Last week, our organization brought in Jeff Sutherland (the father of scrum) to certify numerous people (myself included) as scrum masters. We wanted to do this, so that we could baseline what scrum meant to our organization.
We have 3 different teams, and three different interpretations of what scrum is. I can say, that after Jeff was here, everyone is on exactly the same page.
I think the one place that we fell apart on was the planning cycle. After seeing how release and sprint planning works in an ideal scrum team, I feel that our organization is really going to gain momentum with scrum and agile. We’ve been doing fairly well, but this course adjustment was exactly what we needed.
The most important things i took away was the idea of one backlog. You may have multiple teams, but there should ever be only one pipeline into all of them. One person, and one person only should be responsible for that backlog. A “single, wringable neck”, if you will.
The other thing that became quickly apparent to us was that we need to include QA in our definition of done. What we had been doing is have QA define the acceptance tests, and once the acceptance criteria was defined, only then would the development team engage the work. This seemed like a great idea at the time, but in hindsight, what it really was was a modified waterfall process. We were still tossing things over the proverbial fence. QA was so far disjointed from what the development teams were doing that at times when the exploratory testing started, they did not recognize what we were showing.
What are we doing now?
- Cleaning up our backlog. All stories are going to be defined in the context of business value, rather than tasks, as we have been.
- QA is going to be tightly integrated into each of the scrum teams.
- Define what it means to be “done” with a story.
- Iterations will be going back to monthly from weekly. Monthly iterations will allow us more time to get something truly done (see above). Having QA in with the scrum teams will really help with this.
Are we doing everything right? No… Are we getting there? I really think so. I’d like to hear from other individuals who have worked with their organizations to bring scrum and agile processes into their daily lives. Please feel free to comment, or write a post on your blog and link back.