Why We Love Scrum (And You Should, Too!)

22
Jan 18
scrum

Why We Love Scrum (And You Should, Too!)

Having developed IT solutions for dozens of companies from all around the world, we have had to do with both traditional and agile methodologies. Over the years we have come to the conclusion that there is no better way of understanding customer’s needs and translating them into software than with a little help of… a whiteboard and a pad of sticky notes.

As surprising as it sounds it is the only requirement necessary to start working in Scrum. And not even a definite one. The essence of Scrum is intangible. It is rather a set of values, rules and roles than a strict procedure to follow or a tool to use. This is probably the first reason why we have liked it so much. It gives us room for creativeness, unconventional solutions and freedom of expressing our perspective. All that works perfectly in favor of solving complex problems, prioritizing tasks and delegating them to individual members of the team.

Agile and Scrum – is it any different?

scrum agile

At the beginning, it might get a little confusing. Not to delve too far into the theory, Agile refers to a set of methods and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the Agile Manifesto, which includes things like collaboration, self-organization, and cross-functionality of teams. Scrum to say the least is one of the many frameworks that fall into the category of agile development. As Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland explain in the Scrum Guide: “it 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. The rules of Scrum bind together the events, roles, and artifacts, governing the relationships and interaction between them”.

Why we prefer this particular way is mostly because it can be easily adjusted to the requirements of our client. This way no matter what your field of expertise is, what kind of business process needs to be tamed by the software – we will be able to help you.

scrum agile

If you still do not quite get the difference, try comparing… a diet and a recipe. A recipe for a particular dish needs to correspond with your diet. Otherwise, you will never see results! A diet is something “bigger” which determines what kind of recipe you are going to choose from the cookbook. Same with software development. Or any other project for that matter. There is no Scrum if you do not follow Agile Manifesto. Or at least you cannot say you have been following “doctor’s orders”.

 

 

 

Scrum is people

You really do not need much to begin working in Scrum. If there is a team of people willing to try, you are good to go!

scrumStart from assigning jobs. The actual tools you are going to use (the famous whiteboard for example) are not as important as getting the roles right.

First of all, the Scrum project requires a Product Owner. This is the person who represents user’s best interest and has the authority to say what goes into the final product. She or he stays in charge of an artifact typical for Scrum called Backlog. Product Owner not only approves the list of tasks and requirements but also prioritizes everything on it. The question a Product Owner needs to answer the most is: Is it a “Must Have” or a “Nice to Have” feature?

 

Every group requires a leader, someone who will discipline the rest. Without it there is a fair risk of procrastinating, trumping up or losing the motivation. Having that in mind, another very important role “to cast” is the role of a Scrum Master – the person who helps the team move along with the job. But being a leader means so much more than just bossing people around. In Scrum, the leader is also a servant. Not even the Scrum Master has the power to tell the Development Team how to turn Product Backlog into an Increment of a potentially releasable functionality!

Speaking of, a Development Team is a group of people responsible for delivering shippable product increments every Sprint (which is the goal!). The team needs to be self-organizing and cross-functional. It means that they independently decide how to proceed with the job and hold the competencies necessary to do so; without depending on others who are not a part of the team.

In our world of software development, the members of the Scrum Team are mostly programmers. Sometimes also sales representatives or business analysts. Regardless of what is their position in the company though, Scrum never recognizes titles other than a Developer. In the Development Team, everyone is equal and have the same right to speak up at any time.

Additionally, Scrum recognizes 5 rules of how the people involved should cooperate. Everything in order to organize the job and properly allocate responsibilities to the members of the team.

  1. Commitment: Team members individually commit to achieving their team goals, each and every Sprint.
  2. Courage: Team members know they have the courage to work through conflict and challenges together so that they can do the right thing.
  3. Focus: Team members focus exclusively on their team goals and the Sprint Backlog; there should be no work done other than through their Backlog.
  4. Openness: Team members and their stakeholders agree to be transparent about their work and any challenges they face.
  5. Respect: Team members respect each other to be technically capable and to work with good intent.

 

About the artifacts

– explaining all that weird stuff we have mentioned (and some more)

scrum

While talking about the roles, we have failed not to use some other cryptic terms. Therefore, we owe you some explanation.

First of all – Product Backlog. It is an ordered list of everything that is needed in the product or simply the only source of requirements and changes to be made. It contains a description of features, functions, requirements, enhancements, and necessary fixes. Important sidenote: it is never complete! It evolves constantly, as the product and the environment change.

 

Sprint. We have used that referring to a single iteration, a period of time (usually 2 weeks) in which the Development Team is obliged to introduce a finished Increment to the project.

The Increment is the sum of all the tasks completed during a single Sprint. It must be in useable condition and meet the definition of “Done.” It is up to the Development Team and the Product Owner to decide how that definition sounds like. What we say at eVolpe Software House is that it just means a working piece of software, 100% ready to be introduced to our client.

(But we have not explained everything about the Sprint yet!)

A Sprint consists of a couple of smaller parts. It is full 10 working days after all. Those elements are the Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, the development work, the Sprint Review, and the Sprint Retrospective. Now, let’s quickly go through them.

The Sprint Planning is a meeting being held in order to answer two following questions:

  1. What can we deliver in the upcoming Sprint?

  2. How will we achieve that?

 

The Daily Scrum (or Stand-Up) is an about 15-minutes-long meeting held to synchronize activities and create a plan for the next 24 hours. This is done by inspecting the work since the last Daily Scrum and forecasting the work that could be done before the next one.

A Sprint Review is held at the end of the Sprint to inspect the Increment and adapt the Product Backlog (if needed). During the Sprint Review, the Scrum Team and stakeholders collaborate about what was done in the Sprint. Based on that, attendees collaborate on the next things that could be done to optimize project’s value.

