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Eldar Kuzmin
Eldar Kuzmin

The Benefits and Challenges of Agile Software Development with Scrum


Agile Software Development with Scrum: A Comprehensive Guide




Agile software development is a modern approach to creating software products that can adapt to changing requirements and customer needs. Scrum is one of the most popular frameworks for implementing agile software development in a simple yet effective way.




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In this article, we will explore what agile software development and scrum are, how they originated, what are their principles and practices, and how they can help you deliver value faster and better. We will also review two important sources of knowledge on scrum: The Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, which defines the rules of the game, and Agile Software Development with Scrum by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle, which illustrates the theory and practice of scrum through real-world case studies and examples.


By the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive understanding of agile software development and scrum, and how you can apply them to your own projects. You will also find some resources and references for further learning and improvement.


The Origins and Principles of Agile Software Development




Agile software development emerged as a response to the limitations and challenges of traditional waterfall methods, which were based on a linear, sequential, and rigid process of planning, designing, building, testing, and delivering software products. Waterfall methods assumed that requirements were fixed and predictable, and that changes were costly and undesirable. However, in reality, software development is often complex, uncertain, and dynamic, requiring frequent feedback, collaboration, and adaptation to changing customer needs and market conditions.


In 2001, a group of 17 software practitioners met in Utah to discuss their experiences and ideas on how to develop software in a better way. They came up with the Agile Manifesto, which stated four core values:



  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools



  • Working software over comprehensive documentation



  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation



  • Responding to change over following a plan



The Agile Manifesto also defined 12 principles that guided the agile approach to software development. Some of these principles are:



  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.



  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.



  • Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.



  • Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.



  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.



  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.



  • Working software is the primary measure of progress.



  • Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.



  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.



  • Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.



  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.



  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.



The Agile Manifesto sparked a movement that led to the creation and adoption of various agile methods and frameworks, such as Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), Kanban, Lean Software Development, Crystal, Feature-Driven Development (FDD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Adaptive Software Development (ASD), and others. Each of these methods and frameworks has its own practices, techniques, tools, and terminology, but they all share the same agile values and principles.


The Origins and Principles of Scrum




Scrum is one of the most widely used frameworks for implementing agile software development. It was developed by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in the early 1990s, based on their experience in managing complex software projects. They drew inspiration from empirical process control theory, which states that complex systems can only be controlled by frequent inspection and adaptation of the process and the product. They also borrowed concepts from lean manufacturing, which focuses on eliminating waste, maximizing value, and optimizing flow.


Scrum is defined as "a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems". It consists of three roles, five events, three artifacts, and a set of rules that bind them together. Scrum is designed to be simple yet effective, providing just enough structure to enable teams to deliver value in an iterative and incremental way, while allowing them to inspect and adapt their work and their process continuously.


The Scrum Team




The Scrum Team is the core unit of Scrum. It consists of three roles: the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Developers. The Scrum Team is responsible for delivering a potentially releasable Increment of value at the end of each Sprint, which is a fixed-length iteration of one month or less.



  • The Product Owner is the person who is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team.



  • The Scrum Master is the person who is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. They do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory and practice, both within the Scrum Team and the organization.



  • The Developers are the people who are accountable for creating a "Done" Increment that meets the Sprint Goal. They are cross-functional, meaning they have all the skills necessary to create a valuable product.



The Scrum Team is self-managing, meaning they internally decide who does what, when, and how. They are also collaborative, meaning they work together as one unit to achieve a common goal.


The Scrum Events




The Scrum Events are time-boxed meetings that enable the Scrum Team to inspect and adapt their work and their process. They provide structure and rhythm for the team and create regular opportunities for feedback and improvement. The Scrum Events are:



  • The Sprint is the container for all other events. It is a fixed-length iteration of one month or less, during which the Scrum Team creates a potentially releasable Increment of value that meets the Definition of Done.



  • Sprint Planning is the event that initiates the Sprint. It is a maximum of eight hours for a one-month Sprint, and shorter for shorter Sprints. During Sprint Planning, the Scrum Team collaborates to define the Sprint Goal and plan the work to be done in the Sprint.



  • Daily Scrum is the event that occurs every day during the Sprint. It is a maximum of 15 minutes, regardless of the Sprint length. During Daily Scrum, the Developers inspect their progress towards the Sprint Goal and plan their work for the next 24 hours.



