A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum

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Overview

Succeed with Scrum in Even the Largest, Most Complex Distributed Development Projects

Forewords by Ken Schwaber, Scott Ambler, Roman Pichler, and Matthew Wang

This is the first comprehensive, practical guide for Scrum practitioners working in large-scale distributed environments. Written by three of IBM’s leading Scrum practitioners--in close collaboration with the IBM QSE Scrum Community of more than 1000 members worldwide--this book offers specific, actionable guidance for everyone who wants to succeed with Scrum in the enterprise.

Readers will follow a journey through the lifecycle of a distributed Scrum project, from envisioning products and setting up teams to preparing for Sprint planning and running retrospectives. Each chapter presents a baseline drawn from “conventional” Scrum, then discusses additional issues faced by distributed teams, and presents specific best-practice solutions, alternatives, and tips the authors have identified through hard, empirical experience.

Using real-world examples, the book demonstrates how to apply key Scrum practices, such as look-ahead planning in geographically distributed environments. Readers will also gain valuable new insights into the agile management of complex problem and technical domains.

Coverage includes

• Developing user stories and working with Product Owners as a distributed team

• Recognizing and fixing the flaws Scrum may reveal in existing processes

• Engaging in more efficient Release and Sprint planning

• Conducting intense, brief daily Scrum meetings in distributed environments

• Managing cultural and language differences

• Resolving dependencies, performing frequent integration, and maintaining transparency in geographically distributed environments

• Successfully running remote software reviews and demos

• Brainstorming what worked and what didn’t, to improve future Sprints

This book will be an indispensable resource for every team leader, member, product owner, or manager working with Scrum or other agile methods in any distributed software development organization.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780137041138
  • Publisher: IBM Press
  • Publication date: 7/14/2010
  • Series: developerWorks Series
  • Pages: 189
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Woodward is a Senior Software Consultant with IBM Quality Software Engineering under the Corporate Headquarters Office of Innovation and Technology. She has served as the project manager or development leader on more than 100 globally distributed projects for IBM and other development companies. Elizabeth coaches distributed software development teams to improve efficiency and effectiveness of their development practices. She has co-chaired the IBM Academy of Technology Conference on Agile Methods, teaches courses on Disciplined Agile Development, and co-leads the IBM Agile Community.

Steffan Surdek is a User Experience Lead and Agile Champion in IBM. He has worked in the software development industry for over fifteen years as a software developer, architect, project manager, and team leader. Steffan has managed and coordinated large-scale projects with teams distributed in as many as five countries--India, Egypt, Israel, China, and Canada. He coaches distributed agile teams, is a co-leader of the IBM Agile Community, and teaches Disciplined Agile Development workshops. He is an active member of the Montreal Agile Community and has written on agile methods and globally distributed development for developerWorks and Dr. Dobbs Journal. In his spare time, he does some writing on his website at www.surdek.ca.

Matthew Ganis is an IBM Senior Technical Staff Member and ibm.com site architect. Matt was was co-founder of the Agile@IBM Community and was an early adopter of agile within IBM. He currently teaches Disciplined Agile Development and has published numerous articles and papers on the use of agile methods within ibm.com--both within its traditional web development and the development/support of their Second Life Island. Matt has been the co-chair and chair of the Academy of Technology’s Agile Conferences for the past two years and is a Certified Scrum- Master and Practitioner. Outside of IBM, Matt serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Agile and Extreme Software Development and is a steering committee member of New York City’s Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) chapter.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Ken Schwaber xvii

