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AGILE Framework and Methodologies : Introduction to SCRUM

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SPRINTFRAMEWORK

SCRUM is an excellent framework for developing complex software products. Broadly speaking, SCRUM is a collection of ideas related to project management time boxed to provide a high quality working software. Specific to IT, SCRUM is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex projects. SCRUM provides a small set of rules that create just enough structure for teams to be able to focus their innovation on solving the product requirements what might otherwise be an insurmountable challenge.

SCRUM Framework is an iterative incremental product development approach where interaction with the environment is allowed, accepts changes to the project scope, technology, functionality, cost, and schedule whenever required. Controls are used to measure & manage the impact of change. SCRUM accepts that the requirements are changing and unpredictable, the working product developed using SCRUM is the BEST possible software, factoring in cost, functionality, timing and quality.

In 1986, Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka,published a paper “The New New Product Development Game” in HBR suggesting Waterfall doesn’t work and needs a dynamic development model.

Later, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the co-creators of SCRUM, Ken worked with Jeff Sutherland to formulate the initial versions of the SCRUM development process and to present SCRUM as a formal process at OOPSLA’95.

The SCRUM framework consists of SCRUM Teams and their associated roles, events, artifacts, and rules. Each component within the framework serves a specific purpose and is essential to SCRUM’s success and usage.

SCRUM employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and control risk.  Three pillars which uphold every implementation of empirical process control are

transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

Transparency:

Significant aspects of the process must be visible to those responsible for the outcome.

Inspection:

SCRUM users must frequently inspect SCRUM artifacts and progress toward a goal to detect undesirable variances.

Adaptation:

If an inspector determines that one or more aspects of a process deviate outside acceptable limits, and that the resulting product will be unacceptable, the process or the material being processed must be adjusted. An adjustment must be made as soon as possible to minimize further deviation.

SCRUM prescribes four formal opportunities for inspection and adaptation:

– Sprint Planning Meeting

– Daily SCRUM

– Sprint Review

– Sprint Retrospective

Characteristics of SCRUM are as follows

1. Self Organizing Teams
2. Product progresses in a series of month long sprint.
3. Requirements are captured as items in a list of product backlog
4. No specific engineering practices prescribed
5. Uses generative rules to create an agile environment for delivering projects
6. One of the “agile processes”

The essence of SCRUM is
  • The team is committed to achieve its goal – high quality working software.
  • The team self organizes itself for meeting its commitment.
  • The team delivers at each iterative cycle the most valuable features to the product owner.
  • The team adapts to the changing needs suggested by feedback and retrospective from sprint review & retrospective meeting.
  • The team’s performance is transparent and can be measured in terms of progress being made.
  • The team and management honestly communicate about progress and risks.

The SCRUM way of working is based on values of commitment, team spirit, self respect, respect for others, trust and courage. SCRUM never suggest any methodology or engineering practice to teams to do their work but expect team to fulfill the commitment – high quality product.

The SCRUM FRAMEWORK  consists of the Team, SCRUM Master and Product Owner.

TEAM is collectively responsible for meeting the commitment of each sprint goal and of the project as a whole.

TEAM

are self organized, self-managing and motivated cross-functional members. The team is fully dedicated to innovate and create working product from product backlog items incrementally within the sprint.

SCRUM MASTER

is philosopher, guide to the team, helping the team to implement the scrum methodology for product development. He removes any impediments or hurdles for the team. He makes sure the process is moving. Institutionalize SCRUM process to the complete organization.

PRODUCT OWNER

is responsible for delivering the vision in a way that maximizes the ROI & minimizes the risk, formulates the plan and converts it to product backlog. He responsible to communicate the progress and changes of the working product to all the stakeholders of the Product. PO is also responsible for prioritizing the functionality of the product that needs worked upon by the team.

All work is done in Sprints; each sprint is an iteration of 2-4 consecutive weeks. Each Sprint is initiated with a Sprint planning meeting where Product Owner and Team get together to collaborate what product backlog items needs to be worked upon in next sprint.

All the backlog items that team commits is put into sprint backlog where each product backlog item is divided into multiple tasks in sprint backlog, the tasks in the sprint backlog emerge as the sprint evolves. With Sprint planning, the sprint starts and the clock starts to tick towards Sprint time-box.

The team members needs to attend the DAILY SCRUM meeting and keep the sprint backlog up-to-date. Everyone answers 3 questions in DAILY SCRUM meeting

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What will you do today?
  3. Is anything in your way?

The SCRUM Master updates the Task board based on the briefing in the Daily SCRUM meeting. These are not status updates but commitments in front of peers.

At the end of the sprint, a sprint review meeting is held. the purpose of the sprint review meeting is to demo the working software to the product owner. Product owners discusses with the stakeholders and team potential rearrangement of the Product Backlog based on the feedback. Stakeholders give feedback and identify any new functionality and request additions to the Product Backlog for prioritization.

After this SCRUM Master holds Sprint retrospective meeting with the team, At this time-boxed meeting SCRUM Master encourages team to review, within the scrum process to make it more effective for the next sprint. To track remaining work Sprint Burndown chart is used, This reports remaining estimated workload over the course of the project

To Summarize, SCRUM is a most popular framework of AGILE project management methodologies. It has ROLES (Product Owner, Scrum Master, Team), CEREMONIES/EVENTS (Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective, Daily Scrum meeting) and ARTIFACTS (Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Burndown charts). In my future coming articles I will be explaining in detail all the ROLES, CEREMONIES/EVENTS and ARTIFACTS of SCRUM FRAMEWORK till then happy reading and drop me any feedback or comments below.