  • Sprint Review is the event that occurs at the end of the Sprint. It is a maximum of four hours for a one-month Sprint, and shorter for shorter Sprints. During Sprint Review, the Scrum Team and the stakeholders inspect the Increment and discuss what was done in the Sprint, what went well, what problems were encountered, and how they were solved.



  • Sprint Retrospective is the event that occurs after the Sprint Review and before the next Sprint Planning. It is a maximum of three hours for a one-month Sprint, and shorter for shorter Sprints. During Sprint Retrospective, the Scrum Team inspects how they worked together in the Sprint and identify what went well and what can be improved. They create a plan for implementing improvements in the next Sprint.



The Scrum Events are intentionally designed to enable transparency, inspection, and adaptation. They also create a cadence and a rhythm for the Scrum Team and the stakeholders, creating predictability and alignment.


The Scrum Artifacts




The Scrum Artifacts are tangible outputs that represent the work and the outcome of the Scrum Team. They provide information that is essential for understanding the product and the process. The Scrum Artifacts are:



  • The Product Backlog is an ordered list of everything that is known to be needed in the product. It is the single source of truth for the Product Owner and the Scrum Team. The Product Backlog is dynamic and emergent, meaning it changes as the product and the environment evolve.



  • The Sprint Backlog is a subset of the Product Backlog that contains the work that the Developers plan to do in the current Sprint. It also includes a plan for how to create the Increment and achieve the Sprint Goal. The Sprint Backlog is owned and managed by the Developers.



  • The Increment is the sum of all the Product Backlog items completed in a Sprint and all previous Sprints. It is a concrete step towards achieving the product vision. The Increment must be usable and meet the Definition of Done, which is a shared understanding of what it means for work to be complete.



The Scrum Artifacts are intentionally designed to maximize transparency of key information. They also enable empiricism by providing opportunities for inspection and adaptation of the product and the process.


The Scrum Rules




The Scrum Rules are the glue that holds together the roles, events, artifacts, and goals of Scrum. They define the relationships and interactions between them and ensure consistency and quality. The Scrum Rules are derived from empirical process control theory, which states that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is observed.


Some examples of Scrum Rules are:



  • No one can change the Sprint Goal or add work to the Sprint Backlog once it is finalized during Sprint Planning.



  • Only members of the Development Team can estimate Product Backlog items.



  • Only members of the Development Team can create or update items in the Sprint Backlog.



  • The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog.



  • The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner, the Developers, and the organization in several ways.



  • The Developers must have a Daily Scrum meeting every day of the Sprint.



  • The Sprint Review must include a demonstration of the Increment.



  • The Sprint Retrospective must result in at least one improvement action for the next Sprint.



The Scrum Rules are intentionally designed to create focus, alignment, and consistency. They also enable empiricism by creating boundaries and expectations for the Scrum Team and the stakeholders.


The Scrum Guide: The Definitive Guide to Scrum by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland




The Scrum Guide is the official and authoritative source of information on Scrum. It is written and maintained by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the co-creators of Scrum. It defines Scrum as a framework, not a methodology or a process. It describes the roles, events, artifacts, and rules of Scrum, as well as the purpose and theory behind them.


The purpose of the Scrum Guide is to provide a common understanding of Scrum for everyone who uses it. It is intended to be simple, clear, and concise. It is not meant to be exhaustive or prescriptive. It leaves room for interpretation and adaptation by the Scrum Team and the organization, as long as they adhere to the core elements of Scrum.


The scope of the Scrum Guide is limited to defining Scrum as a framework. It does not cover how to implement Scrum in specific domains or contexts, how to use specific techniques or tools with Scrum, or how to scale Scrum for large or distributed teams. These topics are beyond the purpose of the Scrum Guide and are addressed by other sources of knowledge and practice.


The Scrum Guide is updated periodically to reflect the evolution of Scrum theory and practice. The latest version of the Scrum Guide was published in November 2020. It introduced some significant changes from the previous version, such as:



  • Emphasizing that Scrum is a framework for addressing complex adaptive problems, not only for software development.



  • Replacing the term "development team" with "developers" to avoid confusion with organizational teams.



  • Introducing a new artifact called "Product Goal" to provide focus and direction for the Product Backlog and the Sprint Goal.



  • Removing any mention of "roles" and replacing it with "accountabilities" to avoid implying hierarchy or fixed responsibilities.