The Sprint Retrospective is an opportunity for the Team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next Sprint.

3 Pillars of Scrum (and the whiteboard, at last)

scrumCongratulations, you have made it to the end of this article and here it is your price! We are finally going to speak on the whiteboard!

An important principle of Scrum is the idea of Transparency. It means that all the Developers should be aware of what everyone else is working on and what the Team is trying to accomplish. In order to assure that, we are using a professional software – called Redmine – along with a little more conventional tool.

Making things clear and visible on a whiteboard is really helping us run the projects properly. It also boosts our creativity. Being able to comprehend the whole process with just one look is definitely making things easier for many of us.

Another pillar of the framework is the rule of frequent Inspection. It helps to detect undesirable variances. It should not eclipse the bigger picture or get in the way of the work though.  The idea is to keep the track of the progress and react if anything goes wrong for some reason.

The third big pillar of Scrum is called Adaptation. If an inspector notices something unusual the adjustment must be made as soon as possible to minimize further damage.

The three pillars together assure the success of the project and make everyone’s job so much easier.


Because there is so much more to say about Scrum than what we were able to fit in a single blog post, we invite you to check our other publications.

Here we speak about Product Discovery – one of the first steps to a successful IT project: https://evolpe.software/product-discovery/.

Here you will find information about the specifics of Agile Software Development in Poland: https://evolpe.software/it-software-development-poland/.

Finally, if you are interested in having your software developed in Scrum, give us a call!

 


06
Jun 17
evolpe software house

eVolpe Software House – well-known company, newest brand

Dear Readers,

with the first post on our blog, we want to use the opportunity to introduce the story of how we established a new brand within the eVolpe group …

It started a little low-profile with just the idea to take a closer look at the previously created company and its nearest surroundings …

At least once a month we try to organize an open discussion panel called “What’s new?”. During such meetings, we are sharing interesting facts from many different fields of knowledge, for example, science, psychology or business. Sometimes we hear about sales techniques, sometimes about methods of fast learning, sometimes about the latest software features created by our developers.

One day, during a short speech given by our colleague, we reminded ourselves of the advantages of SWOT. Thanks to the subjective balance of strengths and weaknesses and objective analysis of threats and opportunities, we were able to recognize the direction of further development for our organization.

We are a young and buoyant team of software enthusiasts. We like what we do and we are really good at it! Moreover, we rely on experience gained during more than seven years of Open Source deployments. We have created numerous IT solutions, mostly for Sales and Marketing departments. Our developers are experts in PHP and JavaScript programming. We have worked with large companies from Europe and America. We are able to take on complex, individually dedicated and advanced projects, even from afar.

Awareness of these few, truly valuable competitive advantages, inspired us to take on next, bold challenge. Comparing our own attributes with the trends observed on the market, helped us decide to found a completely new brand. eVolpe Software House!

With the new, second “pillar” of the company, we want to more accurately respond to the needs of our customers. We set ourselves the challenge of providing comprehensive computer software which, through rich functionality and individually tailored structure, supports the sustainable development of your company!

eVolpe Software House vs. Open Source

Based on many years of experience in B2B cooperation, we have gained a broad expertise in the optimization of business processes. Developing systems for companies from different sectors of the economy, we have learned how important is the individual adjustment of the system to the locally adequate procedures. Solutions proposed by major manufacturers, although optimized for the general audience, often require advanced programming skills. At eVolpe Software House, we not only work with Open Source codes but also create a completely original product!

We still believe in the idea of open software and often draw inspiration from free frameworks and libraries. Our mission is to provide comprehensive IT tools that fully respond to individual requirements of eVolpe customers. If it improves this part of the job and makes the final product even more efficient, we take advantage of the benefits of Open Source in the manufacturing process as well.

Outsourcing is trendy

We also try to follow a contemporary trend of outsourcing. To customers who do not want to go through time-consuming recruitment processes, we offer services of professional development teams. We realize how demanding is the task of choosing a suitably qualified, capable of leading complex projects staff. With our support, it is possible to re-delegate the unpleasant duty.

Agile Development in Poland

At eVolpe Software House, we aim to popularize the ethos of Polish programmer. We are proud to hear from our foreign customers how well the Poles do the job. In addition, we also try to be a role model and furthermore promote this type of comments. We believe that Polish developers in many cases outreach the highest international standards.

Polish programmers are well educated and usually share an excellent professional background with knowledge of  Agile Development work techniques. At eVolpe Software House, we focus on directly fulfilling the ideology of Agile with the framework of SCRUM. It’s a modern approach, that organizes the work of the development team and helps to deliver tailored, properly operating and functional software.

Lean Startup, because everyone once started

Finally a few words about the last component of our offer…

During this mentioned, repeated SWOT analysis, we’ve also remembered what’s it like to start from scratch. Although eVolpe Software House is yet another project of the same team, we definitely identify with those who are taking their first steps in the business. Exactly for such people: young entrepreneurs with a vision, we offer the last but not the least important solution: Minimum Viable Product for Startups.

MVP it’s a software that is offering only key features. It is dedicated to the novice businesses, that can successfully work with just the demo version of an unfinished software. With this solution, the startup founders are able to determine what type of a tool and with what features will be the most useful to meet the needs of the target group of customers.

To sum up,…

eVolpe Software House is a completely new edition of another project that was once launched under an orange trademark (eVolpe Consulting Group). Without suspending current operations, we now are expanding the range of our services under a new logo! However, the above-described elements of our portfolio are only a way to achieve following, overarching goal:

delivery of fully customized software which, thanks to its functional solutions, combined with the comprehensive services of our specialists – helps with the development of your business!

We hope that we were able to interest you with our story.

For more details on eVolpe Software House, please contact our team.

Team eVolpe Software House