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28

May

Five Pillars of Scrum

An Agile framework like Scrum naturally delivers many advantages over traditional sequential development frameworks.

At a high level they include:

  • Embracing change
  • Transparency
  • Continuous improvement
  • Shortened feedback loops
  • Working software

An Agile framework like Scrum naturally delivers many advantages over traditional sequential development frameworks.

Let’s look at each of these advantages in turn.

Embracing change

Change will certainly happen during the lifecycle of software development. Scrum is an Agile framework that allows decisions to be made at the last possible moment, when the most up to date information is at hand. In most cases, change is born out of experiences and influences that can’t be anticipated at the start. Yet those experiences and influences can often deliver the most value to the software. Accepting this, and having it as part of the software development process, is key to delivering higher value and more useful software.

Transparency

The Scrum team and Product Owner work closely to ensure the highest value software is delivered in a given sprint. With the help of the Scrum Master, progress against an agreed goal is communicated in real time (if the correct tools are used), or at least daily. Informative workspaces, task boards, the definition of done, and burndown charts all help to inform everyone as to the team’s progress against the sprint goal. The product backlog communicates the readiness of the prioritised stories that will be looked at next, meaning the quality of story refinement is on display at all times. Nothing is hidden, complete transparency is achieved.

Continuous improvement

Retrospective reflection is built into Scrum. We look back at our performance and the processes we followed to understand how we can do things better in the next sprint. Scrum forces us to make sure we take the time to work as a team to become a better team. Continuous improvement allows us to become more accurate, more productive, and produce better quality software as we move through the software development lifecycle. The team can agree on which improvements to focus on while keeping the sprint goal in mind. This is why a team in sprints 5, 6 and 7 always performs better than it did in sprints 1, 2 and 3.

Shortened feedback loops

Feedback loops allow the team to take on board input from stakeholders and (most importantly) end users, early and often. This minimises the impact of deviations from expectation, leading to smaller course corrections – if, in fact, they do occur. Feedback loops link nicely to embracing change and transparency which, when combined, make sure the highest business value is delivered in the shortest time possible. Feedback loops can also help keep the product backlog fresh and challenge existing priorities.

Working software

The success of a Scrum framework is measured in working software, plain and simple. With Scrum you get 100% of something – that “something” being the highest business value available at that time. The goal at the end of a sprint should be to support a complete business outcome rather than deliver several disparate features or stories. That way, you know you will get something you can use. Said another way, it’s better to satisfy 100% of 50% of your highest priorities than it is to satisfy 50% of all of them (which can sometimes eventuate in a sequential software delivery framework). This is the key difference between a value driven framework, like Scrum, over a plan driven framework.

Posted by: Lee Herd, Architect, Architecture Services | 28 May 2015

Tags: Agile, Development, Frameworks, Scrum


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