrum conference seeks to answer these questions.

Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum will speak about the state of Scrum and lead an adv…

What does it mean to be an agile company?

Agile: Having the faculty of quick motion in the limbs; apt or ready to move; nimble; active; as, an agile boy; an agile tongue Agile has become fashionable. Everything from Scrum to Network Attached Storage is going to help your company become more agile. At least if you believe what the advertising hype tells you.  So agility has become something companies want. OK. But how many of them have thought through what that really means?

While discussing the product backlog with a student at my Scrum class (an employee of a well known national institution), we discovered an interesting confict:
Student: How do you know when a release will be ready?Me: Take the product backlog, which is sorted by priority. Combine feature sizes with estimated velocity per sprint, to group features into sprints. That, the sprint length and a calendar give you the estimated completion date for each feature.Student: But the Product Owner can change his mind? Those features are not committed…

Want A Scrum Course Near You?

The wave of people coming from Bern for yesterday's Scrum Jumpstart course in Zürich, got me to thinking. Maybe there is a need for Scrum Training in other locations in Switzerland.

I have set up a doodle poll:  I would like a Scrum Course nearby in Switzerland. If you want a Scrum Course nearby, vote for the nearest city! If I get 6 votes for any city, I will plan a Scrum Jumpstart course there in the fall. The course will be held in German, French or Italian, according to the region. Date will set by doodle among the participants.

Important: Please use your Email-Address as your "name" so I can contact you to set up the course. Otherwise, your vote doesn't count. Your address is not visible to anyone else and will only be used for the intended purpose. You need to vote by May 1.

This is a bit of an experiment - if it works, it will be a way for to get a (probably small) Scrum course close by -- no travel expenses, etc -- and meet other people doing Scrum close to y…

Certified Scrum Product Owner Training in Zürich

I am pleased to announce that Andreas Schliep and I are collaborating on a Certified Scrum Product Owner Training, which will be offered for the first time in June 25 & 26 in Zürich. This is the only CSPO Course presently scheduled in Switzerland. As always, the course will be held in German.

If you are a Product Owner, Scrum Master, Program Manager, Software Development Customer or Sales Consultant who needs to reliably estimate, schedule, price and manage a software development project using agile methods, this course is for you: A two day immersion into creating great products, agile planning and estimating, managing the agile team and leading the project to success.

BTW - If you don't need certification, the Pragmatic Product Owner (PPO) course is essentially the same, except I teach it alone and it costs less.

Follow the links for:
CSPO Course Description in German (or in EnglishPractical Product Owner Course Description in German (or in English)
Scrum Course Registration

Methods and Tools: How to Write an Agile Request for Proposal

Customers of software development services who want to outsource a software development project face a problem: Traditional methods of selecting a software developer are expensive, time consuming and optimize the wrong criteria. They set the stage for delays, cost overruns, and building software with poor or no return on investment.

Agile methods, including Scrum and XP, have proven successful at creating great solutions that meet the expectations of their sponsors and users. Many organizations would like to apply agile approaches, but the traditional tools for selecting a vendor don’t mix well with agile development.

By conceiving the project from the beginning as an agile project, you can outsource projects effectively and agilely.

Last week, the Spring issue of Methods and Tools was published, including my paper: Finding a Partner to Trust: The Agile RFP. This paper:
Describes how one team used Scrum to create an agile RFPDiscusses what information should be present in an agile RF…

Scrum Jumpstart Course in Bern, May 7 & 8

Have you ever wished for a Scrum course closer to home? I realized that almost all of the participants in this week's Scrum Jumpstart course are from Bern. This got me thinking, "Gee, maybe Zürich is not the only place where people want a Scrum Course!"

Step 1: Let's hold a course in Bern. Step 2: Where else should I hold a course?

Scrum Jumpstart in Bern

Next month, I have scheduled the highly recommended Scrum Jumpstart Course in Bern. May 7 & 8 at Digicomp at the Bern Main Train Station. This replaces the CSM course which was planned in Zürich for May 3 & 4, but had which to be cancelled due to a scheduling conflict. If you want a Certified Scrum Master Course, Ken Schwaber's CSM course in June is a unique opportunity.

Follow the links for:
Scrum Jumpstart Course Description in German (or in EnglishKen Schwabers Certified Scrum Master Course Description
Scrum Course Registration in German or in EnglishCourse RecommendationsTomorrow, I'll post a dood…

Scrum Breakfast in Geneva

I am proud to announce the birth of a cousin: the Scrum Breakfast Geneva, initiated by François Bachman. Like it's role model in Zürich, the Scrum Breakfast in Geneva is both an event and blog, focused on Scrum and the Scrum Community.

The next event in Geneva will be held April 9, where Julien Piaser of SkyGuide will present SCRINCH, an open source Scrum Project Management Tool. For infos and registration, please check out the Scrum Breakfast in Geneva at

Good luck François, to you, and to the Scrum Community in Geneva.

Scrum Breakfast April / May (Scrum in Operations)

Today we once again had a full house and interesting discussion around Scrum, in the case about getting what you want: from the Mandate to the acceptence tests. Actually it was a well cameflaged introduction to test driven design. The presentation is now available online.

Next month, I have a very special pleasure to announce that Anton Schutschick will be coming to the Scrum Breakfast in Zürich. Anton is Manager of IT Support for the Department of Electrical Engineering at the ETH Zurich. Now IT support is not something you think about when you think about Scrum. You job is to the operation going. And oh yes, you are expected to make progress on medium term projects for your clientele.

Anton took a Jumpstart course last fall with that question in mind. The very next day, he started applying the principles and practices of Scrum right away. I visited his team room a few weeks later and found it covered with Taskboards!

In May, Anton will come to discuss his experiences and how his team …