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How is Quality related to Scope and Business Value?

In Scrum, quality is defined as the ability of the completed product or deliverables to meet the Acceptance Criteria and achieve the business value expected by the customer. To ensure that a project meets quality requirements, Scrum adopts an approach of continuous improvement whereby the team learns from experience and stakeholder engagement to constantly keep the Prioritized Product Backlog updated with any changes in requirements. The Prioritized Product Backlog is simply never complete until the closure or termination of the project. Any changes to the requirements reflect changes in the internal and external business environment and allow the team to continually work and adapt to achieve those requirements.

The fact that Scrum, through repetitive testing, requires work to be Done in an incremental fashion through Sprints rather than waiting until the end to produce deliverables results in errors being fixed right away, rather than postponed. Moreover, important quality-related tasks (e.g., development, testing, and documentation) are completed as part of the same Sprint by the same team—this ensures that quality is inherent in any Done deliverable created as part of a Sprint. Thus, continuous improvement with repetitive testing optimizes the probability of achieving the expected quality levels in a Scrum project. Constant discussions between the Scrum Core Team and stakeholders (including customers and users) with actual increments of the product being delivered at the end of every Sprint, ensures that the gap between customer expectations from the project and actual deliverables produced is constantly reduced.

Quality and Scope

Scope and quality requirements for a project are determined by taking into consideration various factors such as the following:

  • The business need the project will fulfill
  • The capability and willingness of the organization to meet the identified business need
  • The current and future needs of the target audience

Scope of the project is the sum total of all the product increments and the work required for developing the final product. Quality is the ability of the deliverables to meet the quality requirements for the product and satisfy customer needs. In Scrum, the scope and quality of the project are captured in the Prioritized Product Backlog and the scope for each Sprint is determined by refining the large Prioritized Product Backlog Items (PBIs) into a set of small but detailed User Stories that can be planned, developed, and verified within a Sprint.

The Prioritized Product Backlog is continuously groomed by the Product Owner. The Product Owner ensures that any User Stories that the Scrum Team is expected to do in a Sprint are refined prior to the start of the Sprint. In general, the most valuable requirements in solving the customers’ problems or meeting their needs are prioritized as high and the remaining are given a lower priority. Less important User Stories are developed in subsequent Sprints or can be left out altogether according to the customer’s requirements. During Sprint execution, the Product Owner, customer, and the Scrum Team can discuss the list of features of the product to comply with the changing needs of the customers.

Quality and Business Value

Quality and business value are closely linked. Therefore, it is critical to understand the quality and scope of a project in order to correctly map the outcomes and benefits the project and its product must achieve in order to deliver business value. To determine the business value of a product, it is important to understand the business need that drives the requirements of the product. Thus, business need determines the product required, and the product, in turn provide the expected business value.

Quality is a complex variable. An increase in scope without increasing time or resources tends to reduce quality. Similarly, a reduction in time or resources without decreasing scope also generally results in a decrease in quality. Scrum believes in maintaining a ʺsustainable paceʺ of work, which helps improve quality over a period of time.

The Scrum Guidance Body may define minimum quality requirements and standards required for all projects in the organization. The standards must be adhered to by all Scrum Teams in the company.

To know more, please visit: www.scrumstudy.com

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How is Quality related to Scope and Business Value?

In Scrum, quality is defined as the ability of the completed product or deliverables to meet the Acceptance Criteria and achieve the business value expected by the customer. To ensure that a project meets quality requirements, Scrum adopts an approach of continuous improvement whereby the team learns from experience and stakeholder engagement to constantly keep the Prioritized Product Backlog updated with any changes in requirements. The Prioritized Product Backlog is simply never complete until the closure or termination of the project. Any changes to the requirements reflect changes in the internal and external business environment and allow the team to continually work and adapt to achieve those requirements.

The fact that Scrum, through repetitive testing, requires work to be Done in an incremental fashion through Sprints rather than waiting until the end to produce deliverables results in errors being fixed right away, rather than postponed. Moreover, important quality-related tasks (e.g., development, testing, and documentation) are completed as part of the same Sprint by the same team—this ensures that quality is inherent in any Done deliverable created as part of a Sprint. Thus, continuous improvement with repetitive testing optimizes the probability of achieving the expected quality levels in a Scrum project. Constant discussions between the Scrum Core Team and stakeholders (including customers and users) with actual increments of the product being delivered at the end of every Sprint, ensures that the gap between customer expectations from the project and actual deliverables produced is constantly reduced.

