In 2001 a group of programmers proposed the word “agile” to describe a set of values they shared. Several of these programmers had already developed methods based on these values. The values are universal, that’s how they were chosen. The methodologies, however, were designed for the technology landscape of the 1990s. Think of all the changes in technology and business practise in the last 25 years. If that seems too daunting just think about the last five years. In taking “Agile” mainstream, we adopt these ancient practises on faith while losing sight of the values that inspired them.
Delivering value with the Scrum framework for Agile product and project management approach.
Software is everywhere today, and countless software products and projects die a slow death without ever making any impact. Today’s planning and roadmap techniques expect the world to stand still while we deliver, and set products and projects up for failure from the very start. Even when they have good strategic plans, many organizations fail to communicate them and align everyone involved in delivery.
If you asked software developers about Agile, there are chances that a majority will discuss it with words like “Scrum”, “sprints” or “retrospectives”. However Agile is not just a collection of techniques and practices, but it is more a state of mind or a culture. This is the topic of this book written by Pollyanna Pixton, Paul Gibson and Niel Nickolaisen.
“Value” is the beacon, watchword, end game, justification, and mantra for Agile practitioners. You make product decisions in Scrum at every turn throughout discovery and delivery, balancing multiple perspectives.
Any framework worth using is built on principles and values. Each of the original agile practices – XP, Scrum, DSDM, Crystal, and FDD – as well as Kanban and Lean, has a set of core values. These values guide us, provide clarity in times of ambiguity, and, most importantly, help us understand why we do what we do. As you read in the story above, the team was attempting to go through the motions of Scrum, but they did not understand why.
When you explain the iterative/incremental nature of Agile, most people coming from a waterfall lifecycle say “What? No up-front planning at all?” Some Agile coaches would glibly say yes, but the truth is more complex. Sprint Zero is an Agile term for a time-boxed amount of up-front planning. During Sprint Zero, you identify value stories, get a decent backlog of user stories and you do some architectural proof-of-concepts. The trick is to balance between insufficient planning and analysis paralysis.
Scrum focuses on maximizing Return on Investment (ROI), but it does not define how to manage and track costs to evaluate actual ROI against the vision. A cost measurement that integrates with Scrum would be an additional feedback tool. This article presents the adaptation of the Earned Value Management (EVM) approach to the Scrum framework. The result is called AgileEVM (Agile Earned Value Management) and is a simplified set of earned value calculations. From the values in Scrum, a release date estimate is derived using mean velocity. Using this equation, you can generate a similar equation with traditional EVM techniques, thus establishing the validity of using EVM with the Scrum framework. This technique was applied to two projects to validate the approach. This experience also helped to determine the utility of AgileEVM.