Agile Framework and Methodologies: Principles and Values of Agile.

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Agile-Manifest

Agile empowers teams continuously plan their release to optimize its value throughout development life-cycle, so teams are competitive as possible in the marketplace. Development using an agile methodology preserves a product’s critical market relevance and ensures a team’s work doesn’t wind up on a shelf, never released.

A small group of people got together in 2001 to discuss their thoughts about the failure of traditional approach of software development life-cycle and is there a better way to do this?  They came up with the agile manifesto, which describes 4 important values that are still relevant today, The use of the word agile in this context derives from the agile manifesto.  It says, “we value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.” Ever since then, the use of methods that support these values has become increasingly popular.
The twelve Agile principles derived from four key values in agile manifesto.

These twelve Agile principles are as follows:

1.  To meet the Customer Product expectations through iterative high quality, customer friendly software
2.  To accept changes as the come from customer to increase customer’s competitive advantage in the market.
3.  Deliver incremental working software to the customer in agreed time-boxes or period.
4.  Team is mix of cross functional professionals i.e. both technical and business domain experts.
5.  Team works in a highly motivated helpful environment, team enjoys all support & trust during project life-cycle.
6.  Most effective communication among team members to convey information between them regularly i.e. daily face to face meeting.
7.  Working Product is the only measure of progress.
8.  Agile believes in constant iterative development, all the team members & sponsors need to keep up this constant development speed.
9.  Continuous focus on Quality & Design Enhancements improves effectiveness & usability of the product being developed.
10. Simplifying the art of identifying the incomplete work is the important factor for continuing the product development.
11. Only the most motivated & highly disciplined self-organizing teams can  innovate best designs and specifications for the product.
12. The team effectively adapts itself to ever-changing needs of the project & product requirements.

The real goal of any business is the Quality working software and the way to get there is all these things that Agile principles asks us to do, through a continual process of learning.

In the next article of Agile Framework and Methodologies series I will be discussing about finer details about SCRUM Methodologies.

Agile Framework and Methodologies: Why Agile?

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AgileMethods

In this article, I will explain why follow Agile Framework instead of Waterfall. Later I will explain the different methodologies of Agile Framework.
Enterprises following agile development process helps their team to cut risks and to mitigate uncertainty. This has led to cut development time and delivering of relevant high quality product to the current market.

Agile Methodology is becoming popular and catching up with the IT industry because of the following reasons:
1. It helps teams embrace rapid changes & increase adaptability with customers easily.
2. It helps teams to mitigate risks at early stages of product life-cycle.
3. Customers see the visible progress as they are able feel of working software.
4. Customers give feedback at every stage of the product life cycle, since they are part of the product development.
5. Early adaptation of feedback leads to  a system that meets the needs of various stakeholders.
6. Complexity of the features are properly prioritized and easily managed by the team.
7. Team has chance to learn from mistakes during each iteration of development.

Using the Agile methodologies helps team to avoid pitfalls of traditional approach such as
1. Stabilization of Product and Releases are too long.
2. Unable to carry out Frequent Code changes
3. Unable to do rework development.
4. Requirements are not clear as client is not involved in every iteration of development.
5. The time difference between requirements taken and product released time was very long, This elapsed time made product irrelevant as market has changed rapidly.

For all the above reasons IT teams are embracing Agile Methodologies and develop new rapidly changing products.

The Different methodologies of Agile Framework are as follows:
1. DSDM : Dynamic System Development Methodology is an agile framework for software projects, it was used to fine tune the traditional approaches. The most recent version of DSDM is called DSDM Atern. The name Atern is a shortening of Arctic Tern – a collaborative bird[citation needed] that can travel vast distances and epitomizes many facets of the method which are natural ways of working e.g. prioritization and collaboration. DSDM addresses the most common failures of information systems projects, including exceeding budgets, missing deadlines, and lack of user involvement and top-management commitment
2. Scrum: Scrum is most popular agile framework in the world, Scrum uses iterative and incremental development model. Scrum concentrates particularly on how to manage tasks within a team-based development environment. Scrum provides the simple framework of basic tenets to solve problems and deliver good results – more valuable software faster.
3. XP : Extreme Programming is a type of agile software development, it advocates frequent “releases” in short development cycles, which is intended to improve productivity and introduce checkpoints where new customer requirements can be adopted. The methodology takes its name from the idea that the beneficial elements of traditional software engineering practices are taken to “extreme” levels. Extreme Programming is a software-development discipline that organizes people to produce higher-quality software more productively. XP addresses the analysis, development and test phases with novel approaches that make a substantial difference to the quality of the end product.
4. TDD: Test-driven development (TDD) is a software development process that relies on the repetition of a very short development cycle: first the developer writes an (initially failing) automated test case that defines a desired improvement or new function, then produces the least amount of code to pass that test, and finally refractors the new code to acceptable standards.
5. Lean: Lean is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. Working from the perspective of the customer who consumes a product or service, “value” is defined as any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for. Lean is centered on preserving value with less work.
6. Kanban: Kanban is a system to control the logistical chain from a production point of view, and is not an inventory control system. Kanban was developed by Taiichi Ohno, at Toyota, to find a system to improve and keep up a high level of production. Kanban is one method through which JIT is achieved. Kanban became an effective tool in support of running a production system as a whole, and it proved to be an excellent way for promoting improvement.

To close Agile Framework helps teams to benefit like
1. Faster Time to Market.
2. Reduce Uncertainty & Risk.
3. Increase ROI by focusing on Customer Value.
And all the teams who want to carry out Agile can choose one of the above methodologies depending upon their team flexibility and adaptability.
In my next blog article I will explain about Agile Values and Principles.