Foreword by Scott Ambler xix

Foreword by Roman Pichler xxiii

Foreword by Matthew Wang xxv

Preface xxvii

Chapter 1 The Evolution of Scrum 1

Core Principles of Scrum 2

An Agile Project Management Framework 2

Scrum Roles 2

Scrum Artifacts 3

The Sprint 4

The Shift to Distributed Development Teams 5

Globally Distributed Teams to Reduce Costs 6

Reaching Market More Quickly with the “Follow the Sun” Model 6

Distributed Teams Expand Access to New Markets 6

Acquisitions 7

Expanding for Innovation and Thought Leadership 7

Telecommuting 7

Improvements in Distributed Collaboration Tools 7

Types of Distributed Teams That Have Emerged 8

Collocated 8

Collocated Part-Time 9

Distributed with Overlapping Work Hours 10

Distributed with No Overlapping Work Hours 11

Ways of Handling Distributed Teams 12

Isolated Scrums 12

Distributed Scrum of Scrums 12

Totally Integrated Scrums 13

IBM’s Experience in Distributed Scrum 14

History of Agile in IBM 15

Summary 17

Chapter 2 Challenges Faced by Distributed Teams 19

Communicating with Distributed Team Members 20

Time Zones and Working Hours 20

Cultural Differences 21

Language Differences 23

Keeping Language Simple 23

Giving Everyone a Chance to Speak 24

Using Group Chat During Meetings 24

Providing a Translator 25

Confirming What Team Members Understand 25

Tools 26

File Sharing 26

Software Engineering Practices 27

Schedule Differences 27

Team Dynamics 28

Telephone Dynamics 29

Providing Access to the Call 29

Working with Telephones in a Meeting Room 30

Identifying the Speaker 31

Handling Visual Cues 31

Encouraging Participation 32

Limiting Side Conversations 33

Muting the Lines 33

Checking for Agreement and Disagreement 34

Identifying an Advocate to Represent Remote Team Members 34

When Nothing Else Works, Everyone Dials In 34

Reminders 34

Impact of Communication Problems 35

How Does Scrum Help? 36

Summary 37

Chapter 3 Starting a Scrum Project 39

How to Identify the Problems Your Product Will Solve 40

Who Are Your Stakeholders? 40

What Problems Will the Project Address? 42

What Are Your Solutions to the Problems? 46

What Is the Return on Investment? 47

Define the Vision 49

Create the Product Roadmap 50

Organize the Scrum Teams 50

Create and Prioritize the Backlog 51

Estimating the Stories as a Team 52

Prioritizing the Backlog 52

Single Backlog for Multiple Scrum Teams 53

Single Backlog with Sections for Multiple Teams 53

Separate Backlogs for Multiple Scrum Teams 54

Single Backlog Populated by Multiple Other Teams 56

Create the Release Plan 56

What Is the Sprint Length? 58

What Is the Estimated Team Velocity? 59

What Are the Dependencies? 61

What Are the Risks? 63

Coordinate Multiple Product Owners 63

Use Agile Project Management Tools 64

Invest in Smarter Development 65

Coordinating Agile and Non-Agile Teams 66

Reporting on Release Status 66

Ongoing Updates to Release Plan and Vision 66

Important Note about Meeting Face-to-Face 66

Summary 67

Chapter 4 Preparing for Sprint Planning 69

Sprint Preplanning Activities 70

Clarification of the User Stories 71

Breaking Down User Stories 72

Estimating User Stories 72

Dealing with Dependencies 75

Cleanup of the Product Backlog 78

Approaches for the Sprint Preplanning Meeting 78

The Full-Team Approach 80

The Preplanning Team Approach 81

The Balanced Team Approach 82

Considerations for Distributed Teams 82

Summary 83

Chapter 5 Sprint Planning 85

Adequately Preparing for the Sprint Planning Meeting 87

Sprint Planning Meeting Logistics 87

Sprint Planning Meeting Logistics for Scaled Teams 87

Sprint Planning Meeting Logistics for Distributed Teams 88

The First Half of Sprint Planning: Deciding What to Do 88

Reviewing Product Vision and Sprint Goal 89

Reviewing the Product Backlog 89

Engaging Stakeholders 91

The Second Half of Sprint Planning: Deciding How to Get the Work Done 91

Creating the Sprint Backlog 92

Gaining Commitment 94

Updating the Release Plan 94

Summary 94

Chapter 6 Distributed Daily Scrum Meetings 97

Using the Three Questions Effectively 98

Answering the Three Questions 99

Coordinating the Team on a Daily Basis 99

Committing to the Team 100

Verifying Progress 100

Resolving Blockers 101

Daily Scrum Logistics 102

Ways of Communicating During the Daily Scrum 102

Face-to-Face Meeting 102