  • Adding more clarity on how commitments are used for each artifact: Product Goal for Product Backlog, Sprint Goal for Sprint Backlog, Definition of Done for Increment.



  • Adding more guidance on how self-managing teams operate within Scrum.



The Scrum Guide is available for free online at https://scrumguides.org/. It can be downloaded in various formats and languages. It can also be accessed through various apps and tools that support Scrum practice.


Agile Software Development with Scrum by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle




Agile Software Development with Scrum is a book written by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle in 2001. It is one of the first books that introduced Scrum to the software development community. It is a classic book that explains Scrum theory and practice through case studies and examples.


The book is divided into three parts: Part I introduces the basic concepts and terminology of Scrum, such as complex adaptive systems, empirical process control, self-organization, sprints, product backlog, sprint backlog, daily scrum, sprint review, and sprint retrospective. Part II presents six case studies of applying Scrum in different domains and contexts, such as e-commerce, banking, telecommunications, automotive, and education. Part III covers some advanced Scrum concepts, such as scaling Scrum, distributed Scrum, scrum patterns, scrum metrics, and scrum tools.


The book is written in an engaging and conversational style, with anecdotes and stories that illustrate the challenges and benefits of using Scrum. It also provides practical advice and tips on how to implement Scrum effectively and overcome common pitfalls. The book is aimed at software developers, managers, customers, and anyone who is interested in learning more about Scrum.


The book is available for purchase online at https://www.amazon.com/Agile-Software-Development-Scrum-Professional/dp/0130676349. It can also be accessed through various libraries and online platforms.


Conclusion




In this article, we have explored what agile software development and scrum are, how they originated, what are their principles and practices, and how they can help you deliver value faster and better. We have also reviewed two important sources of knowledge on scrum: The Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, which defines the rules of the game, and Agile Software Development with Scrum by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle, which illustrates the theory and practice of scrum through real-world case studies and examples.


By reading this article, you have gained a comprehensive understanding of agile software development and scrum, and how you can apply them to your own projects. You have also found some resources and references for further learning and improvement.


If you want to learn more about agile software development and scrum, here are some suggestions:



  • Read the Scrum Guide in full and try to apply it to your own work.



  • Read Agile Software Development with Scrum in full and try to relate it to your own experience.



  • Visit https://www.scrum.org/, which is the home of Scrum founded by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. You can find more information on Scrum, training courses, certifications, events, blogs, podcasts, and community forums.



  • Visit https://www.agilealliance.org/, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting agile values and principles in the software industry. You can find more information on agile methods and frameworks, events, publications, blogs, podcasts, and community forums.



  • Visit https://www.scrumalliance.org/, which is a nonprofit organization that supports the adoption and effective use of Scrum. You can find more information on Scrum training courses, certifications, events, blogs, podcasts, and community forums.



  • Join a local or online agile or Scrum community of practice, such as a meetup group, a user group, a forum, or a chat room. You can learn from other practitioners, share your experience and challenges, and get feedback and support.



We hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new and useful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us. We would love to hear from you.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about agile software development and scrum:


What is the difference between agile and Scrum?




Agile is a set of values and principles that guide software development teams to deliver value faster and better. Scrum is one of the frameworks that implement agile values and principles in a simple yet effective way.


What are the benefits of using agile and Scrum?




Some of the benefits of using agile and Scrum are:



  • Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty by delivering valuable products that meet their needs and expectations.



  • Reduced risk and waste by delivering working software frequently and responding to changing requirements and feedback.



  • Improved quality and performance by adhering to high standards of technical excellence and good design.



  • Enhanced collaboration and communication by fostering a culture of trust, respect, and transparency among team members and stakeholders.



  • Boosted innovation and creativity by empowering teams to self-organize and experiment with new ideas and solutions.



  • Increased motivation and engagement by giving teams autonomy, mastery, and purpose in their work.



What are the challenges of using agile and Scrum?




Some of the challenges of using agile and Scrum are:



  • Lack of understanding or support from management or stakeholders who may have different expectations or preferences for how software development should be done.



  • Resistance to change or learning from team members or stakeholders who may be comfortable with the status quo or afraid of failure.



  • Difficulty in scaling or coordinating agile and Scrum across multiple teams or projects that may have dependencies or interdependencies.



  • Lack of skills or resources to implement agile and Scrum effectively, such as coaching, training, tools, or infrastructure.



Lack of discipline or commitment to follow agile and Scrum values and princi


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