Quality and Scope

Scope and quality requirements for a project are determined by taking into consideration various factors such as the following:

  • The business need the project will fulfill
  • The capability and willingness of the organization to meet the identified business need
  • The current and future needs of the target audience

Scope of the project is the sum total of all the product increments and the work required for developing the final product. Quality is the ability of the deliverables to meet the quality requirements for the product and satisfy customer needs. In Scrum, the scope and quality of the project are captured in the Prioritized Product Backlog and the scope for each Sprint is determined by refining the large Prioritized Product Backlog Items (PBIs) into a set of small but detailed User Stories that can be planned, developed, and verified within a Sprint.

The Prioritized Product Backlog is continuously groomed by the Product Owner. The Product Owner ensures that any User Stories that the Scrum Team is expected to do in a Sprint are refined prior to the start of the Sprint. In general, the most valuable requirements in solving the customers’ problems or meeting their needs are prioritized as high and the remaining are given a lower priority. Less important User Stories are developed in subsequent Sprints or can be left out altogether according to the customer’s requirements. During Sprint execution, the Product Owner, customer, and the Scrum Team can discuss the list of features of the product to comply with the changing needs of the customers.

Quality and Business Value

Quality and business value are closely linked. Therefore, it is critical to understand the quality and scope of a project in order to correctly map the outcomes and benefits the project and its product must achieve in order to deliver business value. To determine the business value of a product, it is important to understand the business need that drives the requirements of the product. Thus, business need determines the product required, and the product, in turn provide the expected business value.

Quality is a complex variable. An increase in scope without increasing time or resources tends to reduce quality. Similarly, a reduction in time or resources without decreasing scope also generally results in a decrease in quality. Scrum believes in maintaining a ʺsustainable paceʺ of work, which helps improve quality over a period of time.

The Scrum Guidance Body may define minimum quality requirements and standards required for all projects in the organization. The standards must be adhered to by all Scrum Teams in the company.

Sprint Backlog in Scrum

What is a Sprint Backlog? Is it a baseline, a record or a report? Baseline is a project document, which, defines aspects of the project and, once approved, is subject to change control. It is used to measure project’s actual performance as against planned targets. A record maintains information on the progress of the project. A report provides snapshots of the status of different aspects of a project at a given point of time or for a given duration.
To answer this question, we need to understand what a Sprint Backlog is, its purpose and composition. The Scrum Team creates the Sprint Backlog and Sprint Burndown Chart using the User Stories and the Effort Estimated Task List during Sprint Planning Meeting. During Sprint Planning Meeting, the User Stories, which are approved, estimated, and committed during the Approve, Estimate, and Commit User Stories process, are taken up for discussion by the Scrum Team. Each Scrum Team member also uses Effort Estimated Task List to select the tasks they plan to work on in the Sprint, based on their skills and experience. The list of the tasks to be executed by the Scrum Team in the upcoming Sprint is called the Sprint Backlog.
It is common practice in Scrum that the Sprint Backlog is represented on a Scrumboard or task board, which provides a constantly visible depiction of the status of the User Stories in the backlog. Also included in the Sprint Backlog are any risks associated with the various tasks. Any mitigating activities to address the identified risks would also be included as tasks in the Sprint Backlog. Once the Sprint Backlog is finalized and committed to by the Scrum Team, new user stories should not be added – however, tasks that might have been missed or overlooked from the committed user stories may need to be added. If new requirements arise during a Sprint, they will be added to the overall Prioritized Product Backlog and included in a future Sprint.
Another tool associated with the Sprint Backlog is the Sprint Burndown Chart. It is a graph that depicts the amount of work remaining in the ongoing Sprint. The initial Sprint Burndown Chart is accompanied by a planned burndown. The Sprint Burndown Chart should be updated at the end of each day as work is completed. This chart shows the progress that has been made by the Scrum Team and also allows for the detection of estimates that may have been incorrect. If the Sprint Burndown Chart shows that the Scrum Team is not on track to finish the tasks in the Sprint on time, the Scrum Master should identify any obstacles or impediments to successful completion, and try to remove them. A related chart is a Sprint Burnup Chart. Unlike the Sprint Burndown Chart which shows the amount of work remaining, the Sprint Burnup Chart depicts the work completed as part of the Sprint.
So, it is difficult to categorize the Sprint Backlog as a baseline, record or a report. And as Scrum professes minimum documentation, Sprint Backlog fulfills purposes of more than one project document. For more information on Scrum framework, you can read the Scrum Body of Knowledge (SBOK Guide). It can be downloaded for free in SCRUMstudy website: http://www.scrumstudy.com/download-free-buy-SBOK.asp
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Overcoming the Challenges faced by a Scrum Team

Scrum Team, also referred to as the development team, is responsible for developing the product and they possess all the essential skills required to carry out the work of the project. They have a high level of collaboration to maximize productivity, so that minimal coordination is required to get things done. To minimize dependency, team members are experts in chosen domain, but also possess basic knowledge and skills about other domains.

Some of the challenges faced by a Scrum Team are:

Establish a common understanding of the customer’s requirements and the approach to develop the product
The Scrum Team consists of members with different levels of expertise, experiences, and viewpoints. So, all members should be aligned with the customer’s requirements to successfully develop the product and meet (or exceed) their expectations.

Function as a single unit to achieve the goals of the project
A Scrum Team is a cross functional unit that consists of members from diverse groups.This diversity might lead to friction within the team, especially in the formative stage. So, the team must strive to function as a single unit to avoid any internal conflicts that can disrupt work.

Create an environment that fosters collaboration among the Scrum Team members
Collaboration refers to a team proactively sharing thoughts, ideas and expertise to overcome challenges, or to improve a product’s quality. Collaborating can help a team deliver high quality products in a lesser time. Knowledge sharing is an important part of collaboration.

Be prepared to address customer’s change requests at any point during the product development lifecycle
Scrum projects are characterized by high rates of changes, depending on the customer’s requirements. Change requests may be initiated due to fluctuating market conditions, change in the preferences of end users, financial parameters, etc. So, the Scrum Team members should be able to accommodate change requests as the objective of a Scrum project is deliver functionality of the highest value to the customer.

Possess some business skills to ensure smooth communication with Product Owners and customers
Scrum Teams are often required to interact with Product Owners and sponsors. They might be required to negotiate with the Product Owner to decide which features can be delivered during a sprint or which features might contribute to the highest value. While the Scrum Team does possess technical skills, it is important that the team also possess adequate business knowledge to be able to better interact with the Product Owner.
 
Ensure team velocity is sustainable and that the team delivers the committed work
The Scrum Team should work at a pace that is sustainable. This means that the team should neither over estimate nor under estimate tasks. Estimating may be difficult initially. However, after a few sprints, teams should be able to estimate with more accuracy.
Since a sprint is time-boxed, the team must find an optimal rhythm to ensure that it meets the objectives of a sprint a time bound manner.

Ensure continuous process improvement
The Scrum team is responsible for continual process improvement over the course of a project. Teams must proactively participate in Daily Standup Meetings, Retrospect Sprint Meetings, and Retrospect Project Meeting to share their learning and brainstorm for process improvement.

 

For interesting articles about Scrum and Agile, visit www.scrumstudy.com/blog

Overcoming the Challenges faced by a Scrum Team

Scrum Team, also referred to as the development team, is responsible for developing the product and they possess all the essential skills required to carry out the work of the project. They have a high level of collaboration to maximize productivity, so that minimal coordination is required to get things done. To minimize dependency, team members are experts in chosen domain, but also possess basic knowledge and skills about other domains.

Some of the challenges faced by a Scrum Team are:

Establish a common understanding of the customer’s requirements and the approach to develop the product
The Scrum Team consists of members with different levels of expertise, experiences, and viewpoints. So, all members should be aligned with the customer’s requirements to successfully develop the product and meet (or exceed) their expectations.

Function as a single unit to achieve the goals of the project
A Scrum Team is a cross functional unit that consists of members from diverse groups.This diversity might lead to friction within the team, especially in the formative stage. So, the team must strive to function as a single unit to avoid any internal conflicts that can disrupt work.

Create an environment that fosters collaboration among the Scrum Team members
Collaboration refers to a team proactively sharing thoughts, ideas and expertise to overcome challenges, or to improve a product’s quality. Collaborating can help a team deliver high quality products in a lesser time. Knowledge sharing is an important part of collaboration.

Be prepared to address customer’s change requests at any point during the product development lifecycle
Scrum projects are characterized by high rates of changes, depending on the customer’s requirements. Change requests may be initiated due to fluctuating market conditions, change in the preferences of end users, financial parameters, etc. So, the Scrum Team members should be able to accommodate change requests as the objective of a Scrum project is deliver functionality of the highest value to the customer.

Possess some business skills to ensure smooth communication with Product Owners and customers
Scrum Teams are often required to interact with Product Owners and sponsors. They might be required to negotiate with the Product Owner to decide which features can be delivered during a sprint or which features might contribute to the highest value. While the Scrum Team does possess technical skills, it is important that the team also possess adequate business knowledge to be able to better interact with the Product Owner.
 
Ensure team velocity is sustainable and that the team delivers the committed work
The Scrum Team should work at a pace that is sustainable. This means that the team should neither over estimate nor under estimate tasks. Estimating may be difficult initially. However, after a few sprints, teams should be able to estimate with more accuracy.
Since a sprint is time-boxed, the team must find an optimal rhythm to ensure that it meets the objectives of a sprint a time bound manner.