Teleconference Meeting 103

Videoconference Meeting 104

Group Instant Messaging Approach 105

Approaches to Handling Time Zone Issues 106

Daily Scrums Through Documentation 107

The Liaison Approach 108

Alternating Meeting Times 110

Sharing the Pain 112

Tips for Distributed Daily Scrums 114

Removing Side Conversations 114

Keeping the Team Engaged 114

Facilitating the Meeting 115

Taking Daily Scrum Notes 116

Dealing with Language Barriers 117

Tools to Help with Distributed Daily Scrum 117

Scrum of Scrums 118

Summary 118

Chapter 7 Effective Collaboration During a Sprint 121

Communicating During the Sprint 122

Documentation to Overcome Distance 123

Using the Right Tools 123

Valuing the Whole Team 124

Transparency 124

Handling New Requests in the Middle of a Sprint 125

Single Point of Entry 125

Value of the Well-Groomed Backlog 126

Shortening the Sprint 127

Dealing with Defects 127

Disruptions at the Team Member Level 128

Handling Stories the Team Cannot Complete During the Sprint 128

Handling Blockers During the Sprint 129

Responding to Questions During the Sprint 130

Sustainable Pace 131

Sharing Time Zone Challenges 132

Avoiding Double Workdays 132

Continuous Integration 133

Reports Any Build Failures to the Team 133

Reduces the Risk of Integrating Code 133

Establishes Greater Confidence in the Product 135

Reduces the Time to Find Integration Issues 135

Improves the Efficiency of the Team 136

Builds Can Run at Different Frequencies 136

Test Automation 137

Dedicated Automation Teams 137

Identify High-Value Automated Tests 138

Automate What Is Stable 138

Automated Tests Can Run at Any Time 139

Automation Helps Improve Software Quality 139

Test-Driven Development 139

Provides Documentation and Working Examples of Code 140

Helps Reduce the Time to Fix Defects 140

Helps Improve Code Quality and Provides a Safety Net for Changes 141

Helps Team Members Work Together and Collaborate 141

Helps Teams Move Away from Big Upfront Designs 142

Unit Tests and Continuous Integration 142

Handling Infrastructure Projects 143

Summary 144

Chapter 8 End of Sprint Reviews 147

Who Participates in the Reviews 148

Enterprise Stakeholders 148

Who Should Present 149

Preparing Stakeholders 150

Reviewing the Strategic Vision of the Product 151

Approaches to Help Focus the Review 151

Using Themes and a Script 152

Having the Product Owner Introduce Each Presentation 152

Scheduling for Teams with Overlapping Work Hours 153

Scheduling for Teams with No Overlapping Work Hours 154

Alternating Meeting Times 154

Multiple Sprint Review Meetings 155

Sharing the Pain 156

Feeling the Pain 156

Recording the Entire Sprint Review Meeting 157

Challenges Teams Face 157

Not Keeping Track of the Stakeholder Comments 157

Demos May Provide a False Sense of Completion 158

The Team Has Nothing to Present 158

Added Challenges of Distributed Teams 159

Neglecting to Demo the Work of Part of the Team 159

Coordinate with Teams on Different Sprint Lengths 160

Remote Demonstrations 160

Network Delays and Poor Performance 160

Services May Vary by Location 161

Demos Outside of Office Hours 161

Summary 162

Chapter 9 Retrospectives 163

Sprint Retrospectives 163

What Should Come Out of a Retrospective? 165

Retrospective Timing 166

Hold Joint Retrospective as Needed 166

Hold Regular Joint Retrospectives 166

Joint Retrospectives for Teams on Different Sprint Lengths 167

Retrospectives for Teams in the Same Product Family 167

Conducting Retrospectives After Reviews 167

Larger Retrospectives 168

Building Trust 168

Effects of Distance 169

Preparing for the Retrospective 169

Setting Expectations 169

Understanding the Team Members’ Personalities 170

Respecting Cultural Differences 171

Offering Anonymity 171

Asking for Comments Before the Retrospective Meeting 171

What Went Well and What Can We Improve? 171

Providing Questions to Focus the Discussion 172

Consolidating Comments Is Extra Work 172

Conducting the Retrospective 173

Discussing Reported Issues 173

Giving Everyone a Chance to Engage 174

Using Common Terminology 175

State the Obvious 175

Keep the Conversation on Track 175

Managing Time Effectively 175

Release Retrospectives 176

Summary 177

Chapter 10 Closing Thoughts 179

Index 181

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