Ensure continuous process improvement
The Scrum team is responsible for continual process improvement over the course of a project. Teams must proactively participate in Daily Standup Meetings, Retrospect Sprint Meetings, and Retrospect Project Meeting to share their learning and brainstorm for process improvement.

For interesting articles about Scrum and Agile, visit www.scrumstudy.com/blog

What is a Persona?

Personas are highly detailed fictional characters, representative of the majority of users and of other stakeholders who may not directly use the end product. Personas are created to identify the needs of the target user base. Creating specific Personas can help the team better understand users and their requirements and goals. Based on a Persona, the Product Owner can more effectively prioritize features to create the Prioritized Product Backlog.

Creating a Persona

Creating a Persona involves assigning a fictional name and preferably a picture, like a stock image, to the character. The Persona will include highly specific attributes such as age, gender, education, environment, interests, and goals. A small group of users are selected to form the focus group and this group may be selected randomly from a large pool of users or can be selected specifically to represent all the major Personas being targeted. A quote illustrating the Persona’s requirements can be included as well. Below is an example of a Persona for a travel website.

An example for this concept Personas

Vanessa is a 39 year old resident of San Francisco. She is pursuing her passion for traveling after having a highly successful career as an attorney. She likes to have options while picking air travel and accommodation services so that she can choose the best and the most affordable. She gets frustrated with slow and cluttered websites.

For interesting articles about Scrum and Agile, visit www.scrumstudy.com/blog

Implementing Scrum in Organizations

Scrum is not your regular waterfall technique but an agile framework which changes and, at times, challenges traditional roles. The Organizational Resource Matrix is a hierarchical depiction of a combination of a functional organizational structure and a projectized organizational structure. Matrix organizations bring together team members for a project from different functional departments such as information technology, finance, marketing, sales, manufacturing, and other departments – and create cross-functional teams. Managers, developers, and testers will be assigned the roles of the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Development Team (Scrum Team).

The Skills Requirement Matrix, also known as a competency framework, is used to assess skill gaps and training requirements for team members. A skills matrix maps the skills, capabilities, and interest level of team members in using those skills and capabilities on a project. Using this matrix, the organization can assess any skill gaps in team members and identify the employees who will need further training in a particular area or competency. Team members may not always possess the required knowledge or skills to work in the Scrum environment. The Product Owner should evaluate the training needs of potential team members and facilitate training to bridge any knowledge gaps in the team.

The Product Owner is normally responsible for evaluating and selecting team members, but often does this in consultation with the Scrum Master who may have additional knowledge of the resources from working with them on other projects. Appropriate training should be provided to the Scrum Team members both prior to the commencement of work, and also when they are working on their projects. Scrum Team members should also be ready to learn from each other and from more experienced persons in the team. The awareness level of Scrum in an organization needs to be assessed which will help probe into the readiness of an organization and its people for Scrum.

There are different aspects of an organization that needs to be gauged: organizational, infrastructural, business, team, technological, and procedural. The results of the assessment will allow for a more specific awareness generation or training in the area concerned.  Product Managers, Project Managers, Functional / Departmental Managers, Scrum Team Members (including Architects, Designers, Coders, Testers, and others), and Executives in organizations doing Scrum must be provided with the right level of insight into Scrum for its successful implementation. Insight should not just be provided to the core roles (Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Scrum Team) but should also extend to the non-core roles (Users, Stakeholders, Consulting Experts, and Management).

Creating a good cooperation and continuous exchange of information between these two roles is crucial to the success of a project. The non-core roles have to be actively involved in envisioning the product and providing feedback as to “what” should constitute the desired product. The Scrum Team and the Product Owner should be left to figure out the “how” of achieving the desired results.  Changed to Scrum team. Therefore, the Scrum Team must be trained to actively seek feedback from the Product Owner who funnels the feedback from the other non-core roles, and those stakeholders must be sensitized well in the practices of Scrum so that they do not interfere with the workings of the Scrum Team.

For a well-developed Scrum implementation in an organization, the level of awareness about Agile principles and values must be extensive. The Scrum Team has to be sensitized and trained in the ways of Scrum and the Scrum Master should act like a coach. The Scrum Master needs to bring out the best from the Scrum team by motivating them and facilitating the development process. Apart from the Scrum Team, the Product Owner also needs to be trained well.  The Product Owner is the bridge between requirements and development. The more he/she is able to understand the requirements the better product development will be.

Implementation of Scrum changes not just the development team or a few management executives associated with a team or a project but at every level of the organization. Change at an organizational level is complex and is influenced by various factors: the culture of an organization, insecurity of managers, employee resistance, failure to see the need for change, fear of the unknown. These hurdles need to be addressed professionally by the Scrum Master. Clear objectives need to be communicated to all personnel about the implementation of Scrum.

For interesting articles about Scrum and Agile, visit www.scrumstudy.